If you're looking for a fun activity to do at the pub but you're hopeless at quizzes, terrible at pool, and would clear the room with your karaoke skills, settling in somewhere for a few drinks over a board game is a great alternative. London has lots of places where you can play board games, including plenty of cosy pubs and dedicated board game cafés. If playing in public is the only way you can avoid the traditional family row over Monopoly, this guide is for you – the guide to where to play board games in London.
Where to play board games in London
In this guide
The best venues for board games in London
- Draughts – Bars for board games
- Library Pot – Games in Richmond
- The Muse Lounge – Stylish and welcoming
- Norfolk Square Gardens – Outdoor chess
- The Sun of Camberwell – Quirky traditional pub
- The Den – Modernist escape
- The Understudy – Riverside theatre bar
- Bad Moon Café – Lots of gaming fun
- The Wells – Sophisticated Hampstead pub
- Plonk – More than just golf
- Rule Zero – A whole floor for gaming
- The Beehive – Cosy pub in Tottenham
- The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms – Friendly Holloway local
- The Royal Albert – Smart South East London pub
- The Gallery – Buzzy local bar
- The Rosemary Branch – Vibrant multipurpose space
- The King & Co – Cosy Clapham pub
- The Gladstone Arms – Traditional family-run pub
- Rogues Quarter – Hotspot for games
- Sylvan Post – Quirky pub in converted space
- The Old Red Lion – Eye-catching mock-Tudor pub
- The Charlotte Despard – Action-packed pub
- Escape Bar – Time to escape
- Loading Bar – All about games
- The Pembury Tavern – Simple and cosy
- The Dove – Traditional Hackney pub
- The Three Compasses – Long-established East London pub
- The Boogaloo – Lively North London venue
- The Ludoquist – Huge choice of games
- Monopoly Lifesized – A unique way to play
- The Steam Passage – In the heart of Islington
- Tea House Theatre – Lively tea house
- Coffee Zee – Friday night chess club
- Richard the First – Join the backgammon club
The best venues for board games in London
Bars for board games
Now with two locations, Draughts is London's first bar that's dedicated to board games. Players will find thousands of options on the shelves here, turning games into a lively and modern pastime. The space is comfortable and you can enjoy drinks from cocktails to craft beer plus tempting burgers and tacos whilst you play.
Games in Richmond
Board games are the main attraction at Library Pot, a simple restaurant and café with a big choice of games to play and its own mahjong leagues. Children and larger groups are welcome at this busy spot. The menu includes burgers, pizza, and curries, plus alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available.
Stylish and welcoming
West London's The Muse Lounge is a style-conscious spot for food, drinks, shisha, and board games. It's a buzzy space with a wide assortment of modern and classic games available. Pair them with European and Middle Eastern dishes that go from small snacks to substantial meals like lasagne, plus alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Play chess outside with a giant game set at Norfolk Square Gardens in Paddington. This leafy garden square is flanked with trees and Grade II listed houses, and has a well-groomed lawn that's ideal for walks and picnics. The giant chess set is a big draw here, making the classic game even more challenging and fun.
Quirky traditional pub
The Sun of Camberwell has a friendly and relaxed vibe and a quirky look that blends the old with the new. This traditional pub has a spacious beer garden, a broad choice of drinks and classic British food, and plenty of comfy corners to settle into with one of their board games. The pub does a traditional Sunday roast and there are spaces for private hire.
Brimming with modern style, The Den at St Martin's Lane is a laid-back spot for food or drinks, including afternoon tea. It's a cosy venue that feels like a retreat from the outside world. You'll find modern British cooking on the menu, a wide choice of drinks, and a selection of board games.
Riverside theatre bar
Based at The National Theatre, The Understudy is a lively pub with a cool contemporary interior and fab views of the river. The drinks list is focused on craft beer but other drinks like wine and spirits are served. Bar snacks are on offer too, and you can enjoy a board game whilst you relax in this on-trend space.
Lots of gaming fun
Easygoing venue Bad Moon Café has plenty to keep gamers entertained. The venue has a large library of board games as well as tables for Warhammer and Magic: The Gathering. It puts on events and tournaments too. In the simple and stripped-back space you can play a game whilst sampling pizza and a wide choice of drinks including hot drinks, cocktails, and other alcoholic drinks.
Sophisticated Hampstead pub
Grade II listed pub The Wells Tavern was built around 1849 and remains a popular venue in Hampstead. It's a smart and airy setting with indoor and outdoor tables, plus private dining spaces. Classic British food is on the menu and the drinks list is varied. Dogs are welcome here and there's a selection of board games for guests to play.
More than just golf
Although Plonk is best known as a fun spot for crazy golf, the locations in Hackney and Borough Market are also destinations for board game lovers. The golf courses feature nine holes of challenging fun but you're also welcome to visit just to hang out in the cosy bar and enjoy a few drinks with your favourite board game.
A whole floor for gaming
Located along the canal in Hackney Wick, Rule Zero is a quirky drinking spot with an entire floor dedicated to tabletop games. Play chess, cards, or Scrabble, or take the chance to learn how to play a new game from the friendly staff. You can also sample a varied range of drinks and snacks here.
Cosy pub in Tottenham
Tottenham's The Beehive is a cosy local pub with three rooms and a beer garden. Expect classic pub grub and a varied selection of beers and ales. There's plenty of entertainment too including live gigs, life drawing sessions, and a choice of board games to go with your drinks.
Friendly Holloway local
Just off Holloway Road, The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms is a friendly pub with a terrace. This award-winning pub has a traditional interior and attracts a diverse clientele. Help yourself to one of the board games stacked up on the bar whilst you enjoy a drink. The pub offers a full range of drinks but gin is a speciality.
Smart South East London pub
New Cross pub The Royal Albert is a sophisticated drinking spot that has a classic look and a buzzing atmosphere. There are events like live jazz, a pub quiz, and life drawing, or you can simply play a board game over a few drinks. A full range of drinks are served plus seasonal food, including a classic roast every Sunday.
Buzzy local bar
If you're looking for a bustling neighbourhood bar in West Hampstead, check out The Gallery. This place is on-trend with wooden flooring and exposed brick walls. The venue does a varied range of drinks, including cocktails, and a few food options like burgers, sandwiches, and fried chicken. There are a few board games that you can play plus there's a weekly quiz.
Vibrant multipurpose space
On the border of Islington and Hackney there's The Rosemary Branch, a theatre, pub, and kitchen. This vibrant space has colourful walls and comfy sofas where you can relax with a drink. In the pub you can play board games whilst enjoying something from the pub's 23 beer lines. The food menu focuses on pub favourites and a variety of events take place in the theatre.
Cosy Clapham pub
Clapham pub The King & Co is modern but still cosy. It's an exciting place to eat, hosting a rotating selection of street food vendors. At the bar there's a great selection of beer, with 18 keg lines and six cask lines. You can play board games here or come for events like DJ sets, live acoustic music, and pub quizzes.
Traditional family-run pub
Based near London Bridge, The Gladstone Arms is a cheerful family-run pub with lots going on. It has an intimate roof terrace as well as a cosy indoor lounge. You'll find locally-brewed beers at the bar plus a menu of pub grub with an Indian influence. Board games are available plus there's regular live music and comedy.
Hotspot for games
In Kentish Town you'll find Rogues Quarter, a simple board game café with a homey look. You can browse a large library of board games or play war games on the huge gaming tables. The venue also runs gaming tournaments with prizes. Tapas and bigger plates like nachos are served, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Quirky pub in converted space
Based in Forest Hill's old post office, Sylvan Post is a quirky pub that retains some of the post office's original fittings. There's vintage furniture, a strong sense of community, and an extensive choice of cask ale and craft beer to try. The food menu centres on upscale pub grub, including a Sunday roast. Board games are available and events like quizzes take place.
Eye-catching mock-Tudor pub
You'll notice The Old Red Lion thanks to its striking mock-Tudor style, complete with low ceilings and beams inside. This is a Grade II listed pub that's been open since the 1930s. There's a menu of classic pub food like gammon steak or haddock and chips but you can also settle into a cosy corner with your favourite board game and an ale or glass of wine.
Between Archway and Highgate you'll find The Charlotte Despard, an airy and comfortable pub with a resident cat. This pub has a big choice of beer, wine, and real ale, as well as plenty of activities to keep the atmosphere going. Relax with a board game, play darts or pool, or join the weekly quiz.
Time to escape
Head to Escape Bar when you need to get away from it all. There's a laid-back and fun atmosphere, a wide range of drinks including keg beers, and lots going on to keep you entertained. Choose from the large selection of board games on offer, or drop in for live music, quizzes, and open mic nights.
All about games
Gamers are in for a treat at Loading Bar. Whether you prefer board games or video games, you'll find heaps of choice plus game-themed cocktails. You're welcome to stay as long as you like at this friendly venue and all games are free to play if you're buying a drink.
Simple and cosy
At The Pembury Tavern you'll find a huge choice of beer, including guest brews, plus authentic Neapolitan pizza to munch on. Spaces for private hire are available too. The pub's interior has a simple look and there are plenty of cosy spaces to settle in with a drink and a board game.
Traditional Hackney pub
Family-run pub The Dove has a traditional look and sits in the heart of bustling Broadway Market. There are outdoor tables too next to the classic tiled exterior walls. A vast selection of global wines and beers, including more than 100 bottled options, are served. Thai and classic British dishes are available, plus there are board games to keep you busy.
Long-established East London pub
Award-winning pub The Three Compasses is an authentic East London boozer that's been around for hundreds of years. It has a fun and lively atmosphere enhanced by live sport, pub quizzes, and drag bingo, but you can also settle in with a board game. The bar focuses on cocktails and craft beer whilst street food pop-ups provide the food.
Lively North London venue
North London's The Boogaloo is a top party destination with its own radio station broadcasting from a converted bin shed in the garden. This eclectic venue is simple and understated, serving a range of drinks and classic pub grub. Board games are available to pass the time plus there are events like comedy clubs, live music, and a pub quiz.
Huge choice of games
If you're in Croydon, head to board game café The Ludoquist. This blue-fronted venue has over 1,400 games to try out, including jigsaws, games for children, and complex strategy games. There's a fun atmosphere here and a tempting menu of pizza, paninis, snacks, and a varied range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including tea and coffee.
A unique way to play
Bring Monopoly to life at Monopoly Lifesized, a unique activity that's great with friends, family, or for team-building. Make your way around a giant life-sized game board, take on challenges, and earn as much cash as you can. There's an on-site bar and restaurant where you can relax after your game.
In the heart of Islington
In Upper Street you'll find The Steam Passage Tavern, a friendly and contemporary pub with indoor and outdoor tables. Kids and dogs are welcome in here. As well as live sport and a varied choice of drinks and food, the pub has board games for guests to enjoy. Serious gamers can drop in on a Monday, which is designated as board game night and packed with competitive fun.
Lively tea house
Check out Tea House Theatre, a lively venue combining a café, British restaurant, and theatre space that hosts a wide range of performances. Get cosy here with a cup of tea - books, newspapers, and a selection of classic board games are on offer to keep you occupied - think chess, Scrabble, Ludo, and dominos. Food is also available here throughout the day.
Friday night chess club
If you fancy your chances in a chess tournament, head to Coffee Zee in Holloway Road. This work-friendly coffee shop has a laid-back feel and serves house-roasted coffee as well as a variety of fresh café food like sandwiches. Spaces are available for hire here too. On Fridays there's an after-hours chess club where you can compete against other local players.
Join the backgammon club
Greenwich pub Richard the First has a certain level of notoriety, but is also a pleasant destination for drinks and homemade British food. Board game fans can visit for the monthly backgammon club where you can meet other players, put your skills to the test, and sample food and drinks in a friendly atmosphere.