Is it fair to judge a venue according to your own taste when you're clearly not its target audience? Anyone could inadvertantly stumble through the doors of the VIP lounge in Cardiff Bay and in that respect it deserves to be judged as anywhere else that I might go drinking.
We visited VIP lounge on Friday evening with a few friends for a late night beverage. Tucked away round the corner and up some stairs from the new Cote Brasserie, VIP lounge cuts a fairly inconspicous figure as far as the Cardiff Bay drinking scene goes. Ascending the stairs (we could have taken the lift with plenty of room for wheelchair access) which are elaborately decorated with ornate crystal light fittings (just like my grandparents used to have) we were beginning to wonder whether we were about to gate crash someone's wedding reception judging by the sounds coming from within. It was only when we cast the doors open wide that the full spectacle was revealed. It is here I hand you over the words of VIP lounge's own website
"a world of almost sinful luxury. Velvet drapes in deepest red and dark lacquered wood set the sumptuous scene for this stunning new champagne bar/piano lounge. The interior features five 7-foot chandeliers, a 28-foot long ice bar, a 45 Swarovski crystal chesterfield and a grand piano, plus lots of little touches that just keep the wow factor going."
If this sounds like your bag then you're clearly the VIP lounge's target audience. However, I don't think I really fit the description - I'm often more of the opinion that less is more. VIP lounge certainly don't take this viewpoint either when it comes to the pricing of their drinks. A double gin and tonic will set you back £8.80 and a pint of draught Poretti lager will set you back £4.50 (ouch). To be fair though I must concede that these generous prices are slightly offset by the bar snacks on each table (plump green olives and Japanese rice crackers) and the immensely talented entertainment on show....
Now I must admit that crooner style cabaret singers do not feature heavily in my CD collection but it's hard not to be won over when the 2 acts on show are able to sing better than 95% of X-factor contestants and probably have a combined age greater than all of this years bunch of wannabe popstars put together. Old Frank sang a few rat-pack era classics including Mack the Knife and I've got you under my skin whilst the Tony Christie-alike took on cheeky little numbers, which had the room singing, including Sweet Caroline and Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen. I tried to resist from tapping my feet but the rhythm eventually got me.
A couple of drinks later and a whole back catalogue of Barry Manilow-esque singalongs later we emerged back into the harsh the reality of the year 2011 and the cold Cardiff winter's air. I don't think I'll be returning to VIP lounge in a hurry but who knows, next time I'm shopping down the bay I may just be drawn in by the siren's song of Engleburt Humperdink emanating from an upstairs window.