There’s no question about it that, along with other cities like New York, Paris, Sydney, and Berlin, London is a truly world-class city. That’s why it attracts well over 20 million visitors each year. Many come to see famous sights like Nelson’s Column, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Others come for the shopping at stores like Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum and Mason.
Then there’s the nightlife, with many of the world’s best theatre performances to enjoy and exclusive restaurants and fashionable bars and clubs to savour. Some visitors are also interested in experiencing the city’s casino life. In contrast to the brashness of places like Las Vegas and Macau, there are a number of more exclusive and prestigious establishments with world-renowned names.
So if you are looking for a casino to visit that will show you the very best of London’s gambling life, here are seven sublime examples.
First, let’s travel to Palace Gate in South Kensington to Maxim’s. Housed in a grand 1862 home which was once described as a house “built for a gentleman by a gentleman”, its original owner was the eminent Victorian John Foster. Today, the playing areas are across two floors of the mansion house with the main gaming room in what was once the drawing room. The high-ceilinged room maintains many of the original features including a magnificent marble fireplace. The glass-roofed library is also a very atmospheric place to enjoy a game of blackjack or baccarat.
Anyone with any knowledge of the city’s casino past will already be familiar with the name. John Aspinall was the legendary figure who opened his casino in the 1950s and also used it to help finance his private zoo. During the 60s and 70s it was a fashionable place to be seen and had many famous members, including characters like Sir James Goldsmith, the Sultan of Brunei, and the notorious Lord Lucan. Today it maintains its discreet charm and, to the casual passer-by, could just be another Mayfair townhouse. But step inside and you’ll be able to play all the traditional casino favourites, including roulette, blackjack, and craps.
If the interior of Les Ambassadeurs looks familiar, it may be because it featured in the Sean Connery-era Bond film, Dr No. But before it hit the big screen, the building had an equally distinguished history, having once been a Mayfair base for the fabulously wealthy Rothschild family. That was back in the 19th century but now it’s very much a 21st-century casino that attracts a high-profile clientele that includes leading business people, footballers and stars of stage and screen. To prepare yourself to take on the casino, it could be a good idea to get in some practice somewhere like the Virgin Games live casino. This will get you into the groove of playing against live dealers, even if the action’s just being streamed to your PC or mobile device.
The Hippodrome has been a major landmark around Leicester Square for over a century and has been many things in its time, including a music hall, a theatre, and a nightclub. Today, it’s a casino that also puts on regular entertainment, including performances by some very big names indeed. For those who go for gambling, there are all the games on offer that they could possibly want to play. The gaming rooms are set over three floors, with the main area being in the grand casino on the ground floor. It’s here that you’ll find the roulette tables and a really buzzing atmosphere.
Arguably, London’s oldest casino, Crockford’s was established in 1828 by one William Crockford. Its first home was in St James’ but now it has moved to Curzon Street. From the very early days, it attracted a distinguished clientele – the Duke of Wellington is reputed to have been a regular. Today it remains fairly exclusive, offering private gaming suites where champagne, lobster, and caviar are always on the menu. In the public areas, magnificent chandeliers light the rooms, and the great and the good are still very much in attendance, playing all the most popular casino games in very exclusive surroundings.
The Empire is perhaps the closest that a London casino gets to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The huge former nightclub covers a total of 55,000 square feet and boasts over 50 table games and nearly 130 slots. It’s very popular with tourists attracted both by the gaming and its numerous restaurants and bars. For extra special treatment, head for the VIP Dragon Lounge where it feels more like you’re in an exclusive international casino where superb service is the order of the day.
Finally, here’s a venue that is very much one of the new generation of London casinos. The Barracuda is in Baker Street and is as edgy as the name suggests. So the dress code, and the vibe, is distinctly casual and you can enjoy games like three-card poker roulette, blackjack, baccarat, electronic roulette and any number of slots. It’s all backed up by the latest casino technology and there’s even an award-winning restaurant to enjoy.
So why not get out and about to start discovering some of London’s very best casinos? After all, there are plenty of them to explore.