Bowling, what activity could be more proletarian? You even have to borrow shoes! It’s the most every day sport, the game of the working man (and woman), usually enjoyed in god-forsaken multiplex leisure centres, eating Wimpy burgers and sucking on a Slushpuppy. Well, take everything you think you know about bowling, and roll it down the gutters. Posh bowling has arrived.
London has posh everything, from the things that are actually posh (the Queen, Harvey Nichols, Sloane Avenue and so on) to normal things that London decides should become posh (from chip shops to Pippa Middleton). And bowling is just the latest thing to be taken by the scruff of the neck and forced to wear a pink shirt. And aren’t we glad for it? Here are our favourite posh bowling alleys.
You know you’re not in Basingstoke when there’s alligators on the wall (that or something has gone very wrong with the Hampshire irrigation system). At Ham Yard the two giant crocodillian driftwood decorations are just one reminder that you’re somewhere a little more rarified. The Firmdale hotel’s events space, The Croc (fear not, nothing to do with the shoes), features an original 1950s alley that’s been transported specially from Texas. The walls include two large scale Howard Hodgkin artworks and there’s, of course, a silver baby grand piano to tinker on when you’re not winning at bowling.
From one hotel to another, and another bowling alley (simply having bedrooms are so passé nowadays). Shoreditch’s Courthouse Hotel have just added a bowling alley into the mix. The two lane alley can be rented out by the evening or by the hour, and there’s even a table football table (which the Americans irritatingly insist on calling fußball) and table tennis (ping pong).
Where: 19-21 Great Marlborough Street, Soho, London, W1F 7HL, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Oxford Circus (0.2 miles)
It feels like All Star Lanes were ahead of the curve on this one and they really are the posh bowling experts. The bowling experience is great, but so’s the food (cracking burgers). They’ve relatively recently (well, last year) opened another alley down at Westfield, which hands-down beats shopping, Oh, and the cocktail menu will make everything worth it.
An ice rink followed by bowling might sound like one of those weekend school outings that was only ever borderline forced fun, but at QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl they’ve dialled up the enjoyment and dialled back the arriving in a school minibus and my 13 year old self’s obsession with giant gobstoppers. The 12 neon-lit bowling lanes are only rivalled for pleasure by the on-site Meatliquor concession.
If you were hitherto under any illusion that bowling was now firmly in ironic hipster mode, then Bloomsbury Lanes is about all the proof you need. Not only is it in Bloomsbury, but as well as eight lane bowling they’ve also got karaoke rooms. So if you want to bowl a strike, then strike a pose, you can. There’s also pizza, courtesy of Ray’s Pizza.
Did you know that Rowan in Arabic means ‘river in paradise’? No, I’m sure you didn’t and I’ll bet even more than the folks over at Rowans Bowling don’t either. But if river in paradise sounds far-fetched, here’s some gutters in Finsbury Park is a bit more realistic. Rowans has imported retro American 10-pin bowling, not to mention karaoke.