Wicked London theatre breakBy Hilary Scott
June 05, 2009
Follow HILARY SCOTT along the yellow brick road and combine a night in Central London with a trip to the theatre – and some shopping and eating out, of course
I’m not a great fan of musicals. It’s only a few weeks ago since I tackled Mama Mia the film after I realised I must be the only person left on the planet who hadn’t seen it.
I now appear to be the only female on the planet who, although adoring Abba, thought the musical movie was utter twaddle and couldn’t wait for Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and the other one to be run down by a big fat Greek tanker (apologies to all MM fans, of course).
So when I was invited on a London theatre break which included the musical Wicked I have to admit I was looking forward more to the fact our hotel was slap-bang opposite Fortnum & Mason, the doyenne of London food halls.
Call me wicked myself, but I was wrong.
The musical is fantastic – and the location of the hotel, the Cavendish, had a lot more going for it than just being opposite my fave foodie shop.
The Cavendish is the centre of Jermyn Street, just off Regent’s Street, so you have everything from great shopping, super restaurants and cafes, top theatres and, of course, F&M right on your doorstep.
We checked into our room – designed by Noel Pierce, who also designed The Peninsula in Hong Kong, and London’s hip boutique hotel, K West – on the Friday afternoon.
The rooms are cool; chic neutrals contrast with dark wood furniture and crimson velour throws across one end of the beds.
We then took a wander along Jermyn Street, famous for its men’s clothing shops and bespoke shoe and shirt-makers. If you want a striped city shirt or a pair of brogues or even some plus fours this is where to go.
Some of the Jermyn Street traders have been there for centuries. We popped into Floris’ fine fragrances (1730) for a sniff – and then took another sniff at Paxton & Whitfield (late 1800s), the specialist cheese-maker which has everything from Stinking Bishop to gorgeous china to display your cheese on.
We had to jump into a cab to get to the Apollo Victoria but only because we had spent too much time shopping – it’s actually only a 10-minute walk.
The theatre was packed as we knocked back a G&T – and five minutes into the show we realised why. It’s a foot-stomping, rafter-raising tribute to the Wizard of Oz with great acting, singing and dancing.
After a rousing standing ovation for the cast, we wandered slowly back to Jermyn Street, stopping at Quaglino’s, one of Terence Conran’s earliest ventures into restaurants, for supper.
It’s slightly showing its age but the brasserie-style food is reasonably priced considering the upmarket location. We polished off a goat’s cheese tart and salad and a prawn cocktail before a burger each.
If you want fancier fare or a different kind of menu there are a host of places around the area.
A nightcap in the Cavendish’s chic bar and we were done in. Next morning we had a bountiful breakfast before having a quick look round the 15-floor hotel which has some spectacular views across London. Try spotting Big Ben as well as the Eye.
We were reluctant to check out and could really have done with another two or three nights, (despite the fact I worked in the Smoke for well over 15 years). The Cavendish really is one of the best bases.
We headed down the river on a Thames Clipper (cheap at just £3.40 for two of us and just as quick as catching the tube) which gives you a great view of all the riverside apartments and quay-side bijou residences.
We had tickets for the British Music Experience at the O2 arena – a must for music fans.
Just beware of the £5 ticket holder they may try to sell you at the door – told that it gets you “loads” of free downloads when you log on at home, it actually doesn’t. Plus the exhibition bills itself as completely interactive through your “smart” ticket – but they seem to still have to, like a guitar, do some fine tuning to the interactive side of it as our tickets performed pretty dismally.
That aside, it’s a good exhibition which covers music in the UK from the 50s right through to now – it bravely even tries to predict the next big thing.
For us, the next big thing would actually be another weekend at the Cavendish and a theatre trip.
For both MM fans (pretty much the entire world) and one or two of us oddballs who hated it, Wicked was really sweet music to our ears, as was our perfectly placed hotel. In the immortal words of Benny and Bjorn, I’d take a chance on them…
Hilary stayed at The Cavendish, 81 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JF. Weekend room rates start at £158 including breakfast and VAT. Weekday ‘room only’ rates start at £178 excluding VAT. Call 020 7930 2111 or visit thecavendishlondon.com for more information and to book
Contact the hotel for the latest information on London theatre break packages.