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Secret Drinker reviews Upstairs At The Embassy in Skegness





Stepping into Upstairs at the Embassy you could be mistaken for thinking you Quantum Leaped into the body of an extra in The Only Way Is Essex.

With its neon lighting, velvet-upholstered, weird-shaped furniture and posh piano the vibe is more Sugar Hut than Skeggy seafront.

There’s even a VIP area where punters poured their champers from ice buckets. Totally reem, bro.

The bar looks nice but the choice of drinks is limited
The bar looks nice but the choice of drinks is limited

But, sadly, just like those expensive, highflying, material lifestyles promoted on TOWIE, Upstairs is very much style over substance.

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The problem facing a theatre bar is the fact that nobody is there for that drink. It’s before the Lord Mayor’s Show.

Like an airport pub, people are having a drink for having a drink’s sake. It’s nothing more than killing time.

A piano nobody used. The space could have been better used for seating
A piano nobody used. The space could have been better used for seating

A good bar draws people in to mix and mingle and share experiences. Upstairs draws people in because they have time on their hands as they wanted to beat the rush for a close-by parking space, and the evening’s real experiences will be shared in silence, watching someone else take centre stage while you sit in your dark, anonymous square-metre of space.

This fact was more than evident on the faces of the punters who sat staring at their drinks or making small talk with their partners and pals.

With its chic decor you could almost picture Del Boy rocking up here and ordering a taboo and Lucozade. But a quick glance at the pumps – two lagers, a cider and an IPA – suggested a little less inventiveness.

Upstairs at the Embassy is a place you go to kill time
Upstairs at the Embassy is a place you go to kill time

I ordered two San Miguels and we took our seats on the edge of an uncomfortable sofa that looked like it had belonged to Buck Rogers in a past life. With no tables to place our drinks I plonked mine on the floor and reminded myself to keep my feet very still.

Scanning the room I counted six tables that weren’t behind the VIP barrier and available for the public, all of them in use. And this is where the problems began.

As the showgoers began making their way to Upstairs the room suddenly began to get very busy, a crowd of predominantly older people unable to get seats, or served quickly.

With a lack of tables I plonked my pint on the floor
With a lack of tables I plonked my pint on the floor

We offered our space to a couple stood beside us but they declined, pointing out the sofa was too low for them to be comfortable.

“I won’t be getting back up,” the man quipped.

A visibly uncomfortable lady in a sparkling red dress gave in and sat herself on the piano stool.

We took our seats on a sofa that looked like it belonged to Buck Rogers in a past life. It was too low for elder patrons to be able to use
We took our seats on a sofa that looked like it belonged to Buck Rogers in a past life. It was too low for elder patrons to be able to use

Sticking three tables there instead of an inanimate instrument would have been a far smarter, and cheaper, move. An observation not lost on anybody in the room.

But hey, the only way is excess.

This is where I should point out I did question whether it was fair or not to review Upstairs, which is not a venue in the traditional sense of this column. But my remit is to be the Secret Drinker and if you have an alcohol licence in Lincolnshire then you’re fair game.

Yes, I understand the reasons for a VIP area, this is a business attempting to maximise profitability. Yes, the place looks good in stills and on the website and I imagine whoever designed this got lots of praise and pretty pictures for their CV. Yes, I’d guess – and this is only a guess – the person who designed this bar wasn’t spending their own money on doing so and the comfort, practicality and income of the place wouldn’t directly affect their future bank balance in any way.

Is this a good venue? No. It’s just not functional for the vast majority of people using it.

Our Secret Drinker is on a journey around the county trying out our drinking establishment. Read more of their reviews here.

If this was a bar that had to entice people in off the street it would be facing a very swift overhaul. But as it’s a theatre bar and the punters have nowhere else to go then sadly it doesn’t have to change, or even care.

As we left the Embassy Theatre to head home we passed livelier, far more rough and ready venues filled with laughter and life, a stark contrast to where I grabbed my pint that night.

But, credit where due, the theatre itself is superb and the show was brilliant.

UPSTAIRS AT THE EMBASSY, GRAND PARADE, SKEGNESS, PE25 2UG

DECOR: The place looks great at first glance, but the sad reality is it’s just not functional. 1/5

DRINK: The San Miguel was about as exotic as the choices got. It wasn’t a particularly great tasting pint either. 2/5

PRICE: At £4.80 I can’t say it was good value for money for a pint, but where else could I go? 2/5

ATMOSPHERE: Flat. Too many uncomfortable faces killing time, frustrated at the lack of seating or stood stone-faced in the queue at the bar which just wasn’t moving very fast. A contrast to the theatre itself where showgoers were up and dancing. 1/5

STAFF: No complaints, they were polite enough despite being rushed off their feet. They have my sympathy as there weren’t enough of them on duty to deal with the ever growing queue. 3/5

What do you think? Where do you think the secret drinker should go next? Post your suggestions in the comments below



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