The Royal Albert Hall: More than just violins and opera

Royal Albert Hall (l)

A great tour of a beautifully historic building

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge a banana by its skin.  Don’t judge the Royal Albert Hall by the BBC television coverage of classical music recitals. Sure, its a wordy phrase but I’m telling you, it’s going to catch on.

That’s because I did judge. I judged hard. To me, the Royal Albert Hall had always been a big, red brick donut where people played violins and wore swanky suits but it turns out it’s so much more than that. Truth be told, I was brought up on a wide variety of music including classical and I’m a lifelong lover of Chopin so I’m not dismissing Classical recitals, I’m merely expressing the plethora of events and shows which go beyond that genre at the Royal Albert Hall. I’m saying this from an informed perspective because London …I did the RAH tour. Not sure if it’s called that, but I’m calling it that.
That’s right, the RAH (as seasoned visitors call it, which I now am) does tours and I went on one and I loved it. I’m a proper geek at heart as it is, so to me, learning about history was right up my street -but I didn’t expect to quite be as impressed by it all as I was.
I came away having learnt thousands of fascinating facts* which will guarantee me a win at the next pub quiz without any iPhone cheating. I also nestled my commoner, peasant-like bum cheeks into the Queen’s chair in the royal retiring room whilst undoing any chance of ever qualifying as royalty by expressing ‘…those blingy chandeliers are the bomb.” Finally, I reclined in Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s seat to watch the ballet company rehearse Romeo and Juliet which was a huge deal based on how ballet-obsessed I’ve been for years.
I learnt that the RAH host gigs, concerts and cinema nights with a full-on orchestra playing the score alongside the film. Imagine watching Lord of the Rings and having the soundtrack played live to you whilst watching Frodo go on what is essentially a really frustrating hunt for a piece of jewellery. I’m not a fan of LOTR (in case you couldn’t tell) but I’d definitely love that experience. Other events and experiences include ballets, recitals, gigs and the champagne afternoon tea and tour -which I decided to partake in, for the benefit of the review obviously.
Our tour was just the right length, time-wise, and was followed by a really relaxed afternoon tea in the Royal Albert Hall’s sunny Coda Lounge. It consisted of a selection of teas, sandwiches and pastries -and as someone who’s certainly had their fair share of afternoon teas, I can report that everything was delicious, innovative and memorable. It’s classy without being too contrived and would be the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. Or just a week day afternoon -life’s too short to wait for special occasions, who we kidding.
I whole-heartedly recommend the champagne tour of the Royal Albert Hall and having visited this London gem, it’s been added to my list, under the guise “See a show at the RAH from the Royal Box”. Maybe I’ll only partly achieve that objective, but one can certainly try.

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*What’s that? You want some facts? Who the hell can blame you.

-The Royal Albert Hall hosted the first ever sumo wrestling game outside of Japan. Ok then.

-It’s classed as Europe’s largest indoor cinema.

-It’s made up of six million bricks and eighty thousand terracotta blocks

-The Royal Albert Hall still pays one shilling a year for the rent of the land it’s built on, as they did in 1871. Cheapest rent in London.

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