An exciting new attraction opened up in Aberdeen this weekend much to the excitement of many in the North-east…boutique bowling.
What exactly is boutique bowling? It would seem nobody really knows, but Lane7 have made it a thing and I was lucky enough to go along to one of their preview evenings before the official opening on Friday to find out what it’s all about.
Boutique bowling is an experience all of its own, and a visit to Lane7 is not going to be like your ordinary trip to a family oriented ten pin alley. The experience starts as soon as you walk in the door with atmosphere oozing from every surface.
Lane7 is not just a ten pin bowling alley, it also has a bar, retro arcade, table tennis and pool tables. The Lane7 experience is more than just a game of bowls…it’s effectively the whole night out.
As part of the Lane7 experience it caters very much to the social media generation, with lots of ‘cool photo opportunities’. These include a designated branded bowling shoe selfie space, creative floor and wall decals, neon paint and some light up angel wings (because Lane7 is Bowling Heaven, get it?).
The bar menu itself caters to current trends. There is an array of cocktails, gins, wines, and boozy milkshakes as well as the usual beers, ciders and spirits. Staying on trend, the menu page for designated drivers and those who feel they have consumed enough alcohol already is home to a selection of Fentiman’s fizzy juice, mocktails and milkshakes – none of your standard draught soft drinks and not an Irn Bru in sight, which I’m sure is representative of Lane7 being an English company. Drinks aren’t cheap, but they’re also not particularly expensive for what is on offer – I would say generally the prices for drink are fairly normal.
The way the venue has been laid out, it doesn’t take much for it to be busy – two pool tables and two table tennis tables and a small arcade mean that you don’t need many people to want a shot before you have to wait your turn. There are six lanes (numbered 2-7…where is Lane 1?!) each with their own designated table (and drinks menu, to make it easy for you to enjoy your cocktails and refills while playing the game). The policy is that you can only book one game at a time, which I assume means that if there were people waiting for a game you might not get a second game if you wanted it but again this isn’t exactly clear – only time will tell how this policy pans out for the venue but I’m not foreseeing any major uproar.
The lanes themselves (and corresponding designated tables) are themselves quite compact, and I feel you might struggle to have more than 4 people in your team at a time unlike standard ten pin bowling venues which are designed for teams of 6-8. The balls are cool though, and not just the standard coloured bowling balls found in all the other alleys up and down the country – they have a retro vibe to their design as well.
Normally if something doesn’t have a price on display it is for a reason (that being that it is off-puttingly expensive, and not because it’s free) and this raises red flags for me with Lane7 – while I was very lucky to receive a complementary game and drink as part of the preview session, the price of a game normally is not readily available. I haven’t yet been able to find it on the website or social media platforms and I didn’t notice it when I was on the premises (despite looking) – I’m therefore unable to comment on whether or not the boutique bowling experience is really worth the money.
While there is a lot of hype around Aberdeen’s new boutique bowling alley, I’m interested to see how it stands the test of time. Will it still be as popular once the novelty wears off? Will the floor get sticky? How will it survive and thrive as Aberdeen struggles? How will it adapt to the next wave of socialisation trends? Only time will tell!
Final Thoughts? It’s quite compact (it’s a big enough venue, but there’s a lot crammed in!) and quite noisy (not first date material, and not the place to go for a catch up with friends but this might sort itself out over time), but it’s just a little bit classier and it’s pretty cool. I reckon ten pin bowling is one of those things that everybody enjoys from time to time, and for a fun night out doing something a bit different (and for something to “do for the ‘Gram”, if you’re so inclined), it’s well worth considering a visit.
Bowling Heaven? I’m not 100% convinced (but I also don’t know what exactly constitutes Bowling Heaven so this is probably quite close). Millenial Heaven? Definitely.
It’s great to see something new, and a little bit different, giving it a go in the Granite City, and if you’re in the area I thoroughly recommend checking it out if you get a chance.