While Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world London has its own unique brand of casinos. Forget the brash and neon-soaked atmosphere of Vegas, these tend to be more refined and exclusive and have more in common with a private members’ club.
It’s a city that also has quite a reputation for some of the most unusual kinds of wagers one of the most famous was made in the Reform Club in Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days in which Phileas Fogg takes on a bet for £20,000 that he will not be able to complete the feat.
Admittedly, none of the casinos listed here would be places where such a bet could be struck today but it does give an idea of London’s gaming heritage.
One of the capital’s oldest casinos still operating today is Crockfords in Mayfair. It was originally a private members’ gaming club that was established in 1828 by William Crockford. Today the club offers what it describes as a classical ambience with a contemporary twist with both gaming rooms and salles privées. Games on offer include American Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker.
Also in Mayfair, Les Ambassadeurs, or “Les A” as it is referred to by its members, was first opened in the early 19th century and at one point in its history was owned by the Rothschild family. Its interior has been lavishly restored in recent years and it’s said to have some of the finest oak staircases of any grand London house. It also offers a unique opportunity to enjoy open-air gaming during the summer.
The Grosvenor brand is one that’s recognised internationally in gaming circles and perhaps their most impressive London casino is in Coventry Street near Piccadilly. It may not have quite the formality of Crockfords or Les Ambassadeurs but it more than makes up for this in the range of entertainment opportunities that it offers. As well as a large gaming room there’s a first class restaurant as well as numerous bars, including one dedicated to showing all the major events of the sporting calendar.
The Hippodrome Casino near Covent Garden may be the closest that the capital gets to Vegas-style razzmatazz. Set over four floors in the former Hippodrome Theatre there are all the gaming rooms and slots you could ever want as well as six bars and an award-winning restaurant. There’s also a 180 seat cabaret room with a frequently changing programme of comedy, music and even burlesque shows for when you fancy a break from the tables.
Of course, not all of the action is in the centre of London. Head out a little way to the east and you’ll find the Aspers Club, Stratford. It’s billed as the UK’s first super casino and boasts 70 gaming tables and 300 slots and video slots. It also plays host to major poker tournaments throughout the year.
So hopefully this has given you a great choice of casinos to visit in London whatever your taste. Now why not head for any of them and see if the capital’s streets really are paved with gold?