** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**
Recently, as you may have seen if you follow me on social media, I attended my first ever bloggers event. An Essex bloggers event no less. As bloggers events go, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high with this one. The event consisted of welcome drinks, followed by afternoon tea, finished up with cocktails in the secret Dr Legba’s downstairs bar.
I’ll explain each part of the afternoon in more detail shortly, but first, let’s kick this review off in my typical fashion with a poem. An ode to the Royal Hotel, which by the way is no longer a hotel. Enjoy!
Once upon a time there was a Southend Hotel,
Frequented by Lady Hamilton and her Admiral Nelson as well
No stranger to a noble figure or two
This Royal Hotel soon became unused.
Then along came two brothers
Called Matt and Dave
This run down Hotel
They wanted to save
So along with their Dad they set to work.
To make this old hotel a restaurant and bar with quirk.
Prepared for hard work they rolled up their sleeves
Making the Royal Hotel a place you never want to leave.
Their vision achieved they opened their doors
To a place that is to be truly adored.
The food is divine, the cocktails unique
The flaming absinthe on tap is a fascinating treat
I hope you enjoyed that and it has got you wanting to know more, so here goes. Despite the name, The Royal Hotel is now a restaurant and bar contained within a grade 2 listed building and for that reason the name cannot be changed. On arrival, I was welcomed warmly and greeted by Matthew, the director of The Royal Hotel. The surroundings felt comfortable, clean, plush, but not poncey. Ornaments and lamps from Debenhams make the place feel homely and welcoming as do the staff.
I was offered a glass of The Bees Knees sparkling pink rose wine. This is alcohol free fermented grape juice with a green tea infusion. It’s a fab alternative to wine. I’ve since found this can be purchased at Ocado and Morrisons so I shall be treating myself often as this stuff was delicious.
Soon we were escorted by the fabulously entertaining and thoroughly informative Jonathan. He made sure our glasses were filled with prosecco whilst informing us all about the history of The Royal Hotel. Built in 1791, it became a regular haunt for Lady Hamilton. The mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who had a dinner party and ball in the very grand hall in which we sat. Months after the supper, he was killed during the battle of Trafalgar. The building hasn’t been used as a hotel since 1974.
The building still bears the original chandeliers, dance floor and coving which have been lovingly restored. The rest of the building has been refurbished and is unrecognisable from how brothers Matt and Dave and their Dad found it when they took over.
The food was truly amazing. My personal preference would be the Gentleman’s afternoon tea. My favourites being the mini beef burger, ham hock and welsh rarebit croque monsieur, miniature cider jelly, and the millionaires shortbread was just incredible.
A list of the menu’s can be found on their website here https://www.royalhotelsouthend.com/
Completely stuffed and feeling guilty for all the food I couldn’t fit in my belly, I then proceeded downstairs to the secret Dr Legba’s cocktail bar. I’m a huge fan of a cocktail but I was such a cocktail chav before Dr Legba’s. Woo woo’s, Cosmopolitan’s blah blah blah. Dr Legba’s will introduce you to flavours and tastes you never thought you would experience in a drink.
There are over 50 cocktails on the menu, a third of which have been created by Dave, who is a former head bar trainer at The London Cocktail club. One of my absolute favs, one of his own creations, is the Pork and Apple martini, served with a flaming absinthe caramelised bacon.
Dave created this using sour apple liqueur, Absolut vodka, pressed apple juice and fresh lime. It was truly so sweet and to coin one of my favourite phrases
It was like sex in a martini glass! Yum!
You have to visit just to try this, and I might add the flaming absinthe caramelised bacon is not just for show. You will have never tasted bacon like it! Although the menu varies from night to night, they are all to happy to make cocktails at your request should they not be on the menu the night you visit.
Dave has put so much work into making this bar a unique and magical place. Using as many reclaimed materials as possible, he created his own absinthe dispenser as well as painstakingly gluing over £170 worth of 2 pence pieces to the vertical bar front. He still has much in the pipeline, including a commissioned piece of art depicting the absinthe fairy. The secret, hidden door to the loos will soon have commissioned piece of artwork depicted the absinthe fairy. Dave also has plans to have circus style mirrors in the toilets and to eventually make the bar buzzer entry only, with the buzzer being hidden under a secret fairy door. You’ll be pleased to hear Dr Legba’s can also be hired for private functions.
I could literally rave about The Royal Hotel for many hundreds more words but I’ll tell you about one last special feature. Both The Royal Hotel and Dr Legba’s stock Dalmore whiskey. You have the option to complement the gentleman’s afternoon teas with a whisky platter of Dalmore 12 year whisky, 15 year whisky and cigar malt reserve. Dalmore are rather particular about who stock their whisky and they personally place the sale at venues chosen themselves.
Huge thanks to Matt, Dave, Jonathan and everyone that made my afternoon wonderful. I look forward to visiting again very soon and bringing family and friends.
Shoutout to a few fellow bloggers who helped with some of the images featured in this post. Also shoutout to the lovely fellow bloggers I met and had fun with at this event.
and to these fellow blogging ladies for helping me
And finally thank you for organising Penny at A Penny for Them
Until next time……
Featured Image photo taken by Kate at The Less-Refined Mind