The marketing geniuses from The Town Hall Hotel who have brought the immersive experience, The Grift to the east end of London deserve plenty of kudos. The show originally premiered in San Diego in 2015 to great acclaim and now you can experience the excitement of this theatrical extravaganza in Bethnal Green.
It is part theatre and part game as you criss-cross the many highlights of this renowned hotel whilst you are trained in art of the con. Each show has a maximum of 50 guests and they are divided into different coloured groups as they all set off with their coloured boxes with puzzles to solve and to meet the quirky characters of the hotel with a colourful past. You get trained in the way of the Grifter with scams like The Pig In The Poke, The Round-The-Corner, and The Money Swap and this all culminates in a final scene showdown with seedy criminal mastermind.
The experience did feel very much like a series of escape room scenarios rather than an overarching theatrical show, but you do have to wait for the ending for the satisfying emotional payoff. Some of the tasks did seem remarkably difficult but thankfully there were some very intelligent team members in our group and for example, you needed to be able to read musical notes to solve one of the puzzles.
One of the other highlights is the chance to see the many exceptional spaces in the hotel including the indoor heated pool, the breathtaking De Montfort suite and the council chamber. It’s the kind of cool marketing for the hotel that money can’t necessarily buy.
For £22 more, we went with their combined dinner and show package at their informal and intimate, Corner Room restaurant. It has been one of the most instagrammable restaurants in London with their clever array of retro-looking lampshades that form the main backdrop to the room.
However, I would recommend ordering from their a la carte menu rather than as a package. In typical grifter fashion, they managed to put some “starters” from their a la carte menu into the “mains” section for The Grift set menu. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of the cooking is superb, I enjoyed a thoroughly well-executed wild garlic agnolotti served with hedgehog mushrooms and buckwheat. This was bettered by an unusual pairing of squid with blood orange which I’ve never tried anywhere else before with fennel and pine nuts. It was refreshing and unique much like the show itself, but the portion was so small and then I released it was actually a starter when I got my hands on their a la carte menu.
My recommendation? Stick with a general ticket for the show which comes with a cocktail served during the show and book a table at Corner Room and enjoy their a la carte menu. The show is on until the 25th March.