We’ve had some lovely weather in London lately, and with many gorgeous parks and great markets there’s no shortage of places for summer 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. So, if you’ve done the museums or are just looking for something different or more active, check out the following”¦
A perfect afternoon hangout, Bloomsbury Lanes has helped bring bowling back into vogue in the capital. The interior is classic Americana through and through, complete with 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 pretty intimate on a weekday, getting a little more raucous on Saturday nights with the Shake Rattle and Bowl retro disco. If you happen to be on an upmarket West London jaunt or hanging in hip East London, there are more spacious six lane venues at Bayswater and Brick Lane. Great desserts too.
Nearest tube: Holborn – Holborn, Bayswater – Baywaster, Brick Lane – Liverpool Street/Aldgate East
If your chic shopping excursion on Portobello Road gets curtailed by a downpour, pass a few hours at The Elbow Room. Stylish and spacious, this authentic American-style pool bar on Westbourne Grove offers more er, elbow room than the local pubs and they do a nice line of burgers and snack platters too. If you happen to be in the East, there’s an even bigger seven-table branch in Shoreditch, with more than ample space to dance and drink in-between frames. On top of the usual bar fare, there’s a decent cocktail menu if you end up making a night of it.
Westbourne Grove – Notting Hill Gate, Royal Oak, Bayswater
Shoreditch – Old Street
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.
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. Originally opened as a ‘pop-up’ shop, DS&D is now a permanent fixture, even if its own fixtures aren’t: everything inside – tables, chairs, the cups – 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 50’s Pin-Up makeovers to origami depending on what night you’re there.
Nearest tube: King’s Cross
To round things off, a night at ‘the dogs’ simply can’t be beaten for alternative evening entertainment. Horse racing might take more money at the bookie’s, but greyhound racing has always been the gambling sport Brits actually go to see en masse. Since the closure of the Walthamstow track (famously featured on the cover of Blur’s Parklife), Wimbledon Stadium is sadly the only London venue left, but when things kick off, the atmosphere is still highly charged. You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy it either, just put down a few pounds and watch yourself get sucked into the action.
Nearest tube: Wimbledon Park