Time to play at the board games café

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Fed up with hearing about gimmicky hipster cafés? Me too.

But here’s one without the gimmick that’s worth hunting down: London’s first (and only) board games café, Draughts. If the thought of Monopoly, Cluedo, Hungry Hippos, Articulate, Scrabble, Game of Life and 400 other games excites you, you’re well overdue a visit.

This place isn’t just a pub with a few games thrown in; it’s a dedicated gaming zone with a bar to boot, and it’s bloody good fun.

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The premise is simple: for just £5 per person, you get a four hour slot and a table to play any number of games you wish. There’s food and drinks to keep you going (at extra cost, of course), so take along your buddies and make a night or afternoon of it.

The dedicated games corner has everything you could wish for, from the family favourites such as Doddle, Jenga, Articulate and Pictionary to more difficult strategy games such as Ticket to Ride. Everything is organised according to the games genre, too, so there’s no need to scramble through boxes.

What’s more, the staff AKA the ‘games gurus’ can help you pick a game if you’re unsure, or talk you through the rules.

I visited with a group of colleagues and it made for a fun-filled, alternative night out, perfect for those of us doing Dry January. We munched through sandwiches and sharing plates, and washed them down with soft drinks, wine and cider, and it ended up costing about £20pp.

Nestled under the arches in Haggerston, the board games café is a warm and cosy place to hide away in these cold months. If you are planning to visit on a weekday evening, try to book in advance as it is a very popular time. Booking isn’t required for the weekend but gamers are allowed in on a first come, first served basis, so if you’re eager to get a space you will have to get there for 10am sharp.

Bring your best game face – but maybe leave your overly competitive friends at home.

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The cutest café in zone 4: The Doll’s House on the Hill

If I ever own a café, I want it to be exactly like The Doll’s House. It’s highly unlikely that I’m ever going to own a café, but at this moment in time, that’s irrelevant.

Set up in a converted Georgian house, this cute, quaint and cosy café/tea room is a dream for every girl (or boy!) who ever loved playing with dolls houses. With mismatched wooden furniture and china cups, kitsch touches such as colourful lamps and wall hangings, it’s got a quirky, charming feel.Doll collage

Home baked cakes, cupcakes, macarons and pastries greet you from behind the counter, and another thing I really like is that the café is also sort of a shop – it’s stocked with unusual, small pieces to purchase, such as baking tools, jewellery holders, mugs and cute notepads, and these items change seasonally. Price tags hang from lots of the vintage furniture in the café too, so if anything takes your fancy, you can buy it.

What stands out at The Doll’s House is its cakes and scones. There are shakes, a variety of teas, afternoon tea and breakfast and lunch dishes too, but for a sweet-toothed person like myself, they don’t really compare. The café is always experimenting with new recipes, so there’s lots of variety, and it also serves gluten-free items.doll5

Staff are helpful and accommodating and although prices may not be as low as you’d hope, the food is of a good quality and portions are generous. This is one of those places to take your nearest and dearest for a uplifting cuppa and a cake – and a place you want to show off to friends visiting from afar.

The Doll’s House is located near the top of Harrow-on-the-Hill: look out for that duck-egg blue door and checkered window. It gets pretty busy at the weekends so if you plan on visiting, book in advance if you can. It doesn’t have its own parking, but there are quite a few spots on the street.

Getting back to that idea about owning a café – even if it never happens, I’m glad my dream café has already been materialised. Good job, Doll’s House.