Classic card games are enjoying a resurgence among the fashion pack (no pun intended), while the hipster fondness for analogue board games has led to them becoming a fixture in every East London bar. To make your game of poker or rummy even more stylish you can now buy the decks of cards used at The Ned (there’s a Soho House set too). Both versions come in a presentation box with bespoke illustrations by the Soho House design team. Alternatively this Christmas why not take inspiration from the Victorians and try something even more old school for your festive entertainment?

The Victorian era was the heyday of ‘parlour games’ – after dinner pursuits enjoyed by everyone from guests staying in a grand country house for a ‘Saturday to Monday’ (the 'weekend' hadn’t been invented yet) to genteel middle class homes. In the pre-box set era, games with endearingly odd names like ‘Are you there, Moriarty?’, ‘The Minister’s Cat’ and ‘Squeak Piggy Squeak’ were the order of the day, helping pass the time on long winter nights. Here are some of our favourites…


From Dickens and Austen to Lionel Blair (anyone remember seminal daytime TV show Give Us A Clue?), charades has been a favourite for over a century because it’s suitable for all ages and doesn’t require any props. Here’s how to play: draw up a list of phrases or words - names of films or television programmes work well - write them on strips of paper and put them in a hat. Divide your players into teams. A member of each team takes a turn acting out a phrase chosen from the hat and their team mates have to guess it.

You can break each word or phrase down into smaller parts and indicate how many words are in a phrase by holding up that number of fingers, and how many syllables in a word by tapping that number of fingers on the forearm. Miming cranking a handle indicates a film, drawing a square in the air denotes a TV programme, while plays can be shown by going down on one knee and flinging out your arms theatrically. To demonstrate a word ‘sounds like’ another, cup your ear, and show short words like ‘in’ or ‘an’ by holding your fingers out and close together. Set a time limit on each player’s turn to make things even more competitive.


One player is designated ‘judge’ and leaves the room. Everyone else places a small personal item such as a piece of jewellery or shoelace in a box. The judge returns, chooses an item and has to guess its owner. If they guess correctly, the owner has to do a forfeit to win it back. This could be something like singing a song, telling a story or joke, doing an imitation, barking like a dog or anything equally embarrassing. If the judge fails to guess who the item belongs to, its owner can reclaim it without having to do a forfeit.

Squeak Piggy Squeak

A popular game in Victorian times, Squeak Piggy Squeak is a variation on Blind Man’s Buff. One player is chosen to be the ‘farmer’ and is blindfolded and seated on a cushion on the floor. The ‘piggies’ (other players) sit in a circle around the farmer who is then spun around two or three times. The farmer then takes the cushion, places it on a piggy/player’s lap, sits on it without touching them and says ‘squeak piggy squeak’. They then have to recognise the piggy is by the sound of their squeaking. If they guess correctly, farmer and piggy swap places. If they get it wrong, they are spun around (while the piggies swap places) and the game begins again.

The Ned

Our hotel and members' club in the City of London has nine restaurants, indoor and rooftop pools, a gym, spa and hamam.