afternoon tea, doubletree by hilton west end

I have been putting off writing this review as I really haven’t wanted to revisit my experience.  If I hadn’t had such great company I would have been absolutely livid that I had wasted half a day’s holiday from work for this.

Yes, I booked with a Groupon voucher, but many of the afternoon teas I have experienced over the past couple of years have been through Groupon, and I haven’t had a bad experience until this one!

First of all, let’s have a look at what I was expecting from Doubletree by Hilton West End.

Groupon offer details from Doubletree by Hilton West End

So, we arrived, and I have to say, the setting is lovely.  The reception is very elegant, and the lounge bar where afternoon tea is served had a contemporary open fire, and was very tastefully decorated in aqua, charcoal, black and silver.  All very nice so far.

It was buzzing and almost every table was occupied.

I wasn’t even asked for my name to confirm my booking, I handed over my voucher and our waitress informed us that she was very sorry as they were extremely busy.  That didn’t sound great, but there seemed to be quite a few staff, so I wasn’t too concerned at this stage.

We were brought our ‘Brut Cuvée’ which was my first surprise.  I honestly thought that Brut Cuvée would be more dry, but this was extremely sweet, almost like a sparkling dessert wine.  I assumed that I must have been wrong (which does happen occasionally) , although it really wasn’t too pleasant.

We then waited at least half an hour for everything else to arrive.  When they brought our tiered stand of goodies, the waitress said “I’ll just bring your tea – English breakfast is OK isn’t it?”…and then rushed off.  being English, we weren’t going to make a fuss, but I thought that this was far from the ‘selection of teas, coffees or herbal infusions’ that we were offered.  And this was the first time I hadn’t been offered a menu or choice!

And this is what we were brought.

The ‘pomp and circumstance’ promised by Hilton


Expected: Freshly cut finger sandwiches, such as smoked salmon or cucumber and cream cheese, make for mouth-watering savoury morsels

Received: Three small fingers of extremely thinly cut cucumber (no cream cheese) and what I assume was flavourless turkey and cranberry.

Sweet treats

Expected: sweet pastries, toasted tea cakes, and fruit cake will sweeten up the selection.

Received: something a bit like a fondant fancy, but nowhere near even as good as Mr Kipling, sickly sweet. A strawberry tart that seemed like it had been frozen – the pastry was soggy, the strawberry was more like sweet jam and there was barely any creme patissiere.  There were also two mini eclairs that were nice enough, but the moisture on the plate had soaked into them and one of them had been on its side so the chcolate had melted off in the damp and onto the tart.


Expected:  a sugary finale of clotted cream and fruit preserves adorning warmed, pillowy scones.

Received: one scone each, which is the stingiest I have ever experienced.  I have to say, the scones were actually very nice. However, there was no jam at alll given to us and we had to ask for it.  this wasn’t a mistake, as the people on the tables each side of us had exactly the same problem.

On top of that, the teapot didn’t even hold enough to completely fill our two teacups, so we had to keep asking for another pot, which was always slow in coming – in fact we asked three times for one.

I have never been so disappointed by an afternoon tea.  It didn’t feel special at all, although the surroundings and atmosphere were lovely.  And this was Hilton – I name I expect to be associated with luxury and a bit of glamour!

I really don’t know what to think about it.  Part of me wants to write to Hilton to complain, but I don’t know what I would expect to get out of it.

All I could do was apologise to my ‘date’ – he expected far better than what he got!

blithe spirit – apollo theatre

Famous people!

Yes, yes, I know.  You don’t need to remind me that it’s less than four months since I last saw Blithe Spirit.

But it IS my second favourite play, and this was different. This was a ‘proper’ West End production, complete with famous people!

Hermione Norris (of Spooks, Cold Feet and more recently, that awful Outcasts fame) was Ruth – and very good she was at it too!  A real commanding performance.  Which was lucky as Robert Bathurst (also of Cold Feet) was ‘indisposed’ on the night that we went, and so Charles was played  by the understudy who was definitely no Rex Harrison.  I can’t remember what his name was, but he was a little too young, nowhere near posh enough and obviously not quite as comfortable with the character – which was a shame as it all really hinges on Charles.

Still, the always entertaining, wonderfully dance-and-musical Ruthie Henshall was mischeviously fun as Elvira.  Although she was grinning so widely through most of the play that I was worried her jaw might stick!

Of course, as is right and proper, Madame Arcati was the star of the show and quirky Alison Steadman certainly made sure this was the case.  She was fabulous darling.  She had the right amount of madness and jolly hockey-sticks!

The set was simple but effective, and the grand finale was very well executed.

All in all, I loved it loved it loved it!  It was the last of my birthday pressies, and my mate who bought the tickets had never seen it before, and had no idea what to expect – but I believe he enjoyed it too.  Fantastic night 🙂

legally blonde, the musical

Pinkly feeling good!

Last Friday night, I got taken to see Legally Blonde The Musical courtesy of my lovely friend as my birthday present.

Now, I’d heard good things about it, so was very excited – always a risk, as then it’s so easy to be disappointed!  So – was I disappointed?


It was fantastic.  It was pink, glittery froth!  It was upbeat, it was funny, it was FUN!  It was entertaining, true to the original film and lyrically clever.  It was a perfect remedy to a rather hectic week of work.

We had missed Sheridan Smith’s run, but Susan McFadden was absolutely fantastic.  We were meant to have Denise Van Outen as Paulette, but didn’t; we were also meant to be treated to Peter Davidson, and didn’t.  but it really didn’t matter – everything is so great that you really don’t need the big names!  Kyle’s comedy timing was especially noteable.

The songs were fun and bouncy – I kept grimacing, waiting for the inevitable ballad, but all the way through the first half, every time it felt lke a ballad was about to come, they changed to another fun song.  So, when it eventually hit halfway through the (short) second half, I didn’t really mind.

“Gay or European” was obviously my favourite – so I’ll finish off with this as a treat for you!  Go and see it – it’ll brighten your day/week/month!

i would NOT do anything!

Oliver! the musical

Now, just to get it straight, I do really like musicals.  And i adore the theatre.  It doesn’t matter how often I go tot he theatre, i love the thrill of excitement before it starts – the sudden hush as the curtan goes up etc etc.  I’m a Londoner, and have access to a wide array of different theatres with so many different types of shows that I could probably go every week and never get bored with it (although I would be VERY skint!)

So, when I asked The Girl what she wanted for ‘home-coming’ (no Christmas for us, remember!) she said that she wanted to go to see Oliver!  My heart sank.  Not just that it would be SO expensive, but because I can’t stand things with too many kids in – and I really can’t stand the film of Oliver!  And there was no way that The Man was going to take her, so it would be just me, listening to some whiny boy screeching at us asking where love is.

Which is exactly what it was.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were koads of things I did like about it.  The sets were fantastic, Griff Rhys Jones was a pretty good Fagin (although I’m pretty gutted that I only missed Omid Djalili by a couple of weeks), Nancy was brilliant, Bill Sikes was brilliantly gruff and manly (apparently the actor was in Press Gang!), the costumes were fantastic, and I did get goosebumps on some of the ensemble bits where the whole cast were singing (I’ve got a real thing about choirs etc)…but generally I wanted to slap all the kids, block my ears to the awful put-on accents and stab Oliver in the eye when his thin reedy voice popped up asking who would buy this wonderful morning.

Argh!!!!  My ears are bleeding!!

Anyway – the main thing was that The Girl loved every minute of it and sang along to the songs that she knew best.

Oh yes, and the only way I could afford it was by going right up in the balcony – oh my GOD that was high up.  That was quite scary really – I’m not very scared of heights, but I did experience a bit of vertigo when we were walking down to our seats.  And really £27 each to be right up there??   I haven’t paid that kind of price for theatre tickets for years and years and I was quite shocked.  I guess I go to more ‘B or C-rate shows’ than the big West End spectaculars – but obviously find them FAR more entertaining, for half the price!

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