“ Film Club and restaurant at Covent Garden Hotel - Address: 10 Monmouth Street / London WC2H 9HB „
Once a month my partner and I plan a secret date night for one another and August was my turn. I'm useless at thinking of exciting new things to do so when a colleague at work suggested the Soho Hotel Film Club which he had visited on his birthday, I decided to look into it. The idea of the film club is that you have a meal at the hotel and then watch a film in their private screening room.
Firmdale Hotels is a group which owns six hotels in London including three in the Soho area which are part of the film club.
The Soho Hotel
The Covent Garden Hotel
The Charlotte Street Hotel
Is it easy to use their website to identify which films are showing at which hotel and on which dates. I knew that Alex wanted to see the film Senna so was excited to see that the Covent Garden Hotel was showing it that month and luckily we were free that Saturday. It was easy to make the booking from the website. http://www.firmdale.com/ I was given the options to call the booking line or send an email. I sent an email straight from their website and I got a response within an hour to confirm my booking and ask what time we would like to come in for dinner and whether we had any dietary requirements.
=== The Covent Garden Hotel Film Club ===
The Saturday night film starts at 8.00 p.m. so the decision is whether to opt for their three-course dinner, two-course dinner plus a glass of wine or their Champagne afternoon tea. With all options priced at £35 per person I thought they all provided good value but where I would love the afternoon tea, pretty cakes and little triangle sandwiches aren't really Alex's thing. I also thought it made more sense to go straight before the film so I opted for an evening meal and to decide on the evening whether or not we wanted the three courses or the free glass of wine.
=== Our experience ===
As we walked up cobbled Monmouth Street towards the hotel we found ourselves surrounded by the beautiful cafes and shops of the Seven Dials area of London. The hotel from the outside looked small but very smart with a couple of tables outside. We walked in the main entrance to the hotel which was very grand without being obnoxious and from there could walk straight into Brasserie Max, the Covent Garden Hotel's restaurant.
= Dinner =
We were shown to our lovely table by the window and were immediately impressed with the restaurant itself. It was quite old fashioned with flower patterned chairs but it was all quite impressive and had a friendly but exclusive feel to it. We were handed the menu and drinks list which contained the most expensive drinks I've possibly ever seen, even in London. Thank goodness a glass of wine was included in the deal as the cheapest on the wine list was £7.50 and the next cheapest was £8.50. We also ordered some still water for the table. Bottled beer started at £5 and cocktails started from £11. My white wine was very nice as I sipped it slowly trying to make it last as long as possible. Alex had the house red which he really enjoyed so much that he was onto his second by the time the starter came!
None of the desserts on the set menu appealed to us so the obvious option was to go for a starter a main course, especially seeing as my handbag was full of Smarties, Haribo and rice crispie Squares ready for the movie! The very nice waiter brought over a selection of breads and oil with balsamic vinegar. We were both starving at this point so wolfed down the bread very quickly! I chose the tomato soup which I can honestly say was the best soup I've ever had. Normally I can't finish a bowl of soup without 5 pieces of bread but I enjoyed this one with a spoon! The waiter did bring over extra bread though which I appreciated! Alex opted for the slowcooked ham terrine served with (the tiniest ever piece of) sour dough bread. He mentioned that it was quite fatty but said it was very tasty and really enjoyed it. We both ordered the lamb shank for main course and it looked like the rest of the restaurant went for the same meal! It was served with cheesy mash and a beautiful mint gravy. Side dishes were £5 extra. We got one dish of green beans to share but other options included fries, sugar snaps, cherry tomatoes and sautéed spinach. The lamb was beautifully cooked and fell off the bone. I was really impressed that it was so tasty when it had obviously been mass produced as there must have 20 people in the restaurant eating it at the same time as us!
I was delighted with the food and service throughout the meal and it wasn't until the bill came that I realised how much we had spent despite the fact that I had been drinking my wine slowly! For the two meals, three extra glasses of wine, a side dish and a bottle of water came to £115! This was considerably more than the £70 I was hoping to pay! I was absolutely horrified to find that the small bottle of still water actually cost £5.75. There was no sign of bottled water on the drinks menu which is always bad news but I have never heard of charging so much for water. They had also added 12.5% service charge which clearly wasn't discretionary because it had already been entered into the chip and pin machine before I had chance to say anything! Still, for this occasion I was happy to pay, especially as the service had been so wonderful.
= The cinema =
Around five minutes before the film was due to start one of the waiters called out that the film was due to start for those who had booked. We made our way downstairs to the screening room with polite ushers directing us the whole way. I popped into the ladies on the way and was hugely impressed with the toilets. Smart, clean and modern with nice lighting and lovely flannels to dry your hands on. I love posh toilets!
There were two screening rooms at the hotel which was interesting as they only show one film at a time. I know they do private screenings so it might be that one is always used for such events. The cinema had a fantastic intimate atmosphere with dark walls and furniture which added to the feel. There were 47 seats in the theatre which were large and comfortable with lots of leg room which made the whole experience more luxurious! It actually felt smaller than it was which made the experience feel more special. The screen was particularly large for the room covering most of the wall ahead of us. I checked on their website and apparently the screen is 4.3 x 1.88 metres which doesn't seem that big, but for the size of the theatre it was a great size. The quality was as good as you would expect in any other cinema.
Despite being so full from the delicious meal I had bought Minstrels and Maltesers to take into the cinema with us! Food and drink were allowed in the cinema whether from in the bar or outside. The one exception was red wine as it stains the furniture and this was a bit of a pain seeing as Alex had just asked for a glass! At £8.50 I didn't want him to drink it too quickly so I asked if they would allow it just this one time (which they did!).
Once in the cinema it wasn't easy to get more drinks as the only bar was back upstairs. There wasn't an interval so the people who did want another drink had to leave, go up to the bar, queue and then make their way back down. It just wasn't worth it - perhaps if the film hadn't been so great! There was a door straight out of the cinema to the toilets which was handy.
The films for the month of August included Senna, Bad Teacher and The Hangover II, none of which are suitable for children so it's clear that the film club is targeted at adults. Upcoming films for September and October include Potiche, Bridesmaids, Larry Crowne, One Day, Harry Potter 7 (part 2) and The Skin I Live In.
In addition to the Saturday Night Film Club, the hotel offers a Sunday afternoon Opera club at 3.30 p.m. every Sunday with screenings of performances from the Royal Opera House. The deal is the same as the film club at £35 for the showing as well as the Champagne afternoon tea or 3 course meal.
=== Where is the Covent Garden Hotel? ===
10 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9HB
T: +44 20 7806 1000
The hotel is located in London's West End near Seven Dials and close to some of the trendy areas such as Soho and Covent Garden. On the cobbled Monmouth Street you could be anywhere; it certainly isn't typical London. It's close to other bars, pubs and restaurants and amongst many of London's theatres making the area very popular, especially in the evenings. The hotel is within walking distance of Leicester Square and Covent Garden underground stations which have good links to the rest of London.
=== Overall ===
We had a fantastic experience at the Covent Garden Film Club and would recommend it for a bit of a different night out. Brasserie Max is a wonderful restaurant by any standards and I'd say that £35 would be a fair price for one of the dinner options even without the film. However, it is an expensive restaurant and it soon mounts up in price so by the time you've factored in a couple of glasses of wine and gratuity you're actually looking at over £60 per person. The film part was great too. The intimate atmosphere made the experience more special as the thing I hate about the cinema is screaming children and popcorn all over the floor! All in all, it was a bit of a luxury but it did put an exciting spin on a trip to the cinema. It comes fully recommended to anyone, especially adults due to the nature of the films they usually show. Go and have a lovely evening, just remember to order tap water!