You know that scene at the start of Dr No, where James Bond sits at the blackjack table and calmly raises his stake to £1,000, before saying those immortal ‘Bond, James Bond’ lines as the theme tune starts up? That’s London casinos, in all their suave, black tie, glory. If you’re a high roller or just out to try the waters, then this is the place to experience some of the best casinos in the world. Here are some of the best…
Sat on the corner of Hyde Park and Mayfair, Les Ambassadeurs Club is glorious, elegant and so very red! With a rich history going back over a century, this casino has been graced by royalty and celebrities coming for some of the best gambling money can buy (or lose). Expect plush carpets, marble and gold and a gaming floor with 24/7 croupiers manning 16 tables. And when you’ve lost everything, enjoy the bar and the smoking area, or hit the tables again on London’s largest outdoor gambling area.
The Ritz Club needs no introduction. Palatial, this place could have been designed for the Sun King himself (well, it couldn’t because he’d been dead nearly 150 years by the time it was completed, but you know what I mean). But when you’re not admiring the decor, keep an eye on your cards because this is where the world’s richest men and women come to lose fortunes. And, it being The Ritz and everything, of course the food is incredible.
Aspinalls is allegedly where Lord Lucan went to disappear, and so can your fortune if you play your cards, er, wrong. When it was founded by socialite John Aspinall in the ’60s, this was a place teaming with more aristos than you could shake a swan at, and it retains that sense of utter respectability.
A byword in gambling circles, in one form or another, since the 1820s, Crockfords is another old world Mayfair casino. The excellent restaurant caters to European as well as Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern tastes, giving a sense of the global melting pot modern London is, but also the international clientele at Crockfords.
From plush carpets, gilt and marble of old Mayfair, to the ultra modern luxury of the new Mayfair at The Colony Club. Recently re-vamped, the look is cool, with DJs regularly playing, a fantastic bar and minimalist Japanese restaurant. And, of course, the all-important gaming facilities are among some of the best in the city.
A brief dash away from Mayfair and we’re in Kensington this time at Maxims, where the maxim is presumably ‘don’t do things by halves’. The intimate club may be smaller, but nevertheless remains unstintingly glamorous, with good gambling facilities and a restaurant specialising in Arabic, Chinese and European dining.
This is no Aspinalls, don’t get me wrong, but the buzz of this West End behemoth is unmistakable. Worth a look in and a chance on the tables against some incredibly well-heeled tourists, relax and spend your winnings at the onsite steak restaurant Heliots.
Where: The Hippodrome Casino London, Cranbourn Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Leicester Square (0 miles)