A night out at a London show is one of the best ways to celebrate a special occasion. Sure you can just buy tickets on the internet, or phone the theatre, even – if you are feeling lucky – just turn up on the night! But a great night out usually needs a little more planning… and by adding on extra bits, you can find yourself saving yourself a lot of time and often a lot of money!
There are two packages that stick out for London theatres – the theatre break with a stay at a hotel included, and the pre-theatre meal deal with dinner included in the price of the ticket.
The Posh London Theatre Break
Now “posh” can be the Ritz or it can be just not falling asleep on the train. It is not necessarily where you stay but how you do it. So most Theatre Breaks companies have a range of central hotels – generally from two star to five star. Usually “central” means anywhere in the zone one travel district (but beware “London” for some London show package companies can
mean a very long way out indeed – without much warning). If you are worried about where you stay then only look at hotels within zone one travel area, keeping you nice and central and stick to 4 star hotels and above – there are really no nasty surprises in the four star range in London!
For “posh” I have also included the assumption that you want best seats. This doesn’t necessarily mean top price but it does mean Stalls or Dress Circle seats. Why? Because sometimes it is nice to be with the posh people down the front and you do feel more involved even if you are still watching the same show! And these seats needn’t cost you the earth – see below!
The other tip for saving money in the theatre is not to buy a drink in the interval. Have a drink before hand or afterward and make sure you buy your Maltesers at the sweet shop round the corner. Only if you are showing off do you buy anything other than a programme at the theatre! Sorry London theatre owners but it’s true – and you know it! If you have to do something in the interval stay in the auditorium and discuss the show – your date will think you awfully cultured! If you can’t think of anything to say nip out to the pub next door… that will be where the band are!
The Value Deal Theatre Break
Every theatre has cheap seats. You can sit in them, you can have a pre-theatre dinner before them and you can even have them as part of your theatre break. They can be as much as £35 less than the top price seats and if you are looking to book a weekend break in London with a performance on the Saturday night that is the only way you will save money.
As long as you are not going at the weekend, theatre breaks can include best seats for only a few quid more – only tourists turn up on a Saturday night expecting best seats to be there waiting for them at a sensible price. So “value theatre break needn’t mean you must to have rubbish seats. The trick for saving money on these “top price” seats is not to go on a Saturday night and look out for Saver tickets or Special discounts when selecting your tickets on a theatre break website. Not all shows have them but most do.
Either you have already booked your hotel or you live close enough to get home after the theatre. Whatever the case, you do not have time to cook your own meal and eat it and avoid indigestion before taking your seat at your chosen show. Because London restaurants know they will get rid of pre-theatre diners before the main rush, they can feed you for a minimal amount. Combine this with the knowledge that London shows are sometimes happy to let some deals slip out to the travel trade whereas a member of the general public will be charged full asking price then you have the recipe for a really cheap evening out. So you have best seats and a two course pre-theatre meal for around £60pp during the week. At the weekend this can remain the same but on a Saturday night it will rise to £80 -£90 pp. That may seem steep but some agents charge that just for the ticket on a Saturday night! You can also get similar deals on cheaper seats with dinner/theatre deals around £80 for two
Do you organise it yourself or get someone else to? You could get it cheaper… maybe, but how do you know if the restaurant is any good, or if it is close to your theatre or if the hotel really has three stars? How do you know you can get it cheaper and how much cheaper, and is it better or at least as good as? And then there is the train travel… travel agents used to have to go on courses to learn how to use the rail ticketing system in this country and you are expecting to do it in between the end of X Factor and the start of Match of the Day – after having sunk a bottle of wine (who does X Factor sober?).
Would you take a £300 gamble on your 20th Wedding anniversary or your first serious date? No! Check out companies like Theatre Breaks for both theatre and hotel breaks and theatre and dinner packages.