Draughts – London’s first board game café

Who could have guessed that board games would become ‘cool’ again in the Internet age?

The resurgence in popularity is clear for all to see. Not only are board specialist shops booming, but these days many pubs and cafés stock a few popular games for their patrons, and in cities around the world specialist board game cafes are springing up.

Draughts in Haggerston claims to be London’s first, and when I first went there just three weeks after opening, it was already thriving – we had to queue outside to get in. That’s in part because it’s located in a railway arch, which means that with only one fire exit their license is strict on numbers (when all the tables are full, there can be only one group waiting inside).

So what makes a specialist board games café?

Well, a library of over 500 popular, amazing, and in some cases, weird board games; a bar serving hot/cold drinks, beers, wines and food; and staff who will not only deliver food & drinks to your table, but also recommend & advise on games, and show you how to play them. Or you can show them, as in our case when we brought with us an Italian version of Risk! with some interesting variations on the rules (they don’t charge ‘corkage’ if you want to bring your own game)!

It makes for a really welcoming environment – noticeably balanced between the sexes – and there’s no games snobbery, whether you’re there to play the most sophisticated strategy game, Monopoly, or a simple kids’ game like Hungry Hippo!

For £5 per player you can play as long as you like, which is why, if you plan to visit on the weekend, you really want to get there early!

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