As a surprise for his birthday I decided to take Sharps to the Faulty Towers The Dining Experience at London’s Charing Cross Hotel. Sharps isn’t a big fan of surprises so as we got off the train at Charing Cross Station (he was convinced we were going to the South Bank for some reason) I was a bit nervous. After making him wait outside until I ascertained where we had to go, I managed to keep him in the dark until we were in the show’s designated bar area. After ordering us a bottle of house wine (£22.95) at the makeshift bar (I did try to order a more expensive bottle from the hotel’s main bar but they wanted to charge us £4 service literally just for opening a bottle which I thought was a bit steep) we waited with the rest of the people congregating for dinner.
Suddenly, mid-sip, we spotted Manuel cleaning glasses (and polishing peoples’ heads) and true to form his well meaning misunderstandings were the source of most of the evening’s hilarity. Sybil and Basil are also on hand (there’s no Polly) to keep the misguided Manuel in check. Faulty Towers The Dining Experience includes a three-course meal and I’d envisaged a restaurant type surrounding similar to that in the Fawlty Towers programme. But rather than individual tables there were eight large, round, tables in one main dining room. And as peoples’ names were called out briskly by Basil we were allocated seats next to random strangers which made it feel a bit like being at a wedding.
An American couple next to us were brave enough to ask ‘Basil’ if there was any Waldorf Salad on the menu and the evening was peppered with classic lines and jokes from the Fawlty Towers TV series. The actors were particularly impressive, both by way of their mannerisms and their ability to ad lib, I’d imagine it’s quite tricky when you’ve no idea what diners might say to you. We were practically crying with laughter when one ‘guest’ ended up covered in garnish, he was wiping it out of his hair for about 5 minutes, after Manuel yet again misunderstood what he was supposed to be doing. The show’s creators, Interactive Theatre international, are in fact Australian which shows the humour of the Fawlty Towers TV series transcends nationalities, although the actors in the show we saw are English.
Foodwise, it’s not a high-end culinary experience, so if you’re after gourmet dining then you’ll be disappointed. What you do get is two hours of brilliant entertainment, with the added bonus of a three-course meal thrown in. And at £43.50 (Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday evenings, plus Sat-Sun matinées) or £49.50 (Friday-Saturday evenings) you can’t complain as it’s a pretty good value night out in London. The cast also went to great lengths to ensure anyone that was celebrating a special occasion was suitably embarrassed, so again if you’re looking for a quirky gift this hidden gem definitely fits the bill – our new friends told us they found out about the Faulty Towers Dining Experience by googling unusual things to do in London.
It’s easy to see why the Faulty Towers Experience was a smash hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Faulty Towers Dining Experience was one of the best nights out in London we’ve had for ages and the good news is this hidden gem is back on in London for a new run. So if you miss out it’ll be totally your own fault.