We’ve had some lovely weather in London this year, and with many green parks and browse-worthy markets there’s no shortage of places for early autumn strolls and outdoor games. However, British weather can’t always be relied upon, so we thought we’d look at fun things to do indoors and under cover in the capital. If you’ve done the museums or are just looking for something different, check out the following cool places.
A perfect afternoon hangout, Bloomsbury Lanes brought bowling back into vogue in the capital. The interior is classic Americana through and through, complete with a burgers ‘n’ fries diner and a cocktail bar made from bowling lane wood. This is what you want a bowling alley to look and feel like. Taking things one step further, BL’s eight lanes even have vintage above lane ball return (the only one outside the States) for extra authenticity. On top of all that there are private karaoke rooms for hire as well as regular club nights and live events.
Nearest Tube: Russell Square
Opened nearby not long after Bloomsbury Lanes, Holborn’s All Star Lanes goes for a similar, American ’boutique bowling’ and diner vibe, with a slightly darker and more glamorous edge. With just four lanes, it’s a pretty intimate vibe, getting a little more raucous from 3pm with the start of the daily weekday three-hour happy hour. And if you happen to be hanging in hip East London, there’s a more spacious six lane venue on Brick Lane. Great desserts too.
Nearest tube: Holborn venue – Holborn, Brick Lane venue – Liverpool Street/Aldgate East. All Star Lanes also have venues inside Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City shopping centres.
If your chic tour of Clerkenwell’s concept stores gets curtailed by a downpour, pass a few hours at 19:20 on Great Sutton Street. Low-lit and atmospheric, this authentic American-style pool bar offers more elbow room than the local pubs and does a nice line of burgers, hot dogs and sharing platters too. European pool champion and resident pro Rico will help you raise your game and has a few trick shots up his sleeve. On top of the usual bar fare, there’s a decent cocktail menu if you end up making a night of it.
Nearest tube: Farringdon or Barbican
If rain interrupts play in North London, just head inside for a mini, table-sized kick-around at Exmouth Market’s Café Kick. Decorated with international flags and football memorabilia, this spot has a relaxed, European café feel, with added fun in the form of babyfoot (table football). Play a few games and enjoy a coffee and a grilled sandwich in the afternoon and stay for some soccer-themed cocktails. For slightly more evening-friendly entertainment, the café’s Shoreditch sister Bar Kick is every bit as nice with a more extensive menu.
Nearest tube: Café Kick – Farringdon, Angel / Bar Kick – Old Street, Liverpool Street
Of course, the easiest options when it rains are to duck inside the nearest shop or pub. Imagine if you could combine the best of both. Well, at Drink Shop & Do, you can. Opened nearly a decade ago as a ‘pop-up’ shop, DS&D is now a permanent fixture, even if its own fixtures aren’t: everything inside – tables, chairs, crockery and cutlery – is for sale. So browse and booze or just enjoy some classic afternoon tea in the homely if slightly eccentric ever-changing surroundings. Stick around after regular shop hours and you’ll see where the ‘do’ bit comes in as the store is taken over by crafty goings on ranging from Cocktails & Calligraphy to Lego robots depending on what night you’re there.
Nearest tube: King’s Cross