Anyone who’s ever flown and has been subjected to the strange alternate reality of airline cuisine – perfect disc-shaped potatoes, geometrically cut meat, etc – will no doubt recall the letter that irate ad exec Oli Beale sent to Virgin head honcho Sir Richard Branson back in January. Oli’s account of his ‘culinary journey of hell’ was the funniest complaint that we at Mr & Mrs Smith have ever seen – well since Giles Coren last took issue with the Times subs’ desk, that is – and we’ve only just stopped laughing at the thought of mashed potatoes ‘passed through the digestive tract of a bird’ and ‘a dessert with peas in it’.
We’ve always loved an erudite, witty writer over here at Smith HQ – as, to be fair, does Sir Richard, who called Beale personally to congratulate him on his prose – so we naturally sought Oli out and sent him off to review The Cooper Square Hotel in New York for us. We weren’t disappointed with the result. Check out some choice extracts below, and read the full review here…
‘They call New York the city that never sleeps. The person that called it that clearly didn’t have one of these beds. This bed was to become a huge part of the trip. I would regularly find myself looking at some of the world’s greatest sights and wishing I were face down in my pillow. Why walk hand in hand across the Brooklyn Bridge with a lover when you can entwine yourself in the feathered embrace of your Egyptian cotton soul mate? The burgers and shoestring fries at The Spotted Pig on West 11th Street are jaw-dribblingly delicious, but why go there when you can eat a perfectly good packet of Doritos from the minibar?’
‘If the Cooper Square Hotel was a kid from school, it would definitely be one of the cool ones. You know the kid that always had the right trainers on and listened to the right bands. It wouldn’t be Ged Hunter (the guy with stubble who didn’t care what the others thought). But, hey, there just aren’t that many Geds out there and he’s probably in rehab now anyway.’
We then sent Oli and his partner in crime on to The Standard NY, also in New York – ‘a great big bastard of a building’ – according to him, where, thanks to a misunderstanding, he managed to convince the manager that he and his Mrs Smith were ‘sex people’, hell bent on voyeurism. Again, check out his wonderful full review here. But for those of you with short attention spans, here are some of our favourite moments…
‘It didn’t matter that the room was small. We kept using the word “pod”. It was a sort of cross between modern Japanese and 1950s European holiday villa. The bathroom was open to the bedroom, and the full view of the city meant you could wave back to Lady Liberty while washing your pits and parts. I’ve always felt men get a better deal with these open showers. We get a seductive, soapy view straight out of a 1970s porn movie. Women get to watch men feverishly scrubbing their crevices and picking pubic hairs out the soap.’
‘At some point during our night out, somebody must have spiked my drink with a drug that made me think it was acceptable for Mrs Smith and I to go into the Hogs and Heifers bar opposite the hotel. It’s the only way I can rationalise that decision. As we walked in, a woman with a megaphone screamed at Mrs Smith to get up on the bar and take her bra off. Behind her hundreds of bras were hung on the wall, suggesting this woman doesn’t take no for an answer. We stayed for about 20 minutes, keeping as low a profile as possible. We finally left after a man with a beard down to his shins walked out the toilet cubicle and deliberately flicked liquid into my face. “Relax,” said Mrs Smith. “It’s only water.” I’d been in that cubicle earlier. There wasn’t a sink.’