Nothing brings people together like a bit of friendly competition over a board game. Well, it’s a quick way to test just how friendly things stay once they get going. But, if you steer clear of Monopoly, things should generally stay civilised. Playing board games is a great way to hang out with friends and meet new people in London. It’s an activity that suits drinkers and non drinkers alike, helps people find fellow enthusiasts, and (apart from outdoor chess) doesn’t depend on having decent weather. Here’s our round up of where to play board games in London.

Draughts, Haggerston & Waterloo

Before Draughts opened up its original venue in Haggerston in 2014, anyone wanting to play board games in cafés generally had to bring their own, or find a pub that stocked a few battered boxes of Boggle. It’s fair to say the venue was a ‘gamechanger’ in raising the bar on
the communal game playing experience in London. Now Drafts has two venues one in Hackney and the other in Waterloo and the biggest selection of board games in London. The menu includes easy, quick-fire games like Sushi Go! and Obama Llama to more complex games like Carcassonne. Each player pays £7.00 per session, and you can play as many games you like, for up to 3 hrs. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable plus there’s a decent food menu too, including small plates and tacos.

  • Where: Hackney/Haggerston: 41 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JS
    Waterloo: Arch 16, Leake Street, SE1 7NN
  • Nearest stations: Haggerston / Waterloo
  • Costs: £7.00 per player

The Ludoquist, Croydon

The gloriously pun-tastic name might well be worth the price of admission alone. But Croydon’s The Ludoquist also has a very pleasing window display of games that you may not even have heard of like Jaws, the game! (you’re gonna need a bigger board). But they’re not all that niche, there are classics like Settlers of Catan, and Ticket To Ride as well as dice, escape rooms, party games, two-player games and even solo games. If you get stuck, just ask one of the ‘game gurus’, on hand to walk you through things. Menu-wise, it’s fairly doughy, with pizzas and paninis, but also veggie curry and drinks wise, and there’s plenty of hot drinks, soft drinks, craft beer and wine to sip while you play.

  • Where: 63-67 High Street, Croydon, CRO 1QE
  • Nearest station: South Croydon
  • Costs: £7.00 per person for a games session, 3 hrs max at busy times

Bad Moon Cafe, Elephant & Castle

With a rack of shelves that resemble a 90s video store, and Games Workshop selling several Warammer games – you’d be forgiven for thinking fantasy gaming is the order of the day at Bad Moon. But there are over 150 games to choose from including party favourites like Codenames, Dobble and Articulate and classics like Chess and Chequers. There are group packages, and it’s pricier than a lot of other venues, but the silver package is £25.00 per person for up to 5 hrs of gaming, plus a drink and pizza.

  • Where: Elephant & Castle 159A Great Dover Street London SE1 4GZ
  • Nearest station: Elephant & Castle
  • Costs: Group bookings from £20.00 per person
Mahjong game tiles
Mahjong | Photo by Getty Images

The Library Pot, Richmond

The leafy south London suburbs are good board gaming territory, it seems. The quaintly-named The Library Pot in Richmond began as a board game club hosted by owners Emily and Rob (and their cat Eddie) in their home. It was so popular, they took over an old pub and turned it into a board game café. These days, it’s a favourite of the London Games Club meetup group. There are some interesting games on the menu here, Japanese Riichi Mahjong is apparently a favourite among regulars. And If you’re curious, you can pop in on select Sundays to learn how to play. There are lots of cosy nooks for gaming, a decent selection of classic and more obscure games, and lots of veggie, vegan and gluten free options on the menu. Combine with a stroll in Richmond park for a lovely Sunday jaunt to the suburbs, just don’t forget to book ahead if you want a table.

  • Where: Richmond: 86 Kew Road, Richmond TW9 2PQ
  • Nearest station: Richmond (Rail or District Line)
  • Costs: £5.00 per person per session, plus £10.00 minimum spend per person on food and drink

Rogues Quarter, Kentish Town

Like Bad Moon Cafe, Kentish Town’s Rogues Quarter is well set up for Wargaming, with massive 8×4 tables and Magic The Gathering events throughout the year. Probably not the place for anyone just wanting a gentle game of Pictionary, but there are some classics among the war games and fantasy adventure titles, including Twister and Buckaroo. Game rental is £5.00 per person for up to 3 hours, and there’s lots of snacks, small plates and burgers on the menu, as well as caffeinated beverages and booze.

  • Where: Kentish Town 155-157 Queens Crescent, London NW5 4EA
  • Costs: £5.00 per person per game session

And if you’re looking to connect with more board games enthusiasts, there are plenty of meet-up groups around London.

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