I’m sure business travelers have this problem all the time: keeping themselves entertained during downtime. I don’t usually have this issue because Mr. P is either with me or the trip is short and jam-packed.
But, last weekend, I had a Saturday night with no plans. It was a holiday weekend so most of my coworkers were busy. And, I’m an introvert so I’m not terribly keen on going out to dinner by myself.
Enter: the Lounge at the Odeon Whiteleys. It’s a luxury movie theater. Going out to dinner, getting drinks, and seeing a movie and not having to make small talk with people I don’t know? Sign me up!
HOW IT WORKS
I bought my ticket online, then printed it at the theater. Full disclosure: it ain’t cheap. My weekend peak price ticket was £25.00, about $36 at today’s exchange rates.
You select a seat when you book. If you’re a couple, they have love seats available. The setup looks like this.
I checked in at the host desk. There’s a waiting area/lobby outside the theaters with a bar. It reminded me of a nightclub with the couches and low lighting — probably what they were going for.
Food and drinks are extra (see here for a drink menu and here for the food menu). Everything goes on your tab, just tell them your seat number. I ordered a prosecco while I was waiting for the theater to open.
Once the theater was open, they carry your drink and escort you to your seat. The server explained how everything worked (since I was a newb).
The seats are huge and comfortable. They have built-in controls.
There’s a tray that swivels to hold your drinks and food.
There’s no set ordering time for food or drinks. Anytime you want something before or during the film, just press the blue button and someone comes to your seat. A lot of people ordered stuff before the movie. I waited until just before the movie started to order dinner.
They bring the bill and charge your credit card before the movie is over.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE
I’ll be honest, this was a splurge and I don’t know if I’d do it again. If I lived here I’d go out to a restaurant and then see the movie. If I was on vacation, I’d never do this because I don’t want to waste precious vacation time on a movie. Being on a business trip was the perfect confluence of factors.
Food and drinks were good. I had the fish and chips, a glass of prosecco before the movie, and a glass of wine during the movie. All were good and generally reasonably priced (I expected the food to be a gouge). I don’t know if I missed something, but I kept seeing people ordering popcorn but it wasn’t on the menu.
Eating dinner does distract. The place is set up so you can see your food but still have that movie theater atmosphere. Still, I found that I was distracted from the movie while trying to eat my dinner. I guess that’s why popcorn is still a thing? Then again, I’m easily distracted.
The seats are nice. This was great. I felt like I could curl up or stretch out like I was at home.
Service was great. The servers were all very attentive. I kind of wonder how this business is sustainable given the amount of people they had (there are 40 seats in the the theater and I think they have 2 or 3 theaters at the venue).
Paying was distracting. Since most people were paying by credit card, the servers were tapping away on the credit card machines (“beep beep beep”), which was a bit noisy and distracted from the film. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning if you are paying for this experience.
Overall, I’m happy I went. Again, I don’t think I’d go again, but this was a great way to pass the time, try something new, and see a movie I really wanted to see (and that wasn’t on Mr. P’s list to see anyway).
I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.