Thursday, August 25, 2016

Seeing Jon Snow in London: Review of the Duke of York Theatre Box Seats

During our visit to London, Mrs. Points Ninja and I had the chance to see Jon Snow... er, Kit Harrington, doing his take on Dr. Faustus. Discount theatre tickets are fairly easy to come by in London; but, since we were there for only a short time, I decided to plan ahead.

Dr. Faustus was playing at the Duke of York Theatre, a smallish house in the West End that was an easy walk from the Conrad St. James. I wanted to make sure that we had good seats and a good experience, so I agonized over seat selection. Fortunately, there's at least one decent resource for figuring out which seats are "good" in various London Theatres. Theatremonkey, for instance, is a great resource. 

In the end, I chose Box C in the Royal Circle at £60.00 each, which included "the Ambassador experience." The Duke of York's has two boxes on each level, each with two movable chairs. 

Our box, circled in red.

Apologies for the poor photo!

Boxes E, F, H, and O.
The benefit of "the Ambassador experience," is that you will find in your box a champagne bucket with two splits of cava, a ramekin of nuts, a ramekin of chips, and a small box of (quite good) Belgian chocolates. Having a nice glass of bubbles was definitely a good way to get ready for the show.

Mrs. Points Ninja enjoying her cava.
Our view was unobstructed, but at an angle. 

To my mind, the chief benefit of booking a box was that there was absolutely no concern about having our view blocked by other theatre-goers. It wasn't cheap, by any means, but including a little booze in the price dulled the pain somewhat!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Howtown Hotel - Review: Off the Beaten Track, but Perhaps my Favorite Small Hotel ... Ever.

Earlier in the spring, I wrote a post regarding the booking process for the Howtown Hotel, in Howtown, Cumbria: Booking the Old Fashioned Way. This was the first time I'd booked by mail, and I hoped that the hotel itself would live up to it's retro booking process.

Let me say that I was definitely not disappointed. The Howtown Hotel easily ranks near the top of my list of the favorite places I've ever stayed. The accommodations were quite old-fashioned, but then so am I in many ways! So let's get on with the review.

Howtown is a hamlet (not even a village!) on the eastern shore of Ullswater in the Lake District. There are two ways to get there: 1) down a very narrow B road that runs along the Ullswater, or 2) via the Ullswater "Steamers", a boat service that runs between Pooley Bridge, Glennridding, Aira Force (a National Park), and Howtown.

Since we were in a rental car, we took the road after being stuck behind a very unlovely truck for a couple of miles:

Frankly, if I'm going to get stuck behind a truck in England, I'd much rather it be one like this:

The most wonderful lorry in England, found at the Chelsea Flower Show... but more on that later.

Still, we were rewarded for our patience by arriving at the very, very lovely Howtown Hotel:

This is a long review, I'm afraid, as I found little clear information about the hotel online. Accordingly, I wanted my review to be very thorough. A full review follows after the break...