Dinner and a Show – We Head to London
When it comes to the West End, few shows are as enduringly popular as The Lion King. 17 years on from its opening, Sally Thomson sees why it is still captivating audiences both young and old alike…
I first took my daughter to see The Lion King 17 years ago – the pair of us regularly headed up to London from our home in Bath to take in a show. Lion King, with its cast of stellar singers, magical set design and much loved storyline, was one that lived long in the memory. So I was delighted to be returning to see it again, this time with my grandson in tow – on his first visit to the capital.
We really wanted to make this experience a special one for him, so our home for the trip was the spectacular One Aldwych in Covent Garden, right in the heart of the action. Conveniently, it is right next door to Lyceum Theatre, home of The Lion King.
Our weekend trip started off with a train journey from Bath. For our seven year-old travel-mate, it was the first part of our big adventure. With such a lot to look forward to, we were as excited as he was as we climbed into a black cab to the hotel. The cabbie took us via the sights, past Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and taking in the splendour of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben – he was awestruck. For us not having visited for a number of years, it was wonderful to return to this incredible city and to remember that dinner and a show here is so much more than that.
I always make a beeline for Covent Garden – I love the vibrancy and energy of it, as well as the fact that it is just such a fab place to while away the hours. On arrival at the hotel we were given a warm greeting and shown to a beautiful room. Usually this is the time when I like to enjoy a coffee and get stuck into a book within the resplendent surroundings, but instead I found myself being hurried by the boy to get down to the fabulous swimming pool, which we had to ourselves.
But time was pressing on we needed to get ready for our pre-theatre dinner. We dined in the Indigo restaurant that overlooks the Lobby Bar, which incidentally has been named one of the top five hotel bars in the world by The Sunday Telegraph. The menu is entirely gluten and dairy free – but still remarkably hearty and utterly delicious. Little people are catered too with their own special menu, meaning we could all enjoy dinner together – my grandson feeling very special indeed.
After enjoying our meal we were whisked off to the theatre and welcomed by a member of The Lion King’s team and taken to the exclusive bar to enjoy a glass of prosecco before the start of the performance.
As fans of the original animated film we were very much looking forward to watching the musical that has been enjoying spectacular reviews – within the opening sequence it is clear why this show has enjoyed the success it has. With the surge of ‘Circle Of Life’ reverberating through your chest, the parade of animal creations march on, species by species. Gazelles spring through the air, birds duck and dive and an elephant lumbers through the stalls. It’s a thunderous overload of the senses and truly breathtaking.
The ingenuity of the production is astonishing. Theatre props and styles from all over the world – African masks, Japanese Kabuki costumes, Malaysian shadow puppetry – are pulled together to create something otherwordly. Amongst all the pageantry, the incredible voices of the actors shine through, bringing those classic, well-loved songs to life.
Afterwards we were taken backstage to see how the show was created and shown the special costumes that had been created for each member of the cast. The attention to detail was amazing. A thoroughly fantastic evening enjoyed by all. Back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep before the next day of our adventure.
The following day we went to Twickers where the grandson was playing in a tournament. And yes, he did score a try on the hallowed ground! We also watched our home team Bath thrash Leicester – quite an occasion. After such a busy day, we delighted in returning to our beautiful room to prepare for dinner at Eneko.
Eneko at One Aldwych showcases the renowned cooking of three Michelin starred chef Eneko Atxa, who specialises Basque Cuisine. The food was quite delicious and the service impeccable – our standout plates where Txipirones en su Tinta (squid with wine and squid ink sauce) and seared duck breast – both beautifully balanced and rich.
With wonderful menus, stunning bedrooms, attentive staff and of course the proximity to the West End, One Aldwych is the perfect spot for a break in London, and I for one can’t wait to go back – hopefully I won’t leave it 17 years this time though!
Tel: 020 7300 1000
Prices from £305 per night
To book, click here
THE LION KING
Tickets from London Theatre Direct
Tel: 0845 505 8500