THE HOLE IN THE WALL
Location: Opposite Waterloo Station, London.
Update: The game is now a Williams Medieval Madness, replacing the Star Wars - Episode One shown in this review.
The name is appropriate - The Hole In The Wall looks exactly that from outside - but once you step through the door there are two bars - the one at the back plays host to a William's Star Wars Episode One.
The bar itself serves an extensive range of beers and lagers. Real ales include Marston's Pedigree, Everards' Tiger and Brakespear Bitter. A total of 10 hand drawn beers along with Kronenburg, Heineken, Carlsberg, Carling, Stella, Grolsch plus two ciders and two stouts (Guinness and Murphys).
Prices are typical mid-London at about £2.30 a pint.
The atmosphere is friendly, even during the busy 5:30pm rush. With The Hole In The Wall being right next to Waterloo Station it is ripe of commuters looking for a pint or two before facing the train journey home.
There is some ambient music, but it is kept at an unobtrusive level and doesn't mar enjoyment of either your game or your pint.
I said the pub is close to Waterloo Station but that's a bit of an understatement. The atmosphere of the pub is 'enhanced' whenever a train rolls overhead. It's like a mini-earthquake. If you remember that scene from The Blues Brothers....? Well, enough said. Amazingly enough, everything stays on the shelves and tables and after a while you start to tune out the noise and vibrations, but the first few times it happens it is most disconcerting.
So what of the pinball?
I'm pleased to report that everything in the Star Wars Episode One game was fully working, though it's clear that a lot of skilful players play this game from the high scores and watching some of the other players while I was waiting for a game.
The pricing is set quite high at 2 games for £1, especially given the difficulty of getting a replay on the Pinball 2000 platform.
The clientele are very friendly and it wasn't long before I struck up a conversation and found a playing partner. The landlord is well informed about pinball and was bemoaning the lack of new games, aware that William's had ceased production. I imagine it would take a strong game from Stern to convert these Williams' die-hards.
Games at The Hole In The Wall tend to stay for quite some time and really earn their keep. There is a regular gathering of pinball players on a Thursday evening so you may want to either join or avoid them depending on your taste. Due to the popularity of the machine it is sometimes difficult to get a game without a significant wait.
To summarise, The Hole In The Wall is thoroughly recommended as both a really good pub and an enthusiastic place to play pinball. Fans of real ales will find much to enjoy while everyone should be able to order their favourite tipple.
© Pinball News 2002