AD | Gifted experience
My Mum has done a lot for us over the years and this year I wanted to do something really special for her close to Christmas. When she comes to visit most of the time is taken up by Erin and we don’t get a lot of time for just us any more. So, along with a hotel stay, I sorted out a visit to the theatre and out for a meal while we were in London. Being such a big fan of experience vouchers I arranged this with a Days Out Together gift box from Red Letter Days.
Buying an experience from Red Letter Days is a great way give a gift without committing to one particular thing. The Days Out Together gift box offers nearly 3000 different experiences and the voucher is valid for 24 months from purchase, so there is no need to rush to decide what to do. As I already had a hotel booked in London I thought I immediately looked in this area for something to do. Me and Mum both love the theatre so I was really pleased to see that there was an option for tickets plus a meal somewhere.
Booking the experience
Redeeming the voucher is really easy once you input the details on the Red Letter Days website. With this particular experience, once I chose what I wanted to do and confirmed this, I wasn’t them able to go back and make any alterations so this is something that should be taken into consideration. For the theatre and meal experience you have to book both aspects separately and the website explains how you can do that.
For the theatre tickets you have to call the booking office direct and you can then choose from a selection of shows. Unfortunately, the website isn’t very clear on what can be booked and when and this caused a bit of confusion. The website states ‘Performances are available for selected midweek and weekend evenings and matinees, depending on show and subject to availability.’ When I called to book I was told that only 1 show was available on a weekend and that was something both me and Mum had already seen. Obviously, as I had already redeemed the voucher (and had a hotel booked) there wasn’t much I could do at this point. Thankfully, the woman I dealt with on the phone offered me tickets for another show but I had to pay a bit to upgrade the tickets and we had to go to the matinee performance. I actually didn’t mind this as we got much better seats for a better show for not too much extra. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t use this kind of experience voucher for a weekend break.
Booking our restaurant and meal was a lot easier and much less stressful. You can choose to eat at either Prezzo, Zizzi or ASK Italian and you must book a table online using the steps provided. Prezzo is always a good choice and I know there are options for both me and Mum on the set menu so I booked this for after our theatre trip. In London there are plenty of restaurant locations to choose from so we booked somewhere only a short tube ride away from both the theatre and our hotel.
Wicked at the Apollo Theatre
We arrived at the Apollo Theatre at 2pm ready to collect our tickets. There are 2 different entrances to the theatre and various queues for different things. It’s really unclear which queue is which unless you’re at the front so we kept having to move around, asking where we needed to be which was a bit of a pain. However, it only took us 5 minutes to wait and then get our tickets. We were in our (really good) seats a good 15 minutes before the show started. I was really glad we paid to upgrade as we ended up with Dress Circle seats in the second row.
I really didn’t know what to expect from Wicked. All I knew about it beforehand was the song Defying Gravity but nothing else. The whole show was great though and I enjoyed every second. For me, it was a bit of a mix between Harry Potter, Legally Blonde and Mean Girls and you can’t go wrong with any of those. The songs were fun and catchy and Defying Gravity was certainly the best moment in the show. Mum and I left the theatre so happy that this is what we chose to see.
A 3 course meal at Prezzo
After the theatre I’d booked our meal at Prezzo Marble Arch. At the time, I thought it would be a bit out of the way and quieter than other areas. I was wrong though. We decided to walk from the theatre and it was hell. I forgot about Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park so the crowds were insane and it took us longer than expected to get to the restaurant. The meal consists of 3 courses for 2 people and a glass of wine each. We opted for a soft drink though instead and this wasn’t any problem at all.
For starters I was pretty sad that my favourite breaded mozzarella wasn’t available so I chose the garlic bread instead while Mum had pizza bites. We didn’t have to wait very long for our starters which was good because we were starving. My garlic bread was delicious and lovely and soft but Mum’s pizza bites were slightly overdone in places. That didn’t matter too much though as it wasn’t a lot and Mum still said they were really nice.
For our mains we both went for pasts; I had penne carbonara and Mum had spaghetti bolognese. I had been really tempted to get pizza but I changed my mind at last minute when I was asked what I wanted. Although you have to pick from a set menu, there are plenty of options and something for everyone.
For dessert Mum had sorbet and I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. We did have quite the wait between our main and dessert which meant our meal took a lot longer than we were expecting. I think in total we were there for nearly 2 hours and I think it was a bit too long really. We found it a bit strange that the dessert of all things was what took the longest. Regardless of the wait though, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and it was a great choice to use with the voucher. You can also buy a voucher for the meal alone for around £30 which is really good value for money.
The Days Out Together gift box is such a lovely idea and as there are so many options to choose from, there is bound to be something for everyone. We may have had a few booking issues initially