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The Best Bars and Cafes for Bristolian Gamers!

Feb 25, 2020
The Best Bars and Cafes for Bristolian Gamers
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The Best Bars and Cafes for Bristolian Gamers


Written for Bristol Bites by Alex Quintana


Everyone knows about the sort of games that are usually on offer at pubs and bars, with staples like darts and pool being combined with slots and quiz machines. However, many people now want a more varied gaming experience, often at a venue that’s dedicated to the games themselves rather than the consuming of drinks and food.

So whether you plump for board games like Catan, classics like chess and backgammon, or prefer the quickfire format of Deal or No Deal, it’s your call as to which of these Bristol establishments you choose to frequent.

Chance & Counters

This snug little café, nestled at the bottom of what are known as the Christmas Steps, was the first café in the city to ever offer board games. It remains a popular hangout, boasting an unbeatable range of over 850 games, both old and new. For those who don’t like their games interrupted by last orders, the café stays open till midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Add to this a tasty menu with vegan and gluten-free options, paired with local craft beers and ciders, and this really is the sort of place you can while away many an hour, whether you treat board games as a matter of life and death or just as a bit of fun.


This is the King Kong of gaming bars, combining late night drinking with retro arcade faves, perfect for that nerdy date or groups of friends who can’t help but compete. Among their array of old school games are Golden Axe, Mortal Kombat and Metal Slug, meaning you can take a time warp back to days spent in arcades hammering buttons and wrenching joysticks. For eyes weary of screens, Kongs also has table tennis on tap.

Bristol gaming cafes


8Bit Planet

Strictly speaking, this is neither a bar nor a café, but for those serious about their gaming, 8Bit Planet is a venue you need to know about. This shop also regularly doubles as a playroom, allowing dedicated gamers to come and test their skills. When there aren’t organised games going on, you can always just drop by and play on their selection of retro consoles as you peruse.

The White Harte

Due to its proximity to the university, Bristolian students have a special place in their hearts for The White Harte, which by day is a chilled board game and arcade hangout, but by night can get somewhat out of control. This change of pace is what makes the place, and before it gets rowdy later in the night there are some superb games to enjoy such as air hockey, pool and board games. If you like your gaming experience with a splash of teen spirit and grunge, then this is the joint for you.


For players always drawn back to that replay button or a revenge mission, Replay is the ideal venue. Cheaper than Chance & Counters, it offers a similar service with only 300 games – but really, how many games can you realistically play in the space of a few hours? They also offer ping pong, on the house during the week, and for a minimal fee at weekends.

The Lanes

For an altogether American vibe, gaming punters should don their bowling shoes and hit The Lanes. This is far more than just your usual MegaBowl, full of husbands flaunting their builder’s bums as their wives sit with their arms crossed wondering if they’ll contract athlete’s foot from the hideous red and blue rental shoes they’ve been forced to wear. Oh no! At The Lanes there’s a fully stocked bar and dinner, a karaoke room for when the cocktails kick in, and of course five lanes to strike the night away on. If you want to throw a birthday party that harks back to your youth, or want to run a work night out designed to have people loosen the hell up, you could do far worse than this bowling alley with a difference.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and challenge your friends, your partner, your mum or even your dog to a game. We promise you won’t regret it!


Images via PXHere – here and here

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