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

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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Pulp Fiction

Friday night and a new adventure for me and F. As a couple we aren’t the type who always have to be out doing things and spending money, we’re more than content to be sat at home watching a film or whatever sport is on the telly. However, we do like an outing here and there.

A month or so ago I spotted an event on Facebook that I thought would be of interest to F. It was the chance to see Pulp Fiction at The Grand in Clapham. I’m not a film buff. I don’t have the attention span to be able to sit there and watch a film unless I’m in the cinema or I’m sat with someone who is forcing me to watch it. On my own I get up halfway through a film and get distracted by menial tasks such as cleaning my room or organising my books just because I can’t sit still. F is the opposite. He loves a good film and Pulp Fiction is up there as one of his favourites. Being such a great girlfriend (ūüėČ haha) I suggested it to F and booked it up.

The night finally arrived after booking it a month in advance. It was being held at a venue called the Grand. It was established in 1900 and is a grade II listed Victorian building which used to be a music hall back in the day. A venue right up my street. I love a listed building and a bit of history in a place.
For a cinema night, the Grand converts its hall into a 500 seat cinema. And what an incredible place it was! From the outside it looked grand, I can see where it got the name from.

After a quick bag search we walked through to the entrance hall and had our tickets scanned. We were then offered a free shot, not sure what it was but it some sour of some sort. Me and F went upstairs to the balcony ti go and find some seats. It was quite an amazing venue and idea. There were rows of cushions instead of individual seats like a normal cinema. A few rows further down you had tables and stools. I never looked over the balcony so don’t know what the downstairs looked like but I imagined it was similar.

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The seats

After playing musical chairs a good few times, me and F finally settled on the back row. The only, not complaint, but I suppose issue I had was that with those sat on stools a few rows down you often had their heads in the view of the screen and the metal bars didn’t really help matters. But me and F found a superb seat and were rarely hassled with a bobbing head in front of us.

The ciders were bought (completely forgot I wasn’t meant to be drinking because of my sleeping tablets, so safe to say I didn’t have my tablet that night!) and at ten minutes to eight the host came on the stage. He quoted a few lines from the line, and me being a complete noob with Pulp Fiction had no idea what he was on about, but people were cheering and clapping so must have been rather relevant!

I lied about only having one complaint, I do apologise, I don’t normally lie but I forgot that I had another issue with the venue. As great as the atmosphere was I was a bit disappointed that most people seemed to continue talking excessively loud from the minute the film started. I know everyone is there for a good time but I was kind of hoping to be able to hear the film. It would have helped if they put subtitles up because as I later found out, the great thing about Pulp Fiction is the dialogue far more than the picture. There’s a lot of classic one liners in it and unfortunately I missed out on a lot of them. I suppose going to watch it in a place like this wasn’t the best option to watch it for the first time. I, however was lucky enough to have my Pulp Fiction translator, F. He kept me updated on what was being said, what was happening and any other vital parts I might have missed.

An hour and a half later, the film was paused and the interval began. I wasn’t expecting any entertainment for the interval but to my surprise they did their very own Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Competition¬†(similar to that in Pulp Fiction for those who have no idea what I am on about). Me and F had a bit of a twist and boogie which was great fun! ¬†The host chose three couples to go up on stage and dance it out . We, the audience, had to cheer for the couple we thought did the best¬†twist.¬†They were incredible, but one couple really stood out and deservedly won free alcohol!¬†This was great fun and really made the night. The interval went by in a flash and the second half was ready.

The film didn’t end up finishing until ten to eleven but I was so glad we stayed to the end to watch it all. It was such a great film and something so different to what I normally watch. The cast were fantastic and the story line was bizarre but it worked. There were parts where I had my hand over my mouth in fear, in shock and in laughter! It wasn’t until quite a way through the film that I realised that the film jumped backwards and forwards in time. As soon as I realised this the whole film made sense. I really liked how Tarantino did this. I also now know where Direct Line got their idea from for their advert. I never knew Harvey Keitel’s character Winston Wolfe was from Pulp Fiction. But I do now, and I get it a whole lot more.

I feel a bit behind the times. I feel like I have no knowledge when it comes to movies, but I am getting there. I am slowly introducing myself to more films and hopefully I won’t be such a noob about them soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night and I think F did too. Apart from the two little niggles that I had about it, I would definitely recommend it and I would go back. Especially when I paid £3 for these tickets. In all honesty I would have paid more because it is such a unique experience and there was entertainment half way through, a free shot when you walked in and the staff were friendly. Just maybe include subtitles next time so those that do want to watch can follow what is going on. However, I would give it an 8/10 for simply how unique it was and how well put together it was. So if you ever get the chance to see a film there I would recommend at least going once.

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