London is having to work increasingly hard to keep locals and tourists flocking back to its brick-and-mortar casino establishments. The convenience and immersivity of the online casino scene are forcing the hand of the retail casino sector, which is attempting to carve its own niche. The wave of iGaming operators has saturated the UK marketplace, with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) now considered one of the most reputable jurisdictions for safe iGaming on the planet. There are quite literally dozens of online operators competing for the custom of Brits, as evidenced by the latest list of welcome offers at oddschecker. With so many appealing promotions and games available at the tap of a keyboard or mobile screen, why would anyone in the capital consider venturing out of their humble abode to play offline?
It’s true that many land-based casinos in London are situated in some of the most desirable areas of the city. Casinos in the Park Lane and Mayfair district of London’s West End generally focus on a very specific demographic of clientele. If you’re someone that doesn’t enjoy playing with the ‘riff-raff’, the casinos in the West End will usually tick the right boxes for you.
Furthermore, if you’re a tourist in the English capital, you’ll often find that these high-end casinos are well-situated for access to some of London’s finest hotels. Therefore, if you’re looking for a lavish evening of entertainment during your time in London, these hidden gems can offer convenience and sophistication combined.
A visit to one of London’s boutique casino establishments is not just about the gaming. It’s also about the wider experience. Most resorts will have their own exclusive in-house restaurants geared towards serving well-heeled guests.
For instance, at The Sportsman, this classic casino has an award-winning focal point that’s much more than just a casino restaurant. Zaman specialises in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours, bringing vibrant and contemporary dishes to the party. As with other London casinos, The Sportsman also offers a more laid-pack ‘Player’s Menu’, which includes lighter bites that are perfect for on-the-go gamers.
Exclusive bar areas
It’s not just good food that people can expect in the boutique casinos of London. Many casinos in the capital also have premium bar areas that allow you to drink in opulent surroundings. Forty Five Kensington describes its bar as “chic and stylish” and we’d tend to agree. The bar is open here from 3pm, seven days a week, serving up a luxurious list of fine wines, spirits, champagnes and cocktails alike.
The Park Lane Club also has its very own Club Lounge, overlooking the magnificence of Hyde Park and Park Lane. The bar offers a tranquil, intimate environment for guests to relax and unwind before or after gaming sessions. The Club Lounge employs highly-skilled mixologists to offer an extensive signature cocktail menu, as well as high-end champagnes, cognacs and whiskeys from around the globe.
A friendly, vibrant atmosphere
One of the endearing and enduring features of playing in a boutique land-based casino in London is the lively atmosphere on the casino floor. It’s a veritable melting pot of cultures and demographics, all of whom come together to try and beat the house. Regulars or members of these boutique resorts quickly build friendships with fellow patrons and even the dealers themselves, such is the sociable nature of these establishments.
Boutique casinos like the ones found in the capital can also be less intimidating for those new to casino gaming. The intimate settings make it feel more like you’re playing in your very own living room. This also makes it easier to build a rapport with the dealers, who will always do what they can to guide first-time players through the game.
Private gaming rooms
Some of these boutique casinos also have unique and private gaming locations for you to savour. The Park Lane Club is one such resort that offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing your favourite table games on its terrace with panoramic views of Hyde Park. The outdoor terrace – which is still covered – allows members to play in exclusive surroundings, complete with access to a fine array of Cuban cigars and select beverages. This gaming terrace is heated through the winter but in the summer months it can offer a cool retreat to enjoy those balmy evenings.
Forty Five Kensington also has a private gaming room, dedicated solely to its high-roller customers. Discerning bettors with deeper pockets are given access to the Queensberry Room, with a world-class setup in the heart of South Kensington.
Establishments with an eye for detail
There’s something quite wholesome about playing at a boutique London casino. These establishments are by no means a chain, which means they can invest in décor and casino equipment to stamp their own mark on their gaming environments. It’s the attention to the finer details, like state-of-the-art, bespoke roulette wheels finished with exquisite materials, through to high-end branded chips that just look and feel good to play with.
The three boutique resorts we’ve mentioned throughout this piece – Forty Five Kensington, Park Lane Club and The Sportsman – are certainly three of the best places to gamble in London. They each have their own identities, which makes it possible to alternate between them all and still get a very different gaming experience every time you venture into the capital. There’s also several other ‘chain’ operators of land-based casinos in more prominent locations, such as Aspers Casino’s Stratford City resort within Westfield. However, these venues cater more widely to the everyday punter, with more relaxed dress codes, and less opportunities to combine a gaming session with a high-end meal.
Of course, brand identity is something that’s very important to online casino operators too. In such competitive iGaming markets like the UK, branding is one of the key differentiators between sites. There will naturally be a place for online casino gaming, thanks largely to its accessibility and convenience. However, it’s clear that boutique land-based casinos can coexist in perfect harmony, acting as a broader leisure-based experience, fusing good food, good drink, good company and good gaming under one roof.