Advertisement

London activity bars: The best places to do more than just drink

Puttshack (Talk Tailor PR)
Puttshack (Talk Tailor PR)

Sometimes simply sitting down for a pint doesn’t cut it.

Forget getting cosy in a warm pub, spring is here, which means we need something a bit more lively.

Of course, London has it all – including an eclectic mix of activity bars that can make any first date lead to a second.

Challenge your pals, go head to head with colleagues and let your competitive side out with this ultimate collection of bars that guarantee to keep you occupied.

From table tennis and table football to golf and darts, these are the best London bars where you can do more than drink.

Four Thieves

Games galore: Converted music hall (Four thieves)
Games galore: Converted music hall (Four thieves)

For those who tire of one game quickly, this Battersea bar has a Victorian-style music hall upstairs that’s been converted into a games room. The arcade is packed full of different activities, including remote-control car racing and Plonk! golf. There’s even a VR space with three different games to try.

51 Lavender Gardens, SW11 1DJ, fourthieves.pub​

Puttshack

Hole in one: High-tech mini golf (Talker Tailor PR)
Hole in one: High-tech mini golf (Talker Tailor PR)

Mini-golf has been given a makeover at this new White City venue. The folks behind London’s hit ping-pong chain Bounce, below, have created a new concept for London’s bar scene: high-tech indoor golf. The bar has four courses of nine holes, each of which take inspiration from arcade, computer and fairground games. It even has one-of-a-kind ball tracking and scoring, which is in inside the balls themselves, so there’s no need for scorecards. More difficult to cheat, too.

Westfield, Ariel Way, W12 7HB, puttshack.com

Bounce

Bounce back: New generation ping-pong
Bounce back: New generation ping-pong

Can you even call yourself a Londoner if you haven’t been invited to a work do at Bounce? This popular London ping-pong chain is a great go-to. They boast Wonderball tables that transform into computer games using projection-mapping technology. Just make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment, as the branches in Farringdon and Old Street get very busy.

121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD, bouncepingpong.com

Bar Kick

Kick-start the evening: Shoreditch hotspot (Cafe Kick)
Kick-start the evening: Shoreditch hotspot (Cafe Kick)

For those who are not built to run around a pitch for 90 minutes (and for those who prefer to have a drink in hand when engaging with any sort of sport), there’s table football. This Shoreditch bar has tables spread across two floors and shows live sports, too. It’s the sister bar of popular Clerkenwell haunt Café Kick.

127 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE, cafekick.co.uk

Swingers

No buggy needed: City venue (Merimance PR)
No buggy needed: City venue (Merimance PR)

Enjoy 16,000 sq ft of crazy golf at this City venue located just a stone’s throw from the Gherkin. In this popular spot, there are several bespoke nine-hole courses to choose from. Staff deliver drinks straight to the course and there's great street food to choose from, including bites from Pizza Pilgrims and Patty & Bun. No caddies or diamond-print golf polo shirts required, thankfully. If you're not in the area, try the newer West End site instead.

8 Brown's Buildings, EC3A 8AL, swingersldn.com

Skylight

Rooftop playground: Skylight at Tobacco Dock (Katy Kapranos PR)
Rooftop playground: Skylight at Tobacco Dock (Katy Kapranos PR)

This rooftop bar in Wapping has a number of lawn games on offer in the summer, including croquet and pétanque. In winter, go for a rooftop ice rink and ice hockey. This venue was once a multi-story car park, so you can enjoy a game while taking in views of the city skyline.

Tobacco Dock, E1W 2SF, skylightlondon.com

Flight Club

Bullseye: Social darts (Juliette at Flight Club Darts)
Bullseye: Social darts (Juliette at Flight Club Darts)

This lively spot proves darts is not just for middle-aged men or teenage prodigies. The darts here have been upgraded with tech that automatically records scores, which is handy. Each board has a 20-person capacity and there's table service, too, meaning more game time all round.

2A Worship Street, EC2A 2AH, flightclubdarts.com

London Shuffle Club

Get shuffling: Shoreditch's new activity bar (Grounded London)
Get shuffling: Shoreditch's new activity bar (Grounded London)

It may have been popularised on Twenties transatlantic cruise ships, but it would appear shuffleboarding has made something of a comeback. Somewhere in the middle of 10-pin bowling and curling, the lesser known game was a staple on Shoreditch’s Ebor Street for a couple of years. The original location has since closed, but the bar is due to reopen in a couple of weeks in a new location around the corner in Shoreditch.

19 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA, londonshuffle.com

Draughts Board Game Café

From Scrabble to Cluedo: A library of more than 800 games (Draughts London)
From Scrabble to Cluedo: A library of more than 800 games (Draughts London)

The combination of board games and alcohol can be dangerous, especially if it's Christmas and the family is around. Still, at this Hackney bar, Londoners can indulge in both in a less intense setting. With more than 800 board games on offer, there’s no chance of getting bored, either (geddit?). For those who can’t make it up to Hackney, another location has also opened up in Waterloo.

337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA, draughtslondon.com

Ballie Ballerson

Ultimate nostalgia: Be transported back to your childhood  (Ballie Ballerson)
Ultimate nostalgia: Be transported back to your childhood (Ballie Ballerson)

Who doesn't love a ball pit? The famous Shoreditch bar boasts more than one million balls and has a ball-pit waterfall and UV wall murals, making it the perfect adult playground. It also has Insta-worthy, sweet-themed drinks, including a Skittle sour and a Strawberry Laces shot.

97-113 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS, ballieballerson.com​

Whistle Punks Axe Throwing

Because axe throwing and alcohol have always been a great mix. Jokes aside, this is certainly one of the more interesting activities on our London list. Located in the heart of Soho, players can enjoy a fully stocked bar, tuck into pizza, and throw axes at target boards with their friends. That’s one way to let off steam after work.

53 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8DN, whistlepunks.com

Four Quarters 

While no relation to Four Thieves, this South London bar was actually the capital’s first arcade game bar. Home to all the retro classics, this has been a staple in south London since 2014, and firmly deserves a place on this list for the endless hours of pinball and retro video games guests can get sucked into.

187 Rye Lane, SE15 4TP, fourquarters.bar

F1 Arcade

Inspired by the recent Aussie Grand Prix? Formula 1 season is upon us, but why leave the fun to Lewis Hamilton when you can try (a simulation) yourself? This London bar gives you the chance to get in the driver's seat and race around the course. “Grab a cocktail, slide into the driver's seat, and immerse yourself in competitive socialising,” the people behind the arcade say.

1 New Change, EC4M 9AF, f1arcade.com