Ping pong is an excellent and easy game to play with friends or bond over with strangers. Many bars around the world have long had a (more often than not sticky and slightly broken) ping pong table tucked away in a dark corner of the room. Nowadays, however, more and more are putting both the table and the game at center stage.
The concept of a ping pong bar is very simple: there are ping pong tables and balls and rackets, and there are drinks. You indulge in both at the same time. Who knows, after your third beer your skills at the game might surprise you – either because they have actually improved, or because your perception of them has.
If this intrigues you, or you were already looking for a fresh and fun idea for a night out, grab some friends (or practice your biggest smile and go alone to meet some strangers) and head to one of these ping pong bars scattered around North America and Europe. Many of them have been visited and recommended by our team of local Spotters around the world, and all are worth a visit.
Covid-19 note: while we did our best to find as many open locations as possible, not all of them are. We decided the good ones were worth mentioning anyway. The ones that are open are being careful and ensuring that health regulations are met so that everyone stays safe. If one that you want to visit hasn’t opened yet, add it to your bucket list and keep an eye on their website for changes – as we all know, these days things are changing every hour of every day, and you might get lucky sooner than you expected.
Founded in 2009 by a pair of ping pong and party-loving friends, SPIN has become a popular chain of table tennis venues. From their first location in New York City, they have since spread to many other cities in North America.
The name of the game is ping pong, but the spirit centers around community and mixing a wide range of people together in a fun and relaxed way – of course assisted by a generous flow of alcohol. They call ping pong “a game that transcends age, gender and boundaries”, which sums up why places like these draw so many people in, from beginners to advanced players, from all walks of life.
Locations: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle and Austin
Bounce has two different locations in London, one of which is located on the spot where the game of Ping Pong was first invented. Yes, that’s right – “The Home of Ping Pong” has an unbeatable legacy when it comes to the game and is thus an unmissable spot for ping pong fans visiting London.
While the site was chosen for its history, the modern bar that sits there definitely deserves its own credit. It was one of the places that really cemented the concept of the ping pong bar, “taking the humble Ping Pong table from the back corner of a bar to the forefront of the venue”. You’ll definitely have fun when visiting this spot – and with the cocktails, wine and craft beer plus tasty snacks and pizza they offer, those good times will continue even when you’re not playing.
Housed in what was previously a working garage (and a hairdressing salon!), this large space is now home to around 10 ping pong tables spread over two levels. Gossima also has a decent bar which serves snacks and reasonably-priced cocktails, and comfortable zones in which to relax while waiting for a table.
On weekend evenings, the bar becomes almost a ping pong disco, with live DJs spinning discs while you work on spinning the ball.
Mladost Table Tennis Bar, Belgrade
Playing at Club Mladost provides a different experience from the likes of the trendy, up-scale ping pong bars mentioned above. This place is as real as it gets and so old that it didn’t need an expensive interior designer to make it now-so-fashionably-retro. It has been producing real-world ping pong champions since the 50s.
In fact, it is run by the youngest offspring of the famous Serbian table tennis family Karakasevic, so not only can one practice on the very same tables as some of the real-life champions did, but Kiza himself is there to show you some hints and tricks.
Game On Fenway, Boston
If you plan to visit historic Fenway Park in Boston for a baseball game, the Game On! sports bar at the park is a great place to head before or afterward for something to eat and to hang out. While waiting for a pizza or a beer, you can also get hyped for the game at one of their six ping pong suites, or with a few other fun activities like corn hole and batting cages.
The Academy, Sofia
Like Game On! above, The Academy is a large sports bar whose events and facilities center around the enjoyment and camaraderie of sport. In fact, it’s the largest sports bar in Bulgaria, but despite this size and title it remains fairly little-visited and thus doesn’t get overcrowded. If you are a sports and game fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this location with its huge screens and comfy couches for watching games.
Even if you are not a sports fan, you can come and enjoy – you guessed it – their numerous ping pong tables and some beer. On top of these, they also have pool tables, darts, Fussball tables, cards… pretty much every game you can find at any self-respecting bar.
A former squat that became a legalized cultural association, OT301 hosts an array of events like live concerts, cinema, clubbing nights, workshops, exhibitions – you name it. They’re also known for hosting legendary ping pong nights on Tuesday evenings.
Imagine thirty people moving around a ping pong table, beer in hand, taking turns striking the ball until someone misses and leaves the circle. Two other tables nearby are reserved for regular matches. The players are a mix of aficionados and amateurs, locals and foreigners, speaking a mix of languages. And all of this happens to the sound of some DJ beats, which can vary between Balkan, tropical rhythms, drum & bass, and the like. It’s a circle of madness, it’s free entrance, and it’s a lot of fun.
Minimal Bar, Berlin
Minimal is an institution in the Berlin bar scene. It’s got the electronic and house DJ music and a dance floor that stays open all night; the fascinating and quirky artwork on the walls; the delicious and decently-priced drinks; the warren of different rooms; the ping pong table, of course; in short, it’s got everything to keep you up drinking, dancing and playing all night in classic Berlin fashion.
Ugglan Boule & Bar, Stockholm
At Ugglan Boule & Bar you’ll find enough games to make the child in every person’s heart rejoice. The concept revolves around creating one space where all kinds of old-school games can be combined with drinks into one fun night out.
Descending through a bit of a dodgy entrance, you’ll find a basement that leads to an underground dungeon space with sandy floors. Alongside ping pong tables they have a lot of other classics such as pinball machines, boule lanes, shuffleboards and pool tables. The (multiple) bars are also pretty well equipped and the drinks are certainly not overpriced.
Dupong has just about everything a perfect bar should have: a large variety of very cheap bottled beers, music that creates a nice vibe but still allows for conversation, a fun mix of people to hang out with, and a ping pong table. A ping pong table where you “rent” the paddle for 30 kr. and get a beer in return when you give it back – very clever.
It’s a great place to play some around-the-table ping pong, have a drink or ten, and meet a new ping pong challenger. On a night out we recommend starting out here early, then heading somewhere else afterward to go dancing. Perhaps with your new ping pong buddy.
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