As the first splutterings of Spring finally threaten to burst into life, thoughts turn to Summer, Wimbledon, Henley … and the British Airways-sponsored “Taste of London 2013” restaurant festival in Regents Park.
There is a good reason for discussing this on Head for Points, because ironically it offers me one of the bigger perks of my British Airways Executive Club Silver status – free entry into the British Airways Executive Club tent! Read on for more details and a ‘Taste of London’ promotional code.
Basically, imagine a circle of tents in the middle of Regents Park. Each tent is occupied by a different high-end London restaurant, which is cooking a small number of typical dishes from their menu. These are sold on paper plates and eaten, standing up, with plastic forks.
In the middle of the circle are a large number of niche food and drink companies selling packaged food and drink direct. There is more to it, of course, but that is it in a nutshell.
For reasons I never understand, British Airways is the main sponsor. The British Airways Executive Club tent is ONLY open to BA Gold and Silver card holders, plus a guest.
The tent is part Galleries Lounge, part cocktail party. There is a huge amount of free champagne available (at least until it runs out!). There is a decent amount of free food brought around on trays. There are also usually some wine tasting and cheese tasting tables. As an added bonus, senior BA management usually turn up on Saturday afternoon for a chat.
In general, though – and forgetting about the BA tent for a minute – I have a massive problem with Taste of London. It is simply too expensive for what you get. Standard tickets are a shocking £24 in advance plus crazy booking fees, and this gets you nothing. Once inside, you still need to buy non-refundable vouchers for food dishes from the stands, which tend to run from £4 to £7 each. This is expensive given the modest portions and ‘paper plate, no seat’ service. A couple would spend £120 between them without blinking.
The weather is also a real issue. I have been for the last 5 years, and for three of those years it has either been chucking it down with rain or the ground is waterlogged from earlier rain. Outside the BA tent, there isn’t much in the way of cover and it is too busy to use an umbrella easily.
There are also decent promotions available for tickets. As the sponsor, BA tends to have the best deals. You can access the ticket website here and promotional code BA241 gets you two tickets for the price of one for Thursday or Friday.
Code BAVIP gets you a VIP ticket for £40 instead of £60. The main benefit here is the £20 of food vouchers that come with it. If you are attending on Thursday or Friday with someone else, the 241 code above is marginally cheaper. For the weekend sessions, it makes more sense to use the BAVIP code instead of paying for a standard ticket at full price and buying food vouchers on the day.
If you have British Airways Gold or Silver status, and you get a discounted ticket, and you like champagne, then attending is not a bad deal! You would be paying sub-£20 for an afternoon of champagne and canapes, and if you’re lucky the weather will be on your side.
If you go on your own, you should know that a huge percentage of people in the British Airways Executive Club tent, especially on Saturday afternoon, will be readers of Head for Points or posters at Flyertalk and similar boards. Never feel shy of starting a conversation with someone, you may even find out you are speaking to a poster you recognise!