It’s no secret that London is a city that loves a great night out. On pretty much any night of the week, the streets will be bustling with drinkers and revellers looking for the best place to have a good time. While there’s certainly no shortage of great drinking spots, there’s a select few that are a bit more out there and interesting than the rest.
Now that we’re heading towards longer evenings and slightly warmer weather (OK, once all these storms have passed), we’ve decided to shake the city down and put the best themed bars and pubs into one very handy guide to help point you in the direction of an establishment that will give you the stylish night out you desire.
Ever since it opened in 2012, Bounce has become one of the best bars in London. The name of the game here is ping pong, and the venue in Farringdon is at the very same site that ping pong was originally created and patented. Along with the standard game, there’s also Wonderball, a high tec version; beer pong and shuffleboard. Alongside Farringdon, there’s a venue in Old Street, and an upcoming new location on Battersea Power Station. If you book a Game Guru for your session, you’ll be able to meet one of these game coordinators to guide your fun for the evening. There’s also of course an excellent selection of house cocktails, wines and beer to have while you play, making Bounce a truly unmissable night out.
One of the newest entries on this list, Strike opened in Wandsworth at the end of last year to a decent amount of fanfare- and it’s not surprising why. Describing itself as “London’s newest boutique bowling alley”, it’s basically a place to knock down pins with a really good bar and restaurant, enough to qualify for this list. Come here to have a few drinks, some good food, and throw a few balls. There’s also darts and shuffleboard if that’s more your style.
Also quite a new opening, Clays arrived on the London scene in October of last year, and combines drinking and shooting. Well, not actual shooting- virtual clay pigeon shooting. If that sounds a bit naff, fear not: these aren’t some barely working arcade machines with broken plastic pistols, these are state of the art booths with huge screens and “properly weighted guns” to blast your way to victory against friends. You’ll have a great night with a very well stocked bar and lots of fun, and there’s some pretty fancy nibbles to eat too. It’s located in The City of London, so it’s also good for work parties and events.
Another sport themed bar, Sixes takes quite an odd sounding concept- “what if there was a bar where you could play cricket in between rounds?”- and pulls it off quite brilliantly. Currently at two locations in London, Fitzrovia and Fulham, the bar allows you to choose between a fairly standard looking cricket set up in nets and a glow in the dark UV version, so you can pretend you’re playing cricket in 2072 as opposed to 2022. You can order drinks and food to your table while a game is ongoing, and get yourself on the leaderboard. There’s a range of skill levels to choose from, and you can even bring your own bat if you fancy yourself a real Ben Stokes. Just be careful not to drink too much and accidentally LBW yourself in front of your friends.
It’s time to embrace a different kind of spirit at this bar: the Blitz kind. Cahoots was originally an air raid shelter during WWII, and it’s now a 40s London Underground themed drinking haven. The 40s design is present everywhere, from the posters and art on the walls to the glasses and cups you drink out of. There’s a great selection of drinks and tasty food “rations” to be had, and there’s a number of fun experiences to take part in. Bootlegger Breakout for example combines cocktails with puzzle solving for those who want more of a brain challenge on their night out. So, drink for victory at this fab Soho spot.
Four Thieves is another fantastic South West London venue, and one that combines race driving and drinking, believe it or not. A pub first and foremost, it hosts The Arcade upstairs, which allows you and your friends to race with miniature cars around a track whilst driving with a steering wheel. There’s also plenty of arcade games, a VR experience, and an escape room. That’s a lot under one roof!
What is it with arcade themed bars and having “Four” in the name? We don’t know. But what we do know is that Four Quarters is one of the best bars in London when it comes to gaming goodness, if that’s your style. Boasting original versions of some classic arcade and console games from decades past, the bars (there’s three in London) are a great place for a chilled yet fun evening with friends. The signature drinks have names inspired by some of the games available to play (for example “Princess Peach”), and you can use real quarters to insert into the machines. This one is definitely worth considering when your thumbs feel like they need some exercising.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
If you’ve always wanted a chance to emulate our current Prime Minister- that is to say, escaping into a fridge- your dreams can come true at The Mayor of Scaredy Town. The entrance to the bar is only accessible through a fridge inside The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields, and can be entered after requesting to see “The Mayor.” Once inside you’ll find a really great drinking place, and if you go on a Saturday or Sunday, you can get unlimited Prosecco, Bloody Mary’s, Pornstar Martinis and Breakfast Club brunch dish for a total of 2 hours, priced at £45 per person. Give it a go next time you need a good brunch venue.
The piano works is a great place to opt for on your night out if you want some great tunes. The speakeasy themed bar lets you request the songs to dance, party and vibe to, from a live band. Located in both the West End and Farringdon, there’s options for dinner alongside drinks to make a real night of it. Fill out one of the handed out request slips, let your hair down and sing along with a group of people who are there for as good as time as you are. It’s one of the best ways to experience a live music bar in London.
A lot of the entries on this list are places that have embraced games not usually played in your traditional bar or pub, but Flight Club takes a popular pub past time, darts, and makes it central to its theme. You’re able to book events in advance for either classic (ie solo players) or team (groups of players compete against each other) tournaments, where you’ll be overseen by a game host and served plenty of delicious food and drinks. There’s no writing down scores on paper here: you’re given a touch screen to enter your team name and other details on, and scores are recorded on a leaderboard screen. If you’re keen on playing darts with a professional set up, Flight Club is the way to go.
The cheekily named Swingers is probably the best way to play to play indoor crazy golf in London (we can’t think of many competitors), and has proved hugely popular since opening. There’s currently two venues, in the West End and in the City, and both offer differently designed courses: one of the West End’s is themed around helter-skelters, while the one in the City’s is based around a lighthouse. The courses are very pleasing to the eye in terms of design, and there’s a plethora of street food to choose from to have alongside your drinks. Even if you’re not going to be competing in the Masters anytime soon, Swingers is a great place for hole in one fun.