Whether you're a serious bowler or a gutter-shooting no-hoper just looking for a fun night out, there's a bowling alley in London for you. While some are straight-up ball-and-skittle jobs, some of London's bowling alleys come replete with live music, retro ambience and boozy bars. So go ahead – lace up and pick a lane.
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London’s best bowling alleys
With London branches in Brick Lane, Holborn, Stratford and White City, All Star Lanes have really been bowling over the competition. Most of the venues have a '50s Americana style, but the newer venue at White City has gone for a more chic and contemporary Miami-come-art-deco vibe. All Star Lanes also do bites to eat, so if you're likely to get hungry between swings, they've got your back.
As much a hipster hang-out as a bowling alley, Bloomsbury Bowl boasts eight swish bowling lanes, five karaoke rooms, a bar, a diner, ping pong tables and a stage. If you're down to get dancey, then check out their website for details of upcoming gigs and club nights here.
With venues across the UK, Hollywood Bowl are certainly no underdogs. In London, you can find branches in Finchley, Tolworth, Surrey Quays and at the O2. For a taste of what's to come, the Surrey Quays venue has really run with the 'Hollywood' theme. There's an all-American diner which offers burgers, hotdogs and milkshakes and VIP lanes decorated with the faces of film icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Harrison Ford. If you're partial to those sweaty red-and-blue slippers they have those available, too.
This Finsbury Park institution offers so much more than bowling. As well as two floors of actual bowling lanes, you can play pool, spend hours on arcade games, sing karaoke, drink vodka slushies and dance to R 'n' B until inadvisably late. Prices are keen but if you're going at the weekend make sure to book ahead, and be prepared to pay an entrance fee of £3 from around 8pm.
Venue says: “Welcome to London, this summer is going be too hot or rainy 'n' grey! So come bowl, ice skate, curl, ice-go-kart or check out MEATliquor.”
The only place in London where you can throw a strike and zip across an ice rink, Queens is cool, edgy and filled with enough stuff to make for a pretty fun evening. As well as skating and bowling, there's also karaoke, a retro arcade, a bar, and food that features cuisine from the burger obsessed restaurant MEATliquor.
With an emphasis on deals and special offers, MFA is great for budget-bowlers. Based in Lewisham, this bowling alley has vintage vibes and a style that takes you straight back to childhood birthday parties. If you're looking to bowl it out after work, or if you're a tenpin-crazy night owl: it's £3 per game from 8pm-11pm on Friday and Saturday.
Okay, so it's not the most modern bowling alley in the city and a visit necessitates a trip through what's surely one of the ugliest shopping centres on Earth. Still, this 26-lane establishment must be tatty enough by now to qualify as 'vintage' - and if nothing else, the prices are certainly right. Students who pitch up on a Monday or Tuesday can bowl for just £3.45 a game and there are generous mid-week deals for everyone else, too.
Focused on family fun, the Acton branch of Tenpin is a pretty standard affair. The venue has several bowling lanes, pool, NAMCO arcade machines, and cosmic bowling for all UV-loving neon-ravers. If you're feeling peckish, then food and drink comes in the familiar form of American style burgers, chips and hotdogs, and the bar is fully licensed. Want to hear the sound of a strike? Then aim straight or you'll end up in the gutter.