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Our boardgames menu

No more squeezing that travel chess into an already full suitcase. We’ve ramped up our boardgame collection in The Living Space snug, as recommended by friends of Watergate Bay including Melissa Hemsley, Mark Kermode, Owen Tozer, Giovanna Fletcher, and Tribe and Us…


Raucous laughter, a flurry of hands, that glint in the eye before they pull a move to end all moves... Taking time out to play a boardgame for some “engaged, explorative social time” – as writer boardgames aficionado Sam Crosby puts it in his Magic of Modern Boardgames blog post – can feel like the best way to unplug and unwind on a lazy holiday afternoon.

Picking from our extensive list could be a head scratcher though. Only got half an hour to spare? Need easy rules to relay to young children? Or are you eager to hunker down for some strategising and hyper-competitive gameplay on a rainy day? 

To help you choose, we’ve created a scoring system that charts length of play, complexity, and the level of focus needed:

The key


L1 = Short - less than 30 mins
L2 = Medium - 30–60 mins
L3 = Long - more than 60 mins


C1 = Simple: One or two rules
C2 = Average: A bit of rules reading
C3 = Complex: Someone will need to orient themselves, watch a video, or have played before


F1 = Casual
F2 = Come and go, we’ll wait for you to take your turn
F3 = Cancel all other plans!

So grab a set, gather around and settle in for the ride…


Survive! Escape from Atlantis

A hilarious (albeit slightly mean) game about getting people off an island before it sinks. Involving sharks, dolphins, sea monsters – and a clock running out. 

L3, C2, F2

Escape From Atlantis Escape From Atlantis

El Dorado

A simple “push your luck” game. Do you dare to go a step further into the temple? The risks are greater, but so are the rewards… 

L1, C2, F2

Explorer Boardgames Explorer Boardgames


(Recommended by Owen Tozer and Giovanna Fletcher)

For family and friends to get together. Like a simpler, speed version of Scrabble. 

L2, C1, F2

Bananagrams (1) Bananagrams (1)


(Recommended by Giovanna Fletcher and Tribe and Us)

A slightly more complex version of Snap, it favours players with quick reactions and shape recognition. 

L1, C2, F2

We’re currently loving Bananagrams and Dobble. I also have a deep love for a game called Balderdash, but that’s more of a game to play with friends.

— Giovanna Fletcher


(Recommended by Giovanna Fletcher and Tribe and Us)

Easy to learn and makes for a long game. Making words from limited letters seems like a simple word game, but it has depth of strategy too. 

L2, C2, F2

Scrabble Scrabble

Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition 

(Recommended by Mark Kermode)

An easily dismissed classic. The updated trivia in card packs give this game a much needed revitalisation. We say it’s for families, but it can deliver the goods for couples and groups of friends just as easily. It’s a modern pub quiz in a box. 

L3, C1, F1


Rhino Hero

Build an unstable, overbalanced tower block one card ‘floor’ at a time. It’s elements of Jenga, with a fun theme about a superhero rhino. Easy to set up and, thankfully, to pack away. 

L1, C1, F1

I started off with Dog Bingo as I love dogs and have a Staffy, but the best one is the Bird Bingo. Everyone loves it – easy to play with small kids and you learn lots too.

— Melissa Hemsley

Animal Bingo – Dog 

(Recommended by Melissa Hemsley)

It’s bingo with images for little ones. Simple, but they love it.

L1, C1, F1

Boardgames Pile Boardgames Pile



Surround your opponent’s queen bee before they can surround yours. This is the perfect portable game, unaffected by spilled drinks or wind on the beach: a set of tactile, chunky tokens are laid out in a hexagonal grid as you play. 

L1, C1, F1

Hive Hive


The oldest game in recorded history. Move tokens between pots in a bid to collect more than you leave behind. Simple to learn, with complexities revealed with every replay. 

L1, C1, F2

Captain’s Mistress 

It’s Connect 4 in a beautiful wooden container. 

L1, C1, F1



Four questions whose answers share a common theme. Answer the four questions in your head, and if you spot the link shout out! This is a ‘level playing field’ of a game: well-devised, competitive trivia – with a cooperative element when no individual can crack the answer. 

L2, C2, F2

Linkee And Perudo Linkee And Perudo

Code Names

The line is crackly. You don’t have much time. Choose one word to try and get the clues to your fellow secret agents. But be careful, if they get it wrong you could give the other team a crucial point or, worse, find the assassin and lose the game on the spot. 

L2, C1, F1

Love letter

Get your letter to the princess without being captured by the guards or told on by the handmaiden. A simple card game with layers of depth. It’s enjoyable from the off, and first-timers have as much chance to win as seasoned players. 

L1, C2, F2


(Recommended by Mark Kermode)

A version of ‘liar’s dice’ that involves bluffing and a process of elimination. It’s a simple, casual and portable game – as good on the beach as at the bar. 

L1, C2, F1

The Living Space Snug Restaurant 0 The Living Space Snug Restaurant 0

To discover the science behind boardgames’ feelgood factor, read Sam’s piece...

The Magic of Board Games


Discover more

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