London Activity Bars | The Nudge
There’s nothing quite like celebrating your birthday at activity bars with games, mostly because,
A) It faithfully recreates that magical, nostalgic feeling of playing party games in your youth (but with booze this time). And,
B) Everyone has to let you win.
And these are the best activity bars in London to do that…
All Star Lanes | Holborn, Bayswater, Westfield and Shoreditch
Bowling’s great. Especially when you combine it with cocktails, non-sweaty shoes, a 1950’s vibe, an authentic American diner serving everything from corn dipped Mississippi fish finger sandwiches to chargrilled prime beef steaks, and private karaoke booths. Just in case you accidentally on purpose elect to get drunk, you know.
Numbers? Up to around 21
Baranis | Temple
A basement cocktail bar with a simple menu of traditional French snacks and a sizeable array of the region’s prime anise-flavoured apéritif, pastis. They also have a gravelled indoor pétanque court, where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball. Simple. Unless you don’t have arms.
Numbers? There’s only one lane, so unless you want to play in rounds, it’s probably best to cap it at around 8.
Flight Club | Shoreditch, Bloomsbury
From the competitive minds behind both Bounce and All Star Lanes, FC boasts animated scoring; virtual guides; a collection of fast-moving games; pizza boards and canapés; and touch screen interfaces invented by a rocket scientist. Oh, and booze.
Numbers? You can book for up to 400 people, but it’s probably best to stick to under 40.
Bar Kick | Shoreditch
“Shoreditch royalty” would be a relatively adequate summation of Bar Kick. Then again, so would “a bustling, rambunctious football-inspired bar offering a menu of epicurean sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese, cocktails, beer, wine and – most importantly – foosball tournaments.”
Numbers? Groups between 10-35 can reserve areas with 1 or 2 football tables.
NOTE: Café Kick, in Exmouth Market, is Bar Kick’s smaller, younger, more intimate brother.
Urban Golf | Soho, Smithfield
Golf: hitting a tiny ball with a tiny club into a tiny hole hundreds of metres away behind trees, water beds and sandpits. Urban Golf: kind of just like that, except virtual, and indoors, and warm, with 50 of the world’s best courses on electronic hand, and bar food menu, with drinks.
Numbers? Anywhere ‘from 8 to 150’, they claim. But realistically, 150 people can’t play golf simultaneously, so take that for what it’s worth.
Draughts Board Game Café | Haggerston
A partially crowd funded board game café in the heart of Hackney, stocking more than 500 games and a much smaller selection of local craft beers, ales, ciders and wines as well as homemade baked goods.
Numbers? You can book for up to 8 people, which is about as many people as you can squeeze around a decent sized board-game…
Bounce | Holborn, Shoreditch
Set over 12,000 square feet of a Russell Sage-designed space in Holborn, Bounce features an impressive 17 ping-pong tables, a 40 foot bar serving seasonally-inspired drinks, a DJ booth and a raised restaurant for overlooking the action. In short, if table tennis was fun before the addition of cocktails, music and all of your friends – which it was – then Bounce has done the nearly impossible, and actually made it better.
Numbers? Basically anywhere from 2 people to, apparently, 500. You can book tables, or indeed an entire room of tables.
NOTE: You can also play ping pong at Zetter Townhouse, Doodle Bar, and The Parlour Bar.
Swingers | Spitalfields & West End
Swingers is crazy golf like a Ferrari is a way of getting from A to B. Set in a vast underground East London space, it has two golf courses, three restaurants, and five bars. Yes, five.
Numbers? The place is vast, and they have spaces that can be hired for groups of 12-500 people.
Lucky Voice | Soho and Islington
Karaoke is a legitimate sport. It requires skill, determination, perseverance and finally, alcohol. But it also requires a karaoke bar, like Lucky Voice, where the deal is simple: you pay per person for private rooms, into which you can take all manner of drinks prepared by the on site cocktail bar.
Numbers? Each room fits a maximum of a dozen people, so unless you want to be separated, keep it under that.
Original Sin | Stoke Newington
As well as looking like the broody basement bar of a lower NYC whisky refinery, Original Sin is also one of the rare gems which exist to provide you with only one thing: fun. Oh, and a free pool table.
Numbers? Sunday to Thursdays they book for groups up to 15, however on Friday and Saturdays its only for groups of 6 people.
The Four Quarters | Peckham
A Peckham bar / pub specialising in all your classic misspent-youth arcade and video games like Pong, Asteroids, Tron, Pac Man and Streetfighter II.
Numbers? You can rent the entire console room for between 5 and 30 people.
Porky’s | South Bank
Beer Pong + BBQs.
Numbers? Up to you, but the table has strictly 2 players per side, so probably don’t run over a dozen or so people.
Looking for somewhere a little more sedate? How about a place for classy birthday drinks…