London has never had a shortage of watering holes, but if you’re the brainy sort, you might appreciate surroundings more stimulating than the standard wine bar. Thankfully, the capital is also amply supplied with drinking spots that deliver a little mental stimulation along with the drinks. Any one of the 10 places presented here is worth a closer look:

1) Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

A pub with impeccable literary credentials, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was – at different times – the preferred hangout for Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, PG Wodehouse, and many more men of letters. Built just after the Great Fire of London, the Cheese’s 17th-century building is in the heart of Fleet Street. While the hacks are long gone, the Cheese remains in its original, unaltered form.

2) The Old School Yard Bar and Playground

A perfect venue for letting your inner child loose, the Old School Yard features a diverse pizza menu, 90s classics playing all the time, and a veritable armada of Bonzini foosball tables. The Yard also features a free retro console to scratch your videogaming itch.

3) Meltdown

London’s first e-gaming pub is the Meltdown in Caledonian Road. It’s a sports bar for the gamer. The menu is packed with videogame-themed cocktails, including the Doom, the Jim Raynor, and the Stimpack. Every night features a different game on the bar’s ‘X’ layout of consoles. Jump in and play or keep tabs on the action on the pub’s big screens.

4) Draughts

As you’d expect from the name, this east London cafe is all about the board games. This one is a personal favourite of ours; we get by at least once a month. Options range from timeless classics like Backgammon to childhood favourites like Hungry Hungry Hippos to the latest novelties, like Cards Against Humanity. Pick out your game, take a seat, and get to playing!

5) Drink, Shop, Do

If you’d like your drinks with a side of arts & crafts, this is the perfect stop for you. At Drink, Shop, Do, there’s always an activity to amuse, distract, and entertain. From colouring workshops to LEGO robot-building, you’ll always find something here to warm a crafty geek’s heart.

6) The Viaduct Tavern

If drinks in a historical setting appeal to you, then the Viaduct Tavern – London’s last Victorian-era gin palace is a must-see. Located immediately adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral, the Viaduct is set in a building that was once a debtors’ jail attached to Newgate Prison. Even now, the pub uses some of the original cells to store its beer.

7) Booking Office

The Booking Office at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is a spectacular little time capsule. Set in the original booking hall of King’s Cross station, the modern Booking Office offers a splendid cocktail menu served over a massive 29-metre-long bar. For morning-after treats, the attached restaurant serves an eminently satisfying breakfast.

8) The Jerusalem Tavern

Originally founded in the 14th century, Farringdon’s Jerusalem Tavern moved to its current premises in 1720. Besides impeccable history, the Jerusalem Tavern offers noteworthy beer. A poll of more than 20,000 locals crowned the Jerusalem as the city’s third-best pub.

9) Loading Bar

Our list simply wouldn’t be complete if we only offered one video game bar, so we also ought to mention the Loading Bar located further to the east in Dalston. The drinks menu is admirably stocked with cleverly-themed cocktails, like Alien: Inebriation and World of Barcraft. The bar’s many consoles are all free to play. This is an especially good bar to visit when major games are being launched; Loading Bar regularly throws specially-themed launch parties for new releases.

10) The V&A Cafe

The V&A is thoroughly familiar to most Londoners, particularly the ones with nerdier interests. A surprising number of locals and visitors overlook the lovely attached cafe. Rather than a posh restaurant, the V&A Cafe is a comfortable, casual tea and coffee room. Live piano music adds to the indulgent ambience. This is the perfect place to relax either before or after visiting the museum.