Descending the stairs to the main space of the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes you’ll soon realise that you are a world away from the slush-puppy-stained floor of the Streatham Megabowl (may it rest in peace). A neon-lit hub of bowling, karaoke, ping pong and comfort dining, it’s also one of Tavistock Square’s best party spots, hosting pop-party club nights every weekend.
We’ve arrived mid-week in the late afternoon, so the alley’s eight lanes are mostly empty except for a couple of families and keen pin-smashers. The lanes are an ideal set-up for a chilled night, accommodating up to six people for just £45 per hour. Alternatively you can go full throttle on the bowling party and grab all eight lanes for less than £500. The adjoining bar has a great selection of spirits, cocktails and beers on offer, so my friend and I grab a couple of pints of Lagunitas IPA (£5.70) to get the ball rolling.
Bar one incident at a party many years ago, where my sweaty 9-year-old paw sent a 10-pounder flying into the birthday girl resulting in broken glass and a lot of crying from both us, I have always been an enthusiastic bowler. I score a strike on the first ball, and while, like most of life’s successes, that proves to be a complete fluke, I still manage to knock out a fair share of spares over the course of the hour, coming out of the first game victorious. My bowling buddy is showing off her skills as well and while I run off to grab us a Negroni (£9) she clinches the second game. When I return she is complain-bragging about her bowling blister and explaining that she finally understands how the pros feel and I decide it’s probably time to hit the karaoke booth (starting £40 for up to 10 people).
With a sharp Mojito (£9) in hand, we line up a playlist of drunk white girl classics - that’s Pink, Avril, Gaga, Lorde and Kevin Lyttle’s ‘Turn Me On’. A fun Easter egg for all you weirdos who prefer feats of commonplace engineering to a booze-fuelled sing-song: one of the booths offers a great view of the bowling pin setter. So you can sit there and Boomerang shark switches while your friends have fun without you.
Following an hour of even-toned and spectacular trilling, we make for Ray’s Pizza & Diner, Bloomsbury Lanes’ in-house eatery. Decked out in big red booths, they’ve nailed the 1950’s kitsch and the food only adds to the look. Pizzas the size of the table, bulging burgers and tasty comfort eats reign supreme on the menu. After two hours of non-stop activity I’m ready to demolish my Big Fill Chicken Burger (£12.95) - a hefty fella packed with grilled chicken, swiss cheese, sticky marinated red peppers and a side of crispy french fries, washed down with a pint of Beavertown Neck Oil (£5). I also snaffle a slice of my friend’s Goat’s Cheese and Spinach pizza (£12.50 for 12") which offers a liberal topping of goat’s cheese, baby spinach, cherry tomato and black olives surrounded by a deliciously crispy crust.
The DesignMyNight Digest
If you’re looking for a chilled night on the lanes or an all-out party, Bloomsbury Lanes is one hell of an adult playground. With bowling, karaoke and club nights on hand, the bar is ready to keep the night going and the diner is there for when you go full Lebowski on the White Russians.