Last Saturday (14th March) we ventured to Great Yarmouth and one of our favourite places the Grosvenor Casino, Shadingfield Lodge.
It was a bit of a family occasion, my two brothers and I, plus extended family. With the fears of the Corona virus we thought it would probably be the last chance to get out and by the look of things, this is true.
We travelled from our hometown of March, in Cambridgeshire, by train, changing at Ely and Norwich before the final journey shadowing the Acle straight to Great Yarmouth. The journey takes about two and a half hours. Not too bad with company but boring as hell if travelling alone.
Anyway, we arrived at the Norfolk coast at about 7:30pm. Waiting for Albies taxi in the bitter cold. I didn't realise how cold it was. They are normally like clockwork but we waited a good ten minutes which seemed longer as the wind blew.
The taxi dropped us off at the Embassy Hotel. I've stayed there before and the manager, David, is a great person, very helpful & polite. We were shown to our room 28, up in the rafters. It was the family room which consisted of three beds a double and two singles. I think the hotels fall short when it comes to decore but if this room had been decorated to a high standard it would have been the most exquisite room you could find. I couldn't help but think about how I would make the room look if mine.
Anyway, we settled into our room, had a cup of tea or two then walked from Camperdown to Marine Parade, less than fives minutes away. We walked past Pamela's restaurant that is a hidden gem for fine dining. I would recommend this establishment as you will not be disappointed.
We arrived at the Grosvenor Casino at about 8:30pm. I love this listed building and it is a beautiful building. In fact, it was a place frequented by royalty and the future King of England Edward VII.
You need to be a member to play and unfortunately, there were three new members before us which meant we had to wait for about 20 minutes. They really need a different process or swipe-card system as it took literally ten seconds for my memebership card to be scanned.
I think it must have been one of those days as I didn't have much luck when eating at the in-house restaurant. The plus side is that the room is simply majestic with high ceilings, ornate coving and huge mirrors. It is a beautiful room which looks over the front. In fact, you can see the Wellington Pier across the road.
Now here is the problem. We have had a few niggles with the restaurant before with very slow service or poor-quality food. To be fair, it can vary from one extreme to another so you don't know what to expect. The staff are always exceptional. They do their best but there must be a lack of communication because I was left wanting when it came to ordering my meal.
I follow the Great Yarmouth Grosvenor Casino Facebook page to see if they have any promotions.
I noticed their St. Patrick's Day promotion which ran until the 17th March. The promotion said: Beer, Burger Bet for £12.95.
This sounded great value. These promotions are detailed to attract new and old customers alike. However, there was a problem. Upon asking the staff about the offer they didn't have any idea what I was talking about!
It really is something and nothing but this just isn't what customers need. If it had been a new customer they would have been left feeling they were the problem for asking for a promotion. At one point, I had three members of staff helping, talking to others, making a phone call, and needing to take my membership card (I have no idea why) and waited literally 20 minutes for the order to be taken. That would be bad enough if I was alone, but my two brothers' order wasn't being cooked because of my promotional meal was in limbo.
It really is something and nothing but I wasn't happy about it because it shouldn't be a problem. Will it put me off asking for more promotions? No. I could have easily said forget about the promotional burger and got something simple. However, I didn't for the principle because these problems need to be ironed out. I was sent a survey a couple of days later and detailed all of this and I left a message on the Facebook page. It may seem a bit picky but I may save someone else a bit of hassle and it makes companies appreciate if they have an offer or promotion they live up to expectation.
I was left feeling a bit irritated by the whole scenario. I could tell I was looked upon as the problem when that was far from the case.
In future, I will be asking for every promotion the restaurant offers and if they don't know about it then I will ask to see the manager and detail all this again.
I finally got my beer, burger and bet for £12.95. The burger was very good. It was the Cha Cha Slide that is meant to cost £8.95. I had a pint of Coors lager (worth about £5) and given a free bet voucher for £10 to play on the roulette or blackjack table. So in essence, the meal cost about -£2. I think the general bet voucher of £5, but I imagine they gave me the £10 for the hassle and delay.
People may read this and think I am a grumpy old man. Perhaps, at times, I am but apart from a few occasions, I sing the praises of the Great Yarmouth Grosvenor Casino. I have written many posts on varied websites giving glowing praise and have little doubt I've informed many readers about the existence of this casino and this seaside town as a place to holiday. In fact, if these posts had been paid advertising they would have cost several hundred pounds.
After an hour or so in the restaurant, we walked downstairs to the gaming room. It has slots, blackjack, poker, three-card poker & roulette.
Considering the Corona virus was being brought to our attention I was surprised how many people were betting. I guess they, like us, wanted one last opportunity to forget about the problems at hand.
I don't bet much money at the casino as it is more of a social thing than trying to lose the shirt off my back. The casino are so desperate to get you betting they are very interested in giving you free bets. I had my £10 free bet and a couple of other £5 match bets from a previous occasion. I put £20 on the roulette table and given £40 in bets. This is the reason you are very likely to win when betting small stakes.
The rake on roulette is (if memory serves) 2.7%. So I firmly have the odds in my favour. This is the way to make your betting pay but also have a great evening out which costs next to nothing. Remember my promotion meal (yes, I haven't forgotten it was hard-fought) cost me nothing. In fact, I was £2 in pocket.
Additionally, all soft drinks, tea and coffee are free to all when betting downstairs. When you consider these would normally cost £4 - £5 a time you are looked after. They are brought to you at the table or from the bar.
I generally play roulette. I've had a few games at three-card poker but the rake is poor and if playing for a number of hours I think you need to be very lucky to win. From what I have seen, you are more likely to lose. I have the most boring approach to playing roulette. I bet on a single number and hope it comes up early. It is the equivalent to watching paint dry but it is just about the only way I know to give yourself a chance of winning.
This time I stuck with the number 28. It had come up a couple of times before I started and I often stick to those as they seem to come up again. Unfortunately, number 28 must have been sitting in the middle of a dusty, barren desert. The oasis wasn't anywhere near although it must have taken an hour and a half to lose my chips as the croupier seemed particularly slow. I think it was a combination of slow players and slow spins. I didn't mind as I was people watching. A couple of people won here and there but I think most covered the table and one or two spins which fall on barren ground means they walk away with little to show.
My brothers played on the roulette machines. Tony was up and down like a yo-yo but finished £90 up while Gareth was level.
My relatives had mixed fortunes. I would normally say a little bit more about the wins and losses but that's their business.
I do love the casino. It makes me smile and hearing the cheers of the crowd when someone wins and fleeting thoughts of those who look like they have suffered one loss too many. It is par for the course and you have to protect your own interests because if you lose a fortune you only have yourself to blame.
We left at about 1am.
Back to room 28 at the Embassy Hotel. It is like a maze. Through reception, up the stairs leading to number 1 - 7 and up, up and away, to the top of the hotel. I was pleased to get back.
I must admit I haven't had much luck with hotel rooms. I have stayed at the Comfort hotel and had to change rooms as some crazy couple were laughing and shouting about all hours.
Well, we got back to the Embassy Hotel and straight away heard some noise coming from an adjacent room. I wasn't sure if it was above, below or to the side but it was a noise wherever. Thankfully it was muffled. However, I could hear a duet of out of tune singing, then, later, argument and cursing at each other. I couldn't help but wonder who was in the room. Where did they come from? What had they been doing that evening? And what on earth did they look like? I had this image of some strange-looking beasts with monobrows, broken teeth and lizard tongues.
After an hour, I fell to sleep.
I woke just before 7am. I had a shower. I take a long shower to wake up as much as getting clean.
Tony and Gareth were still asleep.
By 8am we were ready to go to the bar area to get breakfast. It was a help-yourself-service but the food was good. It was a full English breakfast and you could have as much as you wanted. The staff were helpful and courteous.
It made me smile as my cousins arrived one by one.
One or two got in at 4am. I thought that was quite amusing. One cousin left the casino at 6am. Basically, they must have been asked to leave as it closes at that time, only to open again at 8am.
I could only imagine someone staying until 6am in the morning meant they were winning at 5am.
I didn't ask too much about winners or losers as I think most were feeling the effects of too much beer. Thankfully, I don't drink more than two pints. I felt pretty healthy and my finances weren't shot either.
I looked around the room and wondered if the argumentative pair of monobrow nutcases were tucking into a sausage or two. I didn't notice or hear anyone of that description telling the waitress to f-off or singing Morning Has Broken badly out of tune. I guess they had a lay-in.
We went back to our hotel room. We returned back to the bar area to waste a little time before leaving to walk along the front.
It was a warmish day and it is always lovely to walk along the front. Great Yarmouth is a place I hold dear to my heart because we always stayed at Caister-on-sea when youngsters as dad timed it to go to Great Yarmouth horse racing and the 3-day Eastern Festival in mid-September.
We walked along the front from Camperdown, past the Othello restaurant towards the Brittania Pier. I bought four doughnuts from a stall at the front and chatted to the lady about Coronavirus and the effects it would have on business.
We walked back to the casino, with a view to having Sunday lunch, meeting up with our cousins, and perhaps have a little game.
The casino was pretty quiet. A few patrons eating in the restaurant. The substantial breakfast meant we didn't need to eat, so we went downstairs to the gaming room. I played roulette on the machine and luckily won £30, I won £10 on the night and day. I have been very lucky over the years and well in profit.
Tony won £50 over the weekend and Gareth finished level.I'm not sure how my cousins went although I know at least one or two won.
At about 2pm Albies taxi arrived (punctually) and we got to the railway station, waiting just a few minutes to catch the train back to Norwich, changing at Ely and arrived at March about 4:30pm.
All in all, it was a great weekend.