Stay in the heart of town with @travelodgeuk #hotel #hotelstay #refurb #wheretostay

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Hey Snoochers, so its been a little while, and we’re sorry for our absence but as you may have seen on Twitter we’ve been working super hard to set up our sister site The Reel Deal.

Now we are back! And kicking off a brand new load of fun lifestyle content just for you with our very first review for the brand new refurbished Travelodge Hotels. We sent Becks to the heart of Theatreland in London to spend a night at the Covent Garden hotel to see what its got to offer… and she even did this very kind video review  just for us!

So we hope you’ve got a good idea of what its like to stay in one of these very convenient and affordable hotels (rooms start from £29, our recommendation is that you sort out your booking online). To be fair, you’re going to spend most of your time outside of the hotel, exploring the great cities they’re based in, so why pay through the roof for a bed!

It gets a big thumbs up from us!

Laters Snoochers!

 

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If there’s one call you make this month, it’s The Call #film #review #movie

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A gripping thrill rollercoaster of a ride, The Call is an interesting insight into the world of the Los Angeles 911 emergency services.

Starring Oscar winner Halle Berry as Jordan Turner a veteran 911 operator, we watch her journey as she takes a life altering call from a teenage girl played by Little Miss Sunshine herself Abigail Breslin. Not only does this call mean Jordan has to try and guide this girl to safety, she also has to confront a killer from her past and overcome her fears. Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 08.36.57

Cut back and forth between the abduction and ‘The Hive’ (the department for 911 emergency assistants who work away like busy bees) the audience are taken on a tense ride and education as to what it really means to be a 911 operator. Making judgments between protocol and human instinct is a fine line in lifesaving situations, as we see through this film. Halle Berry is back to her finest in the majority of this film, as she showcases a mix of emotions that make the audience empathise with the difficult job she is faced with. Just like her character we understand the stress of the job and the natural (probably female) instincts that she has when faced with a child being abducted, and the consequences that lie ahead should Jordan as the operator put a foot wrong.

We also see a fantastic performance from Abigail Breslin as the victim. We follow her day as a normal girl shopping in a mall with her friend, and then once left alone, gets drugged, abducted and thrown in the trunk of a car by her kidnapper. The most tense and exciting part of the film is the interaction between the victim and Jordan. From the trunk she manages to make a 911 call which initially goes through to a rookie who finds herself way out of her depth and then gets passed on to Jordan. From this point on, you as the audience find out some really clever tricks to try and get yourself rescued from a kidnapping, using everything you can find to discover where you are travelling to, what the car looks like and most importantly anything you can do to pop open that trunk and jump out.Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 08.37.28

Breslin shows here that she has matured from a child to young adult actor seamlessly. Matching Halle Berry’s ranges of emotions, you watch her go from despair to sheer determination to get herself out of this situation alive. It’s this that makes the first three quarters of this film so engaging to watch…

…And then, sadly, in the last fifteen minutes or so, the film takes a tumble, so prepare yourself for this. After an hour and fifteen minutes of an intense, edge of your seat adrenalin filled thrill ride of a film, The Call sadly falls into the depths of B-Movie status and takes a route so completely left field of the original plot its not only difficult to watch, its also totally disappointing. It’s a shame that the film leaves you with such a sour taste at the end, it had so much promise, but there is still the opportunity to remember the immense film you had watched just before this semi-car crash.

Regardless of it’s ending, The Call is still very much worth a watch. For the majority, it’s an intelligent, intense and exciting film with great performances.

The Call hits cinemas on the 20th September 2013.

3 Stars.

 

Movie Monday: Mark Wahlberg fans get ready for another crowd pleaser with 2 Guns #film #review

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Mark Wahlberg is making some clever role choices this year, showing he’s versatile, engaging and exciting to watch… in 2 Guns he positions himself against the great Denzel Washington and proves to be a fantastic sparing partner full of quick wit, muscle and great comedic timing.

The film itself follows the two Hollywood heavyweights play a DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer who find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew that the other was an undercover agent.Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 08.22.51

Speaking of working with Denzel Washington, Wahlberg said at a recent press conference in London, “It’s just one of those things, it either works or it doesn’t. He was game, I was game; we had a great part and a great director in Baltasar, who knows me and how I like to work. I like to improvise a lot, and I like to constantly be throwing curveballs at people, and he was just up for it, so it kind of worked.”

We certainly see this working to a tee in the film, as well as a fantastic pre-credits opening scene where the fun friendly relationship is established between the two characters, we also learn that some of the quick quips that Wahlberg throws out during a ‘chicken shooting scene’ are actually improvised, which will have audiences rolling with laughter throughout.

What’s great about this film is most certainly the relationships. When actors work well together on set it comes across brilliantly on scene, this is very apparent here. Not only from Wahlberg and Washington but with Paula Patton as a supporting DEA agent and love interest, plus the superb Bill Paxton who plays Earl a ruthless CIA agent.Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 08.23.28

2 Guns remains fast paced and exciting throughout, it brings back sentiments of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but unfortunately its nowhere near as memorable. Its certainly a film that you could go to the cinema, and enjoy with your friends, but in terms of a staple addition to your collection, we’re not so sure. Never the less, if you’re a Denzel, or a Mark Wahlberg fan, you wont be disappointed, for Denzel he steps away from the serious and brings his smooth talking ability to centre stage with great ease, and for Wahlberg we see another slightly off the wall sidekick character which shows that he’s got some serious acting chops as well as his muscle.

2 Guns shoots straight into cinemas on the 16th August.

3 Stars

Albert’s Table takes fine dining to another level in a sleepy London suburb. @albertstable #restaurantreview #food

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Fine dining doesn’t have to come at a painful price, you can get elegance, superb service and good quality food only a short train ride away from London.

IMG_3231Albert’s Table provides a relaxing environment where you are most certainly focused on the food rather than who’s walking through the door. There is no stuffy atmosphere, the staff are friendly and know their stuff, and the cuisine is brilliantly created from quality British ingredients such as world class meat, vegetables and dairy all from British farmers, and producers and you really can taste the difference.

The style of food is very much British, but with a slight modern take to include some of the best influences from Europe. The restaurant opened in June 2008, under the leadership of Joby Wells, who has previously worked in a number of Michelin starred restaurants for many years. Since opening, Alberts table has quickly grown a reputation for high end dining and has led the charge for the increasingly popular restaurant quarter in Croydon.

IMG_3239The menu itself has a relatively large array of choice and wont break the bank with prices starting at £28.00 for a two course dinner. It allows you to ponder over mouth watering descriptions including a starter of gurnard and saffron soup with Cornish mackerel and salt cod brandade ravioli, leading on to a main of Ravioli of truffle mashed potato with new season spring vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, soft herb emulsion and rocket leaves. We went for the latter for our main and it was delicious and fair sized in terms of portion, so you wont feel short-changed unlike other fine dining restaurants.

The real winning ingredient for this restaurant is its attention to detail and genuine aim to please. From stunningly summery Louis Barthelemy Champagne with Strawberry to begin your dining experience through to the carefully plated up food that is presented with not a drop of sauce out of place; it really wont be long until Alberts Table proudly places a Michelin star sign in its window, and well deserved too!

To book your place at this fantastic restaurant, then click here

To follow Alberts table on Twitter then click here

 

 

 

New York on a shoe string – Affordable dining at the Mandarin Oriental’s Asiate restaurant @MO_HOTELS #food #newyork #finedining

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You literally can live the high life in New York for under $50 if you know the right spots to visit; and thanks to a very kind recommendation, we managed to find a hidden gem in a well known luxury.

New York oozes style, money and culture, and for some the dream of visiting the big apple can often remain just that. However, we’ve found a few little gems which will get your mouths watering and keep your bank manager still smiling.

The Mandarin Oriental is the height of luxury, it stands on the corner of Central Park opposite Donald Trumps hotel and soars high into the sky. However, you may just chose to stay in more affordable accommodation elsewhere, which is perfectly fine, but make sure you book in lunch here!

Soaring well above the skyline on the 35th floor is the Asiate restaurant. A pan Asian experience which for us superscrimpers luckily has a Prix Fixe menu (3 courses) for just $35! If you’ve never experienced fine dining before, this is certainly a great place to start. It has excellent service, delicious food and views over central park to die for!

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The attire is smart casual, and that means that after a morning of walking around this amazing city, you can still look glam in your slinky sandals and smart flip flops. You’ll be surrounded by lots of corporate business people who have used this as a location to secure a deal or two, but really you, the tourist are getting the deal breaker. You’ll feel straight like a character out of Sex and the City, and really experiencing what it means to be a high-flying Manhattan native!

IMG_3073For us, the first course consisted of a Ceviche pallet cleanser with a little hint of wasabi and some cuts of oranges and sea food – it was delicious and really set the scene for the culinary delights to come. Following that, you get a choice of pea soup or tuna nicoise salad, which was elegant and not too filling.

The main course has a selection of three dishes, Scallops, which are so rich in flavor that it almost becomes difficult to finish, Black Seabass, which was totally moreish but delivered in the perfect amount, and for those who didn’t want to stray too far from British shores, a lamb cutlet with mashed potato.

Finally you had the choice of two deserts, either a dark devils delight chocolate fondant (which of course we chose!) or an Almond and Rhubarb fondant. The chocolate choice exuded decadence and luxury and was a melt in your mouth experience!IMG_3072

So in terms of a bargain, surprisingly the Mandarin Oriental provided something above and beyond our expectations. This was an experience perfect for a treat, a birthday or just something different to do whilst you’re touring the city. Our one word of caution is to watch out for the additional prices on drinks – a glass of wine, a bottle of water and a cup of tea or coffee to finish your meal, will start to rack up the price point, so if you are watching your wallet be careful of that!

Finally, to ensure that you get one of the breathtaking window seats, make sure you plan ahead – these tables can go months in advance, and sometimes can be given as priority seating to those who are staying at the hotel. So our recommendation is that you specifically request this when making your booking.

For more information on this unique dining experience, click here

Happy Dining!!

 

How easy is it to create great Shabby Chic furniture? #shabbychic @autenticopaint

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So the first hints of Summer were out this weekend and we sent one of our bloggers, Becky Perfect, to try out one of the big homeware trends over the last couple of years. Becky’s always been fascinated by the idea of shabby chic furniture restoration, mainly because with a little lick of paint they can sometimes sell for a lot of money! And with that in mind, there was just no stopping her!!

So armed with an old pine bed headboard she set out to see if a little lick of paint and a bit of sand paper really could do the trick, oh and she was kind enough to make a video about it too….

Huge thanks have to go to Autentico paint and Smile@home who gave Becky the inspiration and guidance in the first place! Much appreciated!

If you’re looking to do your own shabby chic furniture restoration then send us in your top tips and final pictures! We’d love to see how you get on!

Happy shopping!

Step into another world with @evansandpeel Detective Agency – #food #dining #restaurant

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A couple of streets away from Earls Court station, you’ll find a door with an old fashioned lamp above it and a queue of twenty-somethings standing outside. No, its not the entrance to a 1 Direction secret gig (although the twenty-somethings would certainly have one up on the tween population if that was the case!) its the entrance to one of London’s very cool themed restaurants.

It’s called Evans and Peel and plays out as a basement speakeasy where discretion is the name of the game on all accounts. Once  you manage to find the place, buzz the bell and finally get through to someone on the other end, you are summoned downstairs in the groups you have come with, to face a man dressed up, as per the era, ready to interrogate you about “your case.” Ours was the search for the KFC Colonels secret recipe (as you do) and we had a long and rather amusing grilling about the hunt for fast food chicken, Big Macs and the odd Burger King establishment. Once satisfied that your case is ‘legit’ you are let in to the secret world of Evans and Peel.

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The great thing about this place is that it really does transport you to another world. The lighting is pretty much non existent, bar the candles at your (very small) tables. There is a no-standing policy, so although a tiny space, you do feel like you’ve got privacy to have your own discussions without some stranger in earshot or without you having to raise your voice too much to compete with an over crowded room – the atmosphere is just right. Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 10.05.32

Food isn’t the main priority at Evans and Peel – they focus much more on their drinks. One word of advice, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for the drinks as they don’t come cheap! Cocktails will set you back around £10-11. But what you do need to remember is that 1) they don’t scrimp on the alcohol, you really do get a kick from it! 2) You’re paying for the experience. As well as a few moonshine beers, we also tried their recommended drink of the day – The Whiskey Barrelled Martinez – which felt almost as if you were drinking syrup it was so heavy and takes a lot of guts for even the heaviest of drinkers to do anything beyond slowly sipping it.

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 10.05.19The food that is available, is served in a tapas like way – lots of small plates with sadly not a lot on them. We have to say that this is the biggest let down of the evening. The food is extremely expensive and not only does it lack in size, there really isn’t anything stand out either. Just to give you an example, four mini burgers and three sides known as the ‘whole caboodle’ will set you back £32, and realistically wouldn’t be a full meal for just one person, let alone the party of four we were with. Its a real shame, as there is the opportunity to do something really fun with the food here.

All in all, we’d recommend Evans and Peel as a great date night venue, perfect to impress with as its cool, kooky and definitely a lot of fun. This wouldn’t go on the cheap end of the price scale however, so if you do want to experience the evening properly, you’ll have to be prepared to pay around £50 per person for your night there, if not a bit more. But what you do get is something different, something hidden and an experience that definitely does break away from the norm, even if the role playing aspect kind of stops at the secret doorway. All in all, it’s good, but with a little more TLC, could be a lot better.

3 stars.

  • Phone: 020 7373 3573
  • Website: www.evansandpeel.com/
  • Opening hours: Open 5pm-midnight Tue-Thur; 5pm-00.30 Fri-Sat
  • Transport: Tube: Earl’s Court tube