Five Things To Do At The Hippodrome (Other Than Gamble…)
Our own background with casinos is mixed, with the innate glamour of Rat Pack-era Vegas contradicted by our actual experiences of less salubrious establishments in the concrete locales of Southend-on-Sea and Birmingham. Were it all a bit more Casino Royale we’d probably have gambled away our money long ago.
The Hippodrome stands right on the corner of Leicester Square. Being a part of town we generally avoid, coupled with our lack of gambling prowess, heading across to sample an evening there would not generally be our choice night out, yet head along we did to sample what this grand old building had to offer. Upon finding out that a third of their customers didn’t ever place a bet, things were looking good. But just why else should you go?
1) To have a drink
With a number of bars at every level, there’s a choice of where to imbibe. The first floor ‘Penny Bar’ was a grand choice for a drink. Beer choice is limited to big brewery owned brands at this point, and no real ale, but the spirits and wine selection was reasonable, and the covered rooftop smoking area a storey up helped keep the party together. If you’re thinking of Leicester Square Stag/Hen Do clichés, The Hippodrome operates a pretty well considered policy on what state you can order a drink in. So best behaviour!
2) To Gorge on The Food
USDA Prime Steak and Lobster Tail was perfectly experienced overlooking the main casino floor. There was something entertaining about not being involved in the gambling, yet still vicariously getting something out of that buzz. From a voyeuristic mezzanine, sample meatballs served in a wonderful (and nutritious) bone marrow sauce, but the highlight is the steak – the knife literally glides right through. Just remember that it’s accompanied by a Lobster Tail, not loaded potato skins – as one member of our party discovered disappointedly.
3) To Lap up The Entertainment
As an evening entertainment venue, it’s still pleasantly surprising to discover the theatre tucked away behind what once was the mainstage – Charlie Chaplin, Houdini, The Jackson 5 have all performed here it transpires. In such esteemed company, we watched top comedians who were ably assisted by diligent waiting staff. This was the closest to the Rat Pack we got – although also reminded us a bit of Goodfellas. Not settling with only comedy shows, catch Burlesque and music events there too. See who you stumble across…
4) To take Advantage of the Opening Hours
OK, a lit off piste, but we’d be remiss to not mention the fact that The Hippodrome keeps turning 24 hours a day. Whilst it may include an imposing Mayfair-esque entrance, it is really very well priced for such good quality – particularly in comparison to some of its less well fitted neighbours, and the three reasons above alone make it so simple to just drop in and out of.
5) Ahem, To Gamble?
Yes so we know we promised no gambling. But go on, just a tenner…