Christmas parties in London. In years past, the standard was to book out the private dining area of one of the city’s thousands of restaurants and force fun on your guests in the form of party hats, jokes, and if you were feeling really adventurous, a quiz. Memorable, it is not, and it’s likely to just fade into dusty memories where your guests are unable to distinguish one year from another.
If you’re lucky enough to have a healthy Christmas party budget, you can throw some spectacular parties in this fine city; some of the biggest brands have thrown some absolute whoppers for their lucky staff in the past decade. But for everyone in between, looking for something that transcends making awkward small talk with your colleagues and clients, but doesn’t involve budget to cover venue hire, catering, entertainment and décor separately, here’s our pick of some of the best alternatives you can find in the city.
The word ‘darts’ has a real ability to conjure up images of grotty, downtrodden pubs, shabby carpets and beer bellies; which is probably why it’s not been used in the name of this modern, stylish darts bar. In their own words, flight club is ‘making darts sexy again’ with a cutting-edge electronic scoring system, and delicious pizza and cocktails rather than the expected fare of scary salted peanuts in an ashtray on the bar.
With 2 locations, one in Shoreditch and the other in Bloomsbury, you’re covered for either a central or a trendy location. You can hire anything from one ocre (darts-playing area), to the whole venue if you don’t want to share. All the scoring is taken care of electronically, and you can order food and drink to be delivered directly to you as you play your game- which isn’t just standard darts – there are loads of other playing options too which make this so much more exciting. Whether or not anything can actually make darts ‘sexy’ remains to be seen, but we recommend you try it and decide for yourself if you’re looking for something a bit different for this year’s Christmas shindig.
The experience and décor of this lively speakeasy bar will be enough to get your guests talking on its own. On arrival, you’ll be met by a smartly dressed doorman, and even getting inside involves immersing yourself in this 1940’s fantasy. Anything other than announcing under your breath that you’re ‘here to see the captain’ will most likely see you turned away, even if you have a reservation! The staff will remain in character at all times and take this very seriously.
The venue was actually once used as an air raid shelter, but has since been transformed into an Underground station, complete with a vintage tube carriage. They advertise ‘high spirits, scoundrels and swing’ and they’re not lying, this place is keeping the spirit of The Blitz alive right in the heart of Soho.
Although this sounds like one of those popular, and often cringe-worthy immersive experiences, Cahoots sets the standard by simply providing a stunningly furnished party atmosphere. You don’t need to dress up, but you’d not look out of place if you wanted an excuse to wear your Biggles fighter goggles, or vintage swing dress there. Themed bars can be a bore, but the charm of this little gem will impress even the most jaded Londoner.
It feels all wrong to describe an igloo as ‘hot’, but they most definitely are this year, and are springing up all over the city like a very chilly wildfire! The concept was introduced last year by Coppa Club at Tower Bridge which took the city by storm. This year the concept has been copied all over the city and there are a number of different options for you to try.
These aren’t the place for you if you’re looking to throw a large-scale party, but for a more setting for a client, or if you have a small office, these are absolutely spot on. You’ll be provided with snuggly blankets, festive cocktails and winter themed food (anyone for a melty cheese fondue?) while you watch the world go by from the comfort of your very own little capsule.
Although there are now multiple locations to choose from, we’d recommend getting in touch to book one of these as early as possible if they’re going to be as popular as last year.
4.Wonderball at Bounce
The future of Ping Pong has arrived at Bounce in Farringdon and Old Street! This is not ping pong like you’ve ever played it before; it’s become a giant computer game using state of the art projection mapping with a large number of options of games to play, meaning that unlike the old version of ping pong, very little skill is actually needed to have a brilliant time. Food and drink options come in the form of pizzas, beer, wine and cocktails*, with fancy finger food being served to large groups in the semi-private area, which holds up to 40 people.
For an extra fee, you can hire a ‘Games Guru’ who will guide you through the high tech table games and generally show you how to get the best out of the technology. Larger parties pre-order their food and drink which is delivered directly to their area allowing them to fiercely compete, uninterrupted, to their heart’s content.
* note cocktails may or may not improve your game.
The hottug canal boat appeared on the scene in July this year, floating Londoner’s down the Regent’s Canal for 90 minutes in wood-fired bubbly water. Each 12 foot hottug is able to hold up to 7 people, travelling at a speed of up to 3mph. The water is heated to a delightful 38 celsius meaning that even in the dead of winter, you’ll be toasty and warm as you set sail on your 90-minte voyage (don’t worry, they change the water between each sailing, so hygiene shouldn’t be a concern).
You can choose to rent just a single hot tug, or large groups can split themselves between the fleet, finishing on an old Thames Barge for food and drink, which can house up to 80 people. Drinks packages are available to ensure you’re just as toasty on the inside, as the out while out on the canal, and if you want to get really festive, they’ll arrange to provide you with Santa hats and Christmas décor. As long as you can handle the cold run from changing rooms to hot tug, and back to the steamy showers and fluffy towels which will await your arrival back on land, then we’re pretty sure you won’t find a more unconventional Christmas party activity than this one.