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Matthew Pearson

Bowling Alleys in London: Our Favourites

The best bowling alleys in London, including...

  • A Finsbury Park favourite, open til late
  • The London mini-chain that looks set for UK domination
  • The ice skating rink/bowling alley/ice karting/curling/beer pong mashup mastering all trades in West London.
  • And much, much more

Bowling, Bowling, Bowling

Are you good at bowling? Do you get strike after strike or do you just strike out? Are you the Spare Queen or a Spare Wheel? King of the Lanes or Lord of the Gutter? Do you wear bowling shoes to work, weddings and weekend lie-ins with a loved one? Or do you look like an absolute clown in them? Do you have to apologise to the couple on a first date on the lane next to yours because, despite being as careful as possible, your ball somehow strayed onto their lane and knocked down all their skittles? Do you bring your own ball, impossibly shiny, your initials engraved into the cool aqua blue of your globular world beater? Or do you just take the balls as they come to you, get your fingers stuck in one with holes too small and end up propelling you and your new 10 pound glove down the lane, smashing into the pins yourself, and still you only knock 3 down? Do you need to apologise to that nice couple again? Are you constantly telling everyone how to correct their bowling posture even though they’ve repeatedly told you that they are ok and it’s just meant to be a bit of fun and it’s nicer working it out for themselves in a way? Dude, you sponsored? Is your perfect game hitting 365 or just making sure you don’t finish under Simon, bloody Simon, always Simon. Do you need to apologise to the 40th birthday party on the lane BEYOND the nice couple on a first date because you’ve now somehow adjusted your range to include their pins too?

Bloomsbury Lanes

The gourmet option. There are only eight bowling lanes down at Bloomsbury, and the place has been sculpted into postwar American perfection. They do bowling by the hour, rather than the game, so it’s particularly popular with groups. Because of this, its karaoke booths and its location, Bloomsbury Lanes is a party favourite. When it comes to food, Ray’s Pizza and Diner carry on the Americana love-in with burgers and dogs sporting punny names and pizzas that go as big as 26”. Conquer that and you’ll look like you’re trying to steal a bowling ball under your shirt when you come to leave. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Bloomsbury Lanes is open until late, hosting a number of popular throwback club nights. There’s a five lane private bowling space for hire too. The Kingpin Suite, as it’s known, boasts a karaoke room, pool, ping pong, tons of arcade machines and a brand new indoor cricket simulator. At Bloomsbury, they don’t save any lanes for walk ins, so it’s really best to book ahead. If you think that bowling is all suburban industrial estate gaudiness, sticky floors and stinky shoes, head to Bloomsbury. They’ll change your mind. [caption id="attachment_5853" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

bloomsburybowling.com[/caption]

All Star Lanes

This 10 pin mini empire has been leading the way when it comes to Stars and Stripes-flavoured entertainment. All Star Lanes have committed a lot of time, money and effort to looking as good as they do, with the bowling lanes shipped in from the US and each section of their alleys perfectly curated. Some bowling alleys in London can feel hectic, but not All Star: the flow from bar to bowl to restaurant is seamlessly put together, it never feels like a free-for-all, like a post-apocalyptic world run by the under 10s. Aesthetics wise, it’s retro futurism meets postwar American suburbia. Their stacked burgers look more ready to topple than that last pin, and the cocktail menu boasts a number of scene-stealing boozy milkshakes. All Star are very popular on the work party circuit too, so get in touch if you want to book a room with private lanes, dedicated bar staff and perambulating plates of diner-style nibbles. A bowl-off in a private room at All Star is one way of working out who gets a bonus this year. Or try out a private karaoke room, if you need to work out who isn’t going to have a job next year. Workin’ 9 to 5? Not anymore, son. [caption id="attachment_5852" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

allstarlanes.co.uk[/caption]

Rowans Tenpin Bowl

Rowans is a late night place with a big reputation. A local stalwart that’s just as good for families and kids’ parties as it is with older bowlers and weekend partiers. It’s massive too, with 24 lanes and a load of extras on offer. The look of the place was surely always meant to be retro. But that retro look has had time to mature and become retro itself. So Rowans is retro twice over, it’s twice as retro as all the other retro bowling alleys in London (all the bowling alleys in London). Rowans looks genuinely outdated and kitsch in a way newer spots could only dream of. It is charmingly worn, sporting a look it’ll take all the young lanes a few more years to emulate effectively. And the look helps the atmosphere in these kinds of places (that’s why the newer places spend so much on their styling), and the atmosphere at Rowans is electric. Open until the wee hours at the weekends, massive screens showing all sport ever, 14 pool tables. And it’s right next to Finsbury Park tube. They know what they’re doing at Rowans.

QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl

Bowling wise, they’ve got 12 competition-standard lanes. Pretty, pretty, pretty good, we’re sure you’ll agree. If it was just judged on the bowling, QUEENS would be one of the best bowling alleys in London. But there’s a lot more to QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl than the bowling. Much more. You might have been able to tell from the name. It’s central London’s only year-round ice rink, always open for skating and sometimes curling (!) and ice karting. Yep, ice karting is exactly what you imagine it is. Nope, you’re probably not going to be as good as you think you’ll be. There’s a beer pong zone with flashy electronic tables, bringing the classic American college drinking game into the 21st Century. Food and drink comes from MEATliquor, who are a big deal in the world of big burgers (meaty and plant-based) and punchy cocktails. The cocktail bar, neatly named The Sin Bin, runs along the entire length of the ice rink, so when you tire of falling flat on your face and watching out for your fingers, grab yourself something to perk you up a bit. With so much bowling, and so much beyond the bowling, QUEENS is all things to all people, a master of all trades. And it’s absolutely massive. Three football pitches massive. London Pass holders are entitled to one skate session at QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl. [caption id="attachment_5851" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

queens.london[/caption]

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl is a big bowling business with big bowling places across the whole big bowling country. In London, there’s a Hollywood Bowl at Surrey Quays, in Finchley, in Tolworth, and there’s a Hollywood Bowl at The O2 too. Hollywood Bowl venues are particularly good for families with kids, with good deals on throughout the week, a varied menu with plenty of kid options and big, bright, cheery interiors. Where other bowling alleys in London can be like hidden dens for grown ups to mess about in, Hollywood Bowl venues are giant, open plan, accessible play zones for kids. In each venue you’ll find an amusements zone which is crammed full with retro and new games for all ages. At The O2, try your brain out on their Virtual Reality games, including Mario Kart and Godzilla. These are for over 10s only. Hollywood are getting into the work party scene too, with drinks deals and private bowling rooms to book. [caption id="attachment_5850" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

hollywoodbowl.co.uk[/caption]

Lewisham Bowl

Another bowling alley in London that’s great for kids. Previously MFA Bowl, Lewisham Bowl offers some great deals on family bowling. That includes by-the-hour bowling, so you don’t have to stress about how long the little ones are taking to set up that ramp thing. What is that ramp thing called, anyway? I’ve never used it, honest. Didn’t even know they existed until just now. Nope, not me. If you head to Lewisham Bowl after 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll get to enjoy glow bowling. The lights go down, the glow-in-the-dark parts come to life and the whole thing has a cooler, slicker, more futuristic atmosphere. If you’re bowling with friends, check out the unlimited bowling options, available for those with a minimum of four in their group. When the last ball’s been thrown, head over to the Namco arcade and pool area to settle the scores that games on the lanes couldn’t resolve. Food-wise, Lewisham Bowl keeps things accessibly simple, with a slim menu of burgers, dogs, nachos and sharing plates. Kids meal deals are particularly good value. So if you’ve got a kids party to arrange and you’re worried about how many mouths you’ll have to feed, Lewisham Bowl is a good bet.

So, those are our top pick bowling alleys in London. Let us know in the comments below if you have any others you want to add. Do you need some grub in your bowl after your bowl? Then look over here.

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