Nick Bonfield pays a visit to Swingers in central London – a place where crazy golf collides with cocktails, music and hand-crafted food
Imagine a place where you can drink beer, listen to music, play golf and eat top-notch artisan food… all at the same time. Well, now you don’t have to.
Swingers – situated at the foot of the Gherkin in the City of London – combines all these elements in a vivacious locale that’s fast becoming one of the most talked-about atypical nightspots in the capital.
The centrepiece of the whole operation is two nine-hole mini-golf courses – the Windmill and the Lighthouse – each imaginatively and impressively sculpted given that space is at a premium.
There are jumps, bunkers and loop-the-loops to negotiate, as well as foliage, bridges and doglegs. It’s fun, fast-paced and varied, and made even better by the on-course waitress service that ensures you’re always sufficiently lubricated.
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The courses are a draw in their own right, but the Swingers experience is about so much more. There are five different bars to sample, each serving beers, wine, champagne and a broad selection of creative cocktails. There’s even a Freixenet Winner’s Podium, which sits in front of bespoke artwork that fits in nicely with Swingers’ contemporary yet ‘20s-inspired theme.
The best place to enjoy these drinks before or after your round is in the two-storey, free-standing clubhouse. Designed by architects Michael Morris and Zachary Pulman, it features slatted space-dividing walls and a Tanqueray gin terrace.
The décor is consistent throughout, from the clubhouse to the ‘toilet anteroom’, where the men’s and ladies’ facilities split off from a grand central area housing mirrors, sinks and a sofa.
The main thing you notice when you walk through the doors is a sense of atmosphere – no doubt aided by the location. In fact, you’ll even find people drinking at Swingers who aren’t there to play golf. It feels trendy but not overly so and effervescent without being frantic.
Along with the golf and the bars, the other key component is the food. Pizza Pilgrims – residents when Swingers operated as a pop-up in Shoreditch in 2014 – provides delicious hand-crafted sourdough pizzas, Patty&Bun brings burgers into the equation and Le Bab offers gourmet kebabs from former chefs at Le Gavroche.
Swingers is, quite frankly, a must visit for anyone who’s based in the capital, irrespective of golfing interest or ability. The fact it’s been virtually fully booked since opening at the start of the year is testament to the vision and execution of founders Matt Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds, who have carved out an excellent and burgeoning business.