M by Montcalm 

This is a bit of a new area for me. I’m not really one to stay in hotels in the Capital at the weekend. Nor am I to indulge in spas and free macaroons. However, on Friday night this all changed! I am no longer a sceptic and a cynic about staying in posh hotels and using their spa facilities. I’m now very much a fan!

Friday. End of a busy, first full week at work since starting the new job. It was the boyfriend’s birthday. He was turning the big 2 8 (does kind of have a good ring to it!) And it was our first year together celebrating his birthday, so of course I had to go all out. I had to make it one to remember. And what better way than to stay at his favourite architectural building in none other than Shoreditch. He’s a civil engineer so he has this fascination with buildings so who am I to deny him the right to enjoy his birthday eve in a beautiful hotel room?

Check-in is normally around 2pm but after a busy day and a drink after work, I met the boyfriend, after he followed my lovingly thought out clues ūüėČ outside M at quarter to six. There he was. Stood so proudly and excited outside this contemporary modern architecture. His great big grin said it all. He was chuffed to say the least.

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M by Montcalm, Shoreditch

He grabbed my hand and after a quick embrace and kiss we strolled, or should I say skipped with excitement into the reception. To our right was a selection of bars and stools and an array of colourful armchairs. The variety and choice of all the various spirits was a beautiful sight to see. A shame that we were far too busy to experience this bar. Can always use this as an excuse to go back though, right?

We were swiftly met by a Bell Boy who politely insisted on taking our luggage whilst we queued to check-in. Whilst waiting, I clocked several touch screens placed within the mahogany coffee tables. The reception was the epitomy of elegant, modern and tasteful. The desk was black marble whilst the floor was shiny clean white. The most extravagant light in the shape of multiple 8’s entwined together sat delicately above. I could not quite believe that I was checking in. That I was allowed to stay and experience this masterpiece.

We were soon called over and up we trotted to the desk. I gave them my name but not before I was engulfed with an apology for the delay and a gratitude for waiting so patiently. ¬†I was taken aback. We had barely waited a couple of minutes and I was far too in awe of the building to ever consider that I’d been kept waiting for a long period of time. I handed over my card. The amount was taken. The keycard ¬†was given and we were officially one night residents!

The Bell Boy swiftly hopped to our side with our luggage, enquires after our room number and led us up to the nth floor in the mirrorless, black marbled lift. The doors binged open, we were greeted by the monochrome effect that was placed throughout the hotel. We walked through the doors and just to our right was our room. It had an electronic door bell, an electronic sign for room cleaning and even a digital do not disturb sign (We later found out this was all controlled via the iPads built into the wall in the room). So long to the days of the chewed up paper signs that were once hung upon the handle to ward off any disturbance.

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The room. How do words do justice for this space? They simply don’t. The amount of technology placed throughout was extortionate. As one who isn’t keen on modern technology and has a track record of breaking several devices over the years, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the smart use of modern gadgets in the room. There were no light switches. Everything was controlled through an iPad placed next to the bathroom and one on either side of the bed on the bedside tables. You could turn the bathroom light on from your bed. You could change the colours of the mood lighting from blue to green to fuchsia! Turn the desk light on. Control the TV and Media Hub. Click on the AC and choose the speed of the fan and temperature. Gone are the days of the old fashioned thermostat awkwardly placed on the wall that no one was quite sure how to work. It wasn’t even necessary to get in and out of bed to open the curtains. This, again was all simply done at the touch of a button on the newly made buddy, the iPad.

As well 20170428_180653_editedas iPads, a TV almost the length of me was sat cleanly on the wall with a vast amount of channels to select from. The only niggle, is, my boyfriend claimed he couldn’t find a guide so had to individually select a channel to find out what was on (this was of very little nuisance to me. Just a male thing I think!)

The smell of the room was pomegranate which I selected at no extra cost when booking the room. I also could choose the pillows that our weary heads would rest upon that night. I opted for the hypo allergenic but the choice was numerous and quite a tough one to make. They accommodated to my request of that it was my boyfriend’s birthday. They originally offered complimentary pies and fruits. But both me and my boyfriend being gluten free, I politely declined the pies and said the fruit would be plenty. For M, the fruit would not be plenty. Instead they suggested and gave us macaroons (gluten free) with the fruit and a very cute balloon with Happy Birthday on in the corner of the room. It was very kind and generous of M to do this all complimentary. And the macaroons, well all I can say is, France watch out. M by Montcalm do the best macaroons on this planet ūüėć

After popping out to a Jimmy Carr stand up we were back to paradise. It was time to test out the shower. There was plenty of room for two (not that we tried) and the head distributed the water evenly and powerfully, (so there was no fighting over who would be under the water ūüėČ).

In dire need of a cup of Rosie Lee, the kettle popped into action. This is where my one and only complaint makes an appearance. There was a variety of teas, ranging from peppermint to chamomile to English breakfast. Fantastic choice. However there were only two English Breakfast teas. Now this may not seem an issue to some but it posed a problem the next morning. After both of us enjoying the cuppa the night before we were stuck with nothing the next morning (I lie, I was okay as there was a very fancy Nespresso machine and four varieties of coffee pods brewed for your pleasure. This suited me very well the next morning, the boyfriend, not so much as he has a strong dislike for coffee). We did call housekeeping and were informed that it would be up straight away. We were on the top floor so we estimated 5 minutes to allow it to arrive. We each had our showers. I did my coffee. Dried my hair and still nothing. By this point there was no  point calling and requesting again as check out was fast approaching. So we left on a bit of a low.

I’ve jumped ahead of myself but that’s what a lack of tea does to order. Back to waking up the morning after the night before.

The next morning, at half 8 (more like 9) we donned on our bathing suits accompanied with the fluffy white dressing gowns left with the M emblem neatly sewn. We shyly made our way to the lifts, after all this was the first time we had experienced a hotel this fancy and going to the spa. We weren’t quite sure if this was the correct protocol (later turns out it was, although we forgot the slippers).

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We timidly walked up to the reception in the spa and despite the receptionist being on the phone, we were kindly told the direction to relaxation. We popped our heads in the changing rooms and what cleanliness and space. We bagsied a chair with our dressing gowns and warily climbed the stairs into the pool. Initially it felt cold but after a dunk it was pleasant. There was a giant tap at the end. A goddess on the wall and even cucumber and orange infused water in the fridges.

The steam too ¬†was perfect. I’m not a fan of steam especially for long periods of time but this was like no other. We stayed the maximum time before shuffling over to the sauna. 90¬įc heat greeted us as the door opened. Being typically British, the boyfriend and I lasted under 10 minutes. We showered under giant shower heads in a private cubicle before finally having a soak in the jacuzzi. Even with two other couples it was pleasantly comfortable. Just the right amount of bubbles and heat ūüĎĆ

A quick chill on the chair with our infused waters and eyeing up the chillax room we decided we were running out of time before check out so headed up.

Showers had. Hair dried courtesy of the Babyliss hair dryer in the room. Make up on. Coffee stewed. I was ready for departure onto the next adventure. The boyfriend? Struggling to function without his side of tea that morning!

We checked out and as usual we were asked how our stay was. I couldn’t help but express my admiration for the place and the enjoyment, luxury and relaxation it brought but I had to also point out the mix up with the tea bags. I didn’t expect a place of this standard to be so stingy on this front. The receptionist? He couldn’t have been more concerned and apologetic. He offered to get us a drink at the bar Tonic and Remedy. Unfortunately we had to decline as our next destination and a spot for breakfast was calling us. I thanked him greatly and as hard as it was to decline a free bevvy, I felt that M had done all they could to rectify the problem. Yes, we never got the tea but a kind gesture was offered and I couldn’t ask for fairer than that.

It was sad to wave goodbye to this beautifully modern, technology based heaven behind. The luxury. The indulgence. It was everything I thought I would never want but after this memorable experience I will definitely try to treat myself to these experiences at least twice a year!

So how much did all this cost me?

I booked The M by Montcalm as a surprise. I booked it two weeks in advance and for 10% off their original price as part of their book early saver. I had looked at several hotels in the London area as I was convinced that the M would be way out of my bounds. I was wrong. Most hotels, even a bog standard Premier Inn cost around ¬£115 a night and that’s not even in central London. M, the beautiful M cost me a mere ¬£126. This might seem expensive to some but not to me. Not for near central London. In a beautiful building. Big rooms. The use of the spa facilities and just the general friendliness and accommodation of the staff. Yes, breakfast wasn’t included but most hotels these days don’t have all inclusive breakfast. But from what I saw a glimpse of on the way down to the spa, there was a vast variety for breakfast with picturesque views over looking the city.

Overall, M by Montcalm has set the bar high for any future city stays that come my way. I’ve been spoilt and greedily expect such luxury on a regular basis!

My rating: 4.5* out of 5.

*the tea bags really were the factor for the missing .5

Jack Whitehall: At Large

Another night, another stand up comedy! Shows are like buses, you wait for ages to see a stand up comedian and then two come at once in the same week. This isn’t what each week of mine is like. I wished.

Me and my partner in crime, F, were off to another night of laughs at our favourite venue the O2 arena in Greenwich. I love this venue for so many reasons. Most importantly it is so simple to get to from home and isn’t too long a journey. But also the whole venue is just amazing. I love the hustle and bustle and the buzzing atmosphere from everyone there. It has everything you want in one venue. Restaurants, bars and even a little newsagent as well as the 20,000 seated arena. I have only ever seen bands perform at the O2 so it was exciting to be able to see something a little bit different, especially in such a huge venue. How would a stand up work to such a large capacity? Would the atmosphere still be there? Would you still feel a part of the act like you would with a musician in that sized venue?

I needn’t have worried. A stand up worked just as well!

Friday night, the start of the coming weekend and the night Jack Whitehall was performing at The O2 in North Greenwich. ¬†Our seats weren’t too shabby and we had a good view of the stage and the screens.

The support act started just after 8 and it was none other than Joe Lycett. It is funny because only recently have I become aware of him as a comedian and seen him perform on 8 out of 10 cats does countdown and Live at the Apollo. I also follow him on twitter and as a follower you are always guaranteed a good laugh and joke on your timeline from him. His main act always consists of some emails he has sent to someone he knows regarding an issue he has and this night it was no different. Unfortunately it was the same joke that he had used on¬†Live at the Apollo,¬†but it was still just as funny hearing him say it again as it was the first time. Let’s just say emails went backwards and forwards about a made up fox called¬†Sally Peterson¬†and her wanted poster being put in a snap frame at Lycett’s office. Overall Lycett gave a very good 15 minute performance and was a good warm up for the night ahead.

You heard Whitehall before you saw him, which isn’t a surprise! He opened his set with a video consisting of all things every Jack Whitehall fan would expect of him: Freddie Flintoff (League of their own), his father (Backchat with Jack Whitehall and his Father) and the cast from Bad Education. He also had fellow comedian David Walliams. The end of the video saw him jump on a horse and riding off into the sunset. Next thing there’s Jack on stage on a great big grey horse! It’s not everyday a comedian makes that kind of entrance.

He jumped off and the horse was led off stage. Whitehall began his set but within a minute he stopped and our attention was brought to the massive pile of poo left on stage by the horse. Jack played it so well. If I hadn’t read before I would have easily believed that that wasn’t meant to happen and wasn’t a part of the act. Everyone was creasing up at his reaction, and even more so when he had to get on his hands and knees and shovel it in a bag.
The first half was side splitting funny. It just seemed that nothing was going to plan for Jack. Whether this was part of the act or not, it did the job. I don’t think there was a straight face in the house. His reference to Waitrose, Asda, name dropping and his experience with the Royal Family all seemed to never go his way and before the end of this section he ended up crawling in left over horse muck. He knew how to keep the audience going and he did it so well.

The second half, I thought couldn’t get any more bizarre than the first. I was wrong. Oh so wrong. If you thought Jack’s entrance was brilliant, it was nothing compared to the end where he was dressed in an inflatable troll costume trying to knock¬†Elsa¬†from¬†Frozen¬†out of the way as she sung on stage. This was all in reference to his role, which soon became a non speaking role in the movie Frozen. As he pointed out, he is the penultimate name on the cast list and had his voice over removed as Elsa began to sing Let it go. The cries of laughter from the crowd filled the arena.
The second half seemed a lot more quick paced than the first and more staged but it didn’t disappoint.

You found yourself at times wondering if it was okay to laugh at what he was saying. But that’s Whitehall humour and we as an audience were all in the same boat. No one was there to judge at what you laughed at, instead you came together as an audience and silently chuckled at the parts that you thought weren’t always appropriate to laugh out loud to.

Jack Whitehall lived up to everything and more and I am as much a fan as I was before I saw him live. He interacted well with us as an audience, got us involved and made local references. His humour is at times inappropriate but that’s what makes him unique. He is a man child who says all the wrong things at the wrong time but you can’t help but laugh at him. It’s a strong 9 out of 10 for me, maybe even encroaching on a 10.

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Sue Perkins: Spectacles ūüĎď

So something a little bit different for me and F this week. (I promise we don’t normally go out this much, it just always seems to be the way that things all happen to fall around the same time! I promise me and F do just sit at home and watch movies most nights when we’re together.)

We went to a comedy! Not just any comedy stand up, but the spectacular (hahaha see what I did there, Spectacular, a cheeky twist on the title and the name of the stand up. No? Just me?)¬†Sue Perkins¬†and her¬†Spectacles¬†tour. The venue was more local and didn’t involve hopping from train to tube to get into the big city. This simply was a car journey of not too long a period.

I have been to this venue only once before to see Jamie T. For that we were on the penultimate row on the balcony so not even remotely close to the stage. However, this time I got tickets to sit in the stalls. Five rows back to be precise ūüėČ. The stage was within touching distance. I would be able to see the facial features of Sue¬†on stage instead of just a blur! How exciting!

I have previously gone to amateur stand up nights in London at the Top Secret Comedy Club  and thoroughly enjoyed my nights there, so I was looking forward to seeing a name I actually had heard of and already knew I would be in for a night of laughs.

For those of you who don’t know Sue Perkins, I suppose she became most famous or well known to me on this programme called¬†The Great British Bake Off. She was part of a duo of her and Mel and they were belly-aching funny together and as much as I loved the baking, the programme wouldn’t have worked without them two. Sue has also branched off on her own and done a variety of appearances on quiz shows including¬†QI¬†and¬†Have I got news for you. Sue has also presented her own shows including a documentary on her travelling up The Mekong River and most recently hosting¬†Insert Name Here.¬†

The one thing I really like about Sue Perkins above other comedians is that she doesn’t swear, nor does she belittle others to such an extent to make herself funny like other comedians. She doesn’t use her sexuality or gender to get laughs. She is just a generally, an honest originally funny person and I really admire that.

Like most things Me and F go to we always try and have a meal out together first and then we go to the venue, get a drink at the bar, get our seats and have a bit of time before the actual shows start. But not last night however. The opposite happened.
Normally on tickets the time they state is when the doors open and that is generally half an hour before the show starts so it gives people time to get there, get drinks and settle into their seats. So me and F casually turned up at about twenty to eight (tickets started half seven) and the lobby was empty. There was no one about. There were a couple of ushers who came up to us. We showed them our tickets and this young gentlemen said he would lead us to our seats. Me and F were both a little taken back as we didn’t have the chance to get a drink and had no idea where everyone was. The second we entered the entrance to the hall it dawned on us. We heard the faint rumble of laughter and to our horror Sue Perkins had started!
The embarrassment. All I can say is I safely covered my face as the usher led us from the side door and in front of a row a seats then through an aisle past at least ten more rows before we finally reached our seats. At this moment in time I wasn’t that pleased that we had seats in the 5th row from the front and slap bang in the middle. It just drew even more attention to us. Thank goodness it was Sue Perkins. I can only imagine that any other comedian like Jimmy Carr or Lee Evans would have definitely picked on us!

After hastily taking our coats off, squeezing past the five or six people in our row to get to our seats we were finally sat down and ready for a night of Sue.

The first of half (of which we missed a good 5 or 10 minutes!) was based around her book¬†Spectacles – a memoir. As well as a projector showing photos of her family including, her mum and dad’s wedding, her as a baby and various photos of her throughout her childhood. She also read extracts from her book. I loved this. I confess I haven’t got round to reading her book yet but when I do it will be great to imagine how certain parts are meant to be read after hearing her reading it. Sue did a lot of off the cuff talking and engaged with the audience very well. All around people were screeching with laughter and clapping at Sue.

The interval came and went. A quick chance to pop to the loo, buy a drink and some sweets and then run back to our sweets in plenty of time of the second half starting. Now I wasn’t sure what to expect from the second half, maybe more extracts and photos. Instead Sue opened it up to the floor and it was Q&A time. Now this isn’t to everyone’s cup of tea but I loved this. Sue handled it so well and it was great to see her go into so much detail over each question she was asked. Sue also did a great job at responding to such spontaneity.

The first question, I can’t say I was surprised, but the first question, or should I say proposition was if Sue would go for a drink with an audience member after the show. Sue was hilarious. She wasn’t rude, impertinent or disrespectful towards the audience member instead she turned it round into a good 10 minutes of stand up comedy which wound up about Tinder and involving another audience member.
The questions kept coming and Sue didn’t falter once. The detail, the animation, the passion she had with each question was heartfelt and honest. As an audience member I learnt about a programme she was in many years ago called¬†Supersizers¬†and even got told about a new documentary that she was embarking on. It felt really personal and open of Sue and there was a strong connection between us the audience and her,Sue Perkins.

Not only did we learn a lot about Sue’s family and what has effectively made her, her, Sue also learnt about us the audience. By the end it transpired that as an area we weren’t fond of Brighton (seafront rivals!), we applaud self reflection as if we were at a village cricket game and a player went out after scoring just a four despite playing her best, and we absolutely love vegetarianism (although the majority weren’t actually vegetarian!)!

The second half went by in a flash and before Sue knew it, her manager was on the side telling her time was up but not before Sue showed off her guitar and singing skills. Sue admitted she could only play three chords and had only learnt it for us and that we were to sing along with her because she is quite phobic about singing in public. We as an audience readily accepted the request and with Sue strumming the strings and the words on the projector we were off! The song? Well it was Bad Moon Rising¬†by¬†Creedence Clearwater Revival.¬†F admitted afterwards that he had only heard the name of the band through the Lily Allen¬†song¬†Him!¬†The song¬†¬†wasn’t exactly the most joyous as these lyrics show:

I hope you got your things together
I hope you are quit prepared to die
Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Once we reached this part Sue stopped playing and sang her own version in which we had to turn to our left and say I love you (bit awkward as it was a complete and utter stranger to my left but at least F said it to me) and then to say I love you to the right (Thank got it was F!). Sue even managed to make a joke about the whole Brexit situation and despite how each person voted, whether remain or stay we still love one another. What an end. We were all grinning like cheshire cats from ear to ear, humming the beat of Bad Moon Rising as Sue humbly bowed twice in front of us before the lights came back on. 

It truly was a Spectacle, Sue, thank you! 

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