The Best Bingo Halls In London
12 December, 2019
Bingo halls were once a staple part of the British urban landscape. They were a place where communities came together to socialise, relax and have fun. Particularly in the 1960s, when 150,000 people a day visited British bingo halls and there were over 14 million registered players in the country.
The emergence of bingo sites online in the mid-2000s looked likely to be the final nail in the coffin of land-based bingo, which by that point was lightyears from its peak of popularity in the Swinging Sixties.
However, the popularity of online bingo served to stimulate the land-based sector, rather than destroying it. Bingo halls are now experiencing a renaissance and nowhere more so than in London.
If you’re a bingo lover in the capital, you’re very much spoiled for choice. Here’s a selection of just a handful of great bingo halls to visit in London.
The London Palace
Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, SE1 6TE
There was a time, not too long ago when visiting Elephant & Castle, especially at night, would have been a foolish idea. However, in the past decade or so, the borough has undergone somewhat of a facelift and is now a thriving, trendy area.
As well as being popular with hipsters, Elephant & Castle is also home to the biggest bingo venue in the capital – The London Palace.
This venue is open seven days a week, regularly welcoming 2,000 players a night into its vast playing area, which is equivalent in size to Wembley Stadium.
Away from the fun of the bingo, there are are two tasty restaurants to help keep your energy levels up whilst dabbing your cards. International buffet-style cuisine is on offer in one, with the other focusing on tasty, homemade style Caribbean food. Delicious!
Mecca Bingo Camden
180 Arlington Road, NW1 7HL
If you’re looking for a steady bingo hall close to home, you can’t go far wrong with Mecca Bingo Camden. It’s situated just next door to the Odeon cinema and is easily served by public transport – Camden High Street bus stop is just around the corner and Camden Town tube station is only a 2-minute walk away.
Mecca Bingo Camden is open seven days a week until midnight, usually opening its doors at 11.30 am each day. Main event sessions can cost up to £17, but you should be able to get into most other sessions for around £5/£6.
The club generates a great atmosphere with a fun, friendly and welcoming group of regular patrons from the local community. It can, however, get super busy on main event nights when crowds swell to just under 1,200 venue capacity number.
You probably couldn’t wish for a better bingo hall right on your doorstep, but if you’re looking for something different, something very different, you might want to head to Shoreditch…
The Queen of Hoxton
1-5 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX
Shoreditch has a burgeoning reputation with Londoners and those from further afield as the home to some of the country’s quirkiest and coolest bars. The Queen of Hoxton is one such example of the eclectic entertainment on offer in Shoreditch, playing host to a hipsters delight of club nights throughout the week.
It is not just dance music, and craft beer that makes the Queen of Hoxton stand out though. The bars USP is it’s semi-regular drag bingo evenings, which draw in huge crowds from all over the capital.
If you haven’t heard of drag bingo before, don’t worry, you’re not in the minority, it’s only just starting to make its way into the mainstream in this country. Despite initially appearing in North America over 30 years ago, it has taken all this time for drag bingo to finally catch on in Europe.
What initially started as a fun way to raise funds for underrepresented groups in America, has snow gone on to become a worldwide commercial success. Some of the most talented drag queens in the country and from further afield appear at the Queen of Hoxton to MC these bingo events.
If you’ve ever tuned into Ru Paul’s Drag Race and enjoyed the fiery brand of witty humour in the show, you’ll love the drag bingo evenings at the Queen of Hoxton. Before planning your visit, double-check the bar’s website to find a list of upcoming events.
Buzz Bingo Stratford
341-351 High Street, E15 4QZ
After taking in bingo with a twist, you might want to travel back in time and enjoy the game as it was back in the heady days of the 1960s. Buzz Bingo in Stratford is the perfect conduit for this time-travelling mission.
It’s a bingo hall where the players take the game very seriously indeed, heading down not just to socialise and meet-up with friends, but to beat their fellow players and scoop the jackpot.
Even if you don’t win big at Buzz Bingo, you’ll feel as though you’ve made a saving as games are fairly cheap. However, the biggest draw is the price of the food and alcohol – you can buy a full meal and a pint for less than a tenner, can you do that anywhere else in London?
In recent years Buzz Bingo has tried to modernise, whilst still maintaining a balance of nostalgia. Some of the traditional gaming tables have been replaced with screen terminals, where you can play as well as order drinks and food.
It has helped to make this bingo hall the ideal venue for bingo lovers of all ages and tastes.