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Tuesday 1 May 2012

Sluttery Travels: Ten Manchester Street, London and Cocktail Masterclass

Last week I stayed as a guest at Ten Manchester Street, an elegant townhouse hotel in Marylebone. Tucked away on a quiet side street, yet within walking distance of the most fun parts of London, makes it an excellent location for a weekend in the city.

My petit double was a decent size for such a central hotel, and avoided feeling like a generic Travel Tavern thanks to nice touches like red velvet chairs, an artfully arranged fruit bowl, DVD player and enormous snuggly bed. A frosted glass door to the bathroom allows more light into the room via the bathroom window, but does mean it's not the hotel to go early in a relationship (despite shouted reassurances, I was never quite convinced my companion couldn't see through).

The food is decent and reasonably priced, especially if you opt for the set menu. My baked halibut with lemon and rosemary potatoes was delicious, as was the seafood pie. If you're a smoker, you'll appreciate the semi-outdoors enclosed cigar terrace which is so cosy that you'll feel like you're off somewhere exotic on holiday. Try the Tobacco Road cocktail, made with rum and tobacco liqueur, which tastes so smoky that I expected a puff of smoke to appear when I breathed out. In the morning, you can help yourself to the continental breakfast or order a full English which, I'm told, features the best black pudding EVER.
But you're not here to hang out eating. Staying here means easy access to Selfridges, the Wallace Collection, the shops of Bond Street and Oxford Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Atherton Cox (best lash extensions and brow threading in London) and Regents Park. Basically, all the best bits of London are in tottering distance. Rooms start at £149 per night - if you're really splashing out, you can get a garden terrace room for £249.

Time your visit for one of their monthly cocktail masterclasses, held in a secluded area of the dining room. Themed by ingredients, I rocked up to the vodka class. The invitation opened in the finest way known to humankind: "your evening begins with a champagne reception".

We each had our own cocktail station complete with various glasses, a strainer, Boston shaker and wooden muddler. The table was strewn with tempting ingredients like vanilla sugar syrup, basil leaves, lime juice and chopped lemon, and smelled and looked delicious.

Head mixologist Joel Lawrence talked us through how to make three cocktails, including a decent vodka martini and a vodka sour. If you're as inept at cocktail making as I am, then don't worry: this evening doesn't take itself too seriously. One instruction was "it should look like the bottom of a pond" as we bashed together basil and ginger, and no-one minded the class coming to a halt for several minutes when I discovered I couldn't unwedge my shaker.

A relaxed and intimate atmosphere saw us kicking off our shoes, sharing tales of snogging mishaps and trading titbits of celebrity gossip. Things I learned:

1) how to make a delicious vodka twist on a mojito
2) which Hollywood star has an extraordinarily tiny penis
3) that a vodka martini is, essentially, like drinking a mug of vodka
4) HOW GOOD chocolate wine is (SO good)
5) which US singer was once so emaciated that she didn't have the upper body strength to lift a burger
6) I cannot say no to champagne.

There were canapes to soak up the booze - proper canapes like fish and chips, mini burgers, and empanadas which we wolfed down and which I must thank for my lack of hangover the next day.

Places are £69 for an entire evening of free flowing cocktails and food. It would make a lovely birthday or hen night treat that you'll be talking about for months. There's a lethal sounding gin and vodka evening on 23 May, and a Pimms and champagne evening on 20 June.

I was a guest of Ten Manchester Street.


  1. I love the sound of the Masterclass - if it ever coincides with a trip down to see my best friend I'll have to get us booked in!

    1. Oh, do, it was so much fun. Beforehand, I'd thought £69 was far too much for a cocktail evening - and while it's a lot of money, it's worth it for a special night out. Endless booze and snacks and gossip.


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