Last updated on October 30, 2022
On a Monday night recently, the Deluxe Backgammon team met after work and decided to put a new games venue to the test. The place in question was the board game café, Draughts, located in one of the arches around Waterloo Station, London. There are two Draughts cafes in London, the other being the original venue in the heart of Hackney. Draughts was the very first board game café in London and opened in November 2014. The idea behind the venue was to create a hub for all things related to board gaming, including playing, teaching and designing. The idea for the café was to play an active part in the community and help spread the joy of board gaming to everyone. After a considerable amount of effort and funding from a Kickstarter campaign, the first venue opened in a railway arch in Hackney.
We chose to visit the Waterloo branch of Draughts because it was easily accessible from our respective workplaces. Like its sister store, in Hackney, it is located in a railway arch. The surrounding area is known as The Vaults, a series of railway arches and tunnels decorated in technicolour graffiti. We arrived early evening without a booking, but there were a number of spare tables available and we were quickly seated. The young lady that guided us to the table was bubbly and polite. When we indicated it was our first time at Draughts, she very quickly explained how the venue worked and asked us if we need any help in selecting a game. She was very efficient and welcoming.
Bookings are strongly recommended because seating can be scarce during busy periods such as Friday nights and weekends. Reservations can be made by phone, email or online on the Draughts London website
Inside, the cavernous arch and the brickwork create a Spartan feel. It’s well-lit inside and the furnishings are clean and modern. The huge arch overhead gives the room an airy feeling and we wondered if the venue might get a little chilly in the winter. There are a couple of large wooden wall cabinets that are packed with hundreds and hundreds of board games. Although we sat on the ground floor, there was also another smaller playing area upstairs. The tables have a neat little shelf underneath that can be used to store unused gaming pieces. This is very useful because once you start adding a few drinks and food to the table it becomes very crowded.
The price is £6 per person (£5 per person at Hackney) for a gaming session of up to four hours. For the money, you get to explore the enormous library of games (800+) and play as many as you want. If you are not sure of what game to play or perhaps want to try something new, the friendly staff are on hand to recommend games and to demonstrate how to play. Children 13 and under only pay £3.50, although from 9 pm it is 18+ only. The Waterloo Draughts has free WiFi.
Food, drink and service.
Draughts serve cafe quality food, snacks and a range of local craft beers, ales, ciders, and wines for all those late-night sessions. Wine is available by the glass or bottle. There is also a small selection of in-house cocktails and a range of spirits. All of the prices are reasonable given the location in central London. The prices include table service, although we could imagine that it could get a little slow during peak times.
The staff were extremely helpful on the day, only too willing to explain the games and give us the time to decide what to play. However, they were probably a little disappointed when we decided to play backgammon after all of their efforts. It’s a really great place to go for a different experience. The Deluxe Backgammon team had a great time, the 4 hours flew by. It’s a really good games venue, with a fun atmosphere. The Draughts cafe is highly recommended by the Deluxe Backgammon team.
Prices were valid at the time of writing.
Monday 12:00 – 00:00
Tuesday 10:00 – 00:00
Wednesday 10:00 – 00:00
Thursday 10:00 – 00:00
Friday 10:00 – 01:00
Saturday 10:00 – 01:00
Sunday 10:00 – 00:00
London. Waterloo. 16 Leake Street, London SE1 7NN
Waterloo: 07903 441976
If you are looking for another venue to play backgammon, try The Understudy, Southbank, London.