The bar world has changed. No longer are bars a place where friends just congregate and enjoy a convivial drink. They have metamorphosed into something much more. Gatherings of people, such as those celebrating birthdays or other special occasions have become far more fun due to the increasing popularity of ‘activity’ bars. Why are these bars becoming so popular? There are a number of reasons. These bars feature a variety of activities that either evoke a feeling of nostalgia or a memory of simpler times – when smartphones did not dominate the conversation. Board games and other pursuits remind us of a youthful and innocent time – but this time with the added social lubricant of great drinks for everyone. So if you are in search of that wonderful evening out with friends – here are some of the best activity bars in London.
Check out All Star Lanes in Shoreditch (and Holborn, as well as Westfield)
If there is one activity that is simple fun with friends it is bowling. Combine that with exceptional cocktails and you have a winning formula. Take that great pairing and mix well with the delightful feeling of not sharing shoes with hundreds of previous customers! Throw in a dash of authentic 50’s feel and a great U.S. style diner – offering Southern-style comfort food like fish finger sandwiches and great steaks. Top it all off with private Karaoke booths and the recipe for a great evening out has all the right ingredients. An alternative is Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes. Same retro feeling – and the ability to book up to eight lanes – making it the perfect party venue.
Another great choice is Baranis in the Temple district
Get down underground and sample great cocktails and snacks inspired by Mediterranean cuisine. The flavours of anise are only some tastes among others offered on their great cocktail menu. But the fun does not stop at cocktails. The inner pétanque court offers both newbies and seasoned players the opportunity to enjoy this game of skill and precision. Up to eight players can be accommodated – best to get there early.
Travel to Liverpool Street and experience Mac & Wild
For those in love with the ‘Water of Life’ this whisky bar is a dream come true. 200 varieties line the shelves – and the menu is abound with fun choices such as ‘haggis pops’. But the fun really kicks in at the indoor shooting ranges especially with the option to get into the mood with costumes that allow you to become a (virtual) ‘laird’. Take down deer or grouse – without the guilt. Prices are around £60 for an hour. 40 people can be accommodated in one party.
Bar Kick in Shoreditch is the place to go if you’re into football
Just a lack of hooligans makes it all the more attractive. Great sandwiches and the menu offers massive choice. Try the cheese or enjoy a cocktail. Foosball is the name of the game for groups of up to 35 can take over up to 2 of their Bonzini 90 tables.
Shuffleboard is cool again at The London Shuffle Club
If you have fallen prey to the idea of Shuffleboard as an occupation that makes the blood rise of the elderly on cruise ships you may be in for a shock when you visit The London Shuffle Club. It’s a far cry from the sedate occupation that was invented in the 1500s. It is a game of Kings – and became so popular that work days were lost – and in 1542 the British government banned it – due to the effect it was having on the national economy. Today things are a bit different. It no longer presents a threat to the English economy, but the fun remains. The idea was refined at two pop up locations. Now it seems that people are still in love with the deceptively simple, yet supremely enjoyable game. Get to Shoreditch and enjoy.
Draughts Board Game Café in Waterloo
Crowdfunding means that people are interested in a product or service. And that model has seen Draughts Board Game Café in Waterloo make it to the top of the Activity Bar pyramid. This hot spot beneath Waterloo Station has 500 games available to enjoy. Add local craft beers, ciders and a great selection of wines and the games become even more fun. Great food – and bookings for up to eight people are welcome.
Get bounced at Bounce in Shoreditch
12,000-foot of sheer fun – this is a venue that has it all. It was designed by Russell Sage. Exercise those muscles with 17 ping pong tables. The 40-foot bar adds to the fun with a superb drinks selection including seasonal cocktails. The DJ elevates the crowd. It is perfect. Arrive for the ping pong and simply stay for the vibe. Bring a friend – or up to 500 folk. Simply enjoy.