Pub. Drink. Sleep. Repeat. (Well, with maybe a little work thrown in there somewhere too.) Yes, we all know a night down the boozer with your mates is a pretty standard choice for a fun evening, but sometimes, just sometimes, it can start to feel a little monotonous. What you need, dear friends, is a pub with a difference, a pub where you could confidently take a first date and guarantee a good time. Here’s our tried and tested list of the best activity bars in London. You’re welcome. X
Tank & Paddle
Beer, pizza, shuffleboard. Could you get any more London than this place? Oh yes, you can; it has wooden industrial-chic decor too. The paddle in the name refers to the huge paddles that the freshly cooked pizzas are presented on for a bit of je ne sais quois. And if you have ever fancied trying a food challenge (a la Man vs. Food), enter the Dude vs Dough: eat a yard long pizza and one mac ‘n’ cheese in 15 minutes to become a Doughminator and get on their wall of fame. Totally worth the belly ache after. If you enter the bar to a rousing cheer, sorry, it’s not for you or the fact your photo is now on the wall. The shuffleboard at the back of the bar is the centre of attention throughout the night, where rivalries are born, love stories begun, and new skills discovered.
Crazy golf just got a whole load crazier. Take the classic putt and ball and hand it over to your most techy friend. That’s right, this is crazy golf with a side of science. The balls are so clever here, they know who they belong to, how far it’s been hit and how many times, as well as how you did when you visited last and who is winning. Even the tiny pencils and scoring papers have been made redundant, a computer does all the scoring for you! OK, it does mean that you can no longer cheat when no one’s looking, but it also means that there is an added level of competitiveness as there are bonus points to be won and penalties to be lost.
We can see it now: the sun is shining, the air is warm, a group of old men are sat outside a cafe drinking wine in the South of France while the subtle plonking of a pétanque match takes place. Ahh. Back to reality. If you are unfortunately stuck in London then head down to Baranis and their basement pétanque court. No, it’s not quite the same aesthetics of a rural French village square, but it certainly has greater cocktails and a wide range of Provençal dishes. Close your eyes, you could almost be there.
Mac + Wild Virtual Shooting Range
Remember the excitement you’d have as a kid when you saw those big shiny lightbulbs that flickered out the word “ARCDE”? (The local one lost the A a while back…) Imagine our excitement when we discovered The Four Thieves, an adult arcade bar that also has BEER! (And other drinks.) Head straight to the top floor where you will find not only VR booths – unlimited on Wednesday evenings – but also a GIANT Scalextric track with live commentary (so you may need to think again about the rude player name you gave your mate.) There are also a plethora of arcade games and bar snacks too.
The first rule of Flight Club is you don’t talk about Flight Club… a rule we’re gonna have to break real quick. Flight Club is reinventing the image of beer-bellied old men dominating the well-used dartboard down your local boozer and making it ‘cool’. By the end of the night, we bet you will be yelling out ‘180!’ with the best of them while finding your new favourite sport more addictive than the cheesy, cheesy pizza they serve up at the same time. Almost impossibly stylish, this is a night out that you will be recording on the ‘gram. Especially when you hit that first bullseye. If you haven’t hit the bar first…
No footballer has been covered in this much beer since Gazza during the 1991 Euros, even if these are teeny, tiny plastic ones. Bar Kick gets pretty packed, but if you manage to grab yourself one of the tables, hold onto it for dear life and battle it out amongst your friends. Top tip: put your beer down first. The bar is also a great place to watch live sports on the TV, with big screens on each floor. Work up a hunger and then tuck into a juicy burger or a big bowl of nachos.
Four Quarters – East
Not to be confused with their sister branch Four Quarters in Peckham (an easy mistake to make, just not the best on a first date….), if you enjoy an evening huddled around a pinball machine, this is the place for you. Exchange your hard earned cash for actual American quarters and slot them into your chosen machine. The vibe in here is as electric as the machines themselves, right on the canal for a nice breezy evening in the summer. A perfect place to hang with friends, or go on that date, if you end up at the right place that is…
If hearing “let’s play a board game” while on holiday doesn’t send you running straight for the sea, then you’ll probably enjoy a visit Draughts. As London’s first board game cafe they ensure they remain the best with a library of over 800 games. Don’t worry, tell staff what kind of game you’re after – from easy to play while drinking to longer campaigns – and they’ll bring you a selection to choose from. Keep that energy up with one of the many scrummy dishes on offer, or drown your sorrows in a handcrafted cocktail.
Bat and Ball
Pick up your bat and your ball and let’s play ping-pong. Showcase your hand-to-eye coordination on one of the 10 championship-sized ping pong tables while indulging in craft beer, cocktails, and one hell of a good pizza. If ping-pong isn’t your thing, then go one step further: beer pong (or Prosecco pong for the classier among you).