Dear Mummy, we were treated like stars at Hollywood Bowl recently and had the ultimate bowling experience when we visited their new VIP lanes last week. My folks love the thrill and excitement of bowling and when they first started dating (back in the day!) they used to go every Friday night to the alleys. Since I came along they haven’t been as much, however the opportunity came up to review a VIP lane in Basingstoke and they jumped at the chance.
They have never seen anything like this swish lane and there are four at our local bowling alley. Prices start at £4.89 per game and if you book online you can get three games for £10.99. You can bowl on a VIP lane from as little as £1 extra per person per game or £3 extra per person when upgrading your unlimited bowling package! Hollywood bowl are part of AMF Bowling so we expected quality lanes, shoes and balls and we weren’t disappointed. We were warmly greeted by staff and shown to our private, roped off lane. Inside were leather sofas, our own call bell for the hostess and new balls. With thick plush red curtains, a sleek centre console, funky coloured pins and a member of staff on hand to grab us drinks and food we didn’t need to queue at the bar or at the diner for food.
My daddy had bowled in a couple of competitions but he’s a couple of years out of practice, however he thought there wasn’t enough room to get a good walk up on the lanes. We liked the discreet storage area for our belongings however it did encroach on the bowling lane length, so we had to push it back slightly to get a good run up. Maybe some under the seat storage would have solved this problem.
We found ourselves looking around the VIP lane spotting little quirky elements on the wall shelves, like old Hollywood photos, replica awards and 1950’s glamour everywhere. Each lane is overlooked by a Hollywood legend; from Marilyn Monroe to Han Solo, Audrey Hepburn to Elvis. It has a very vintage feel about it and this continues outside the lane as well at Hollywood bowl. From the 1950s style American Diner to the Pool Hall and the Games Arcade it’s not just all about the bowling, it’s a great place to hang out as well.
We enjoyed our lunch in one of the booths at the Diner, but we could have had it at our VIP lane too, but there just wasn’t space on the small table, especially as another group had joined the opposite lane and we had to share the table. For larger parties you would definitely need some more table space. It would have been nice to have a partition for smaller parties but we suppose that if you are booking one of these lanes the likelihood is that you’d take both lanes for a larger group.
The food was good and if you like hotdogs then this place is for you as my mummy had The Boulevard Hotdog and it was the best she’d ever tasted. There were healthy lite bites such as chicken and bacon salads to delicious favourites like burgers and pasta, there’s plenty to tempt those taste buds and keep every appetite happy. My daddy enjoyed nachos, especially the salsa sauce and I munched down on a mini hot dog from the kids menu which has the usual favourites like burgers and chips. We enjoyed milkshakes and cocktails, while Grandma sampled the barista style coffee and a chicken burger & salad which was tasty.
Watch us bowl on the lane and see inside Hollywood Bowl
These VIP lanes would be perfect for date nights as they are very cool and give you just enough privacy, perfect for special occasions like birthdays or works do’s and staff have no problem dressing them up for you. We even saw a kiddies birthday party happening next door. They are lovely shiny new lanes and we really hope people respect these lanes and keep them looking smart.
We were super impressed with the VIP experience and the service from Basingstoke Hollywood Bowl and even though they were busy they couldn’t do enough to accommodate our every need. Perhaps an extra pair of hands on the front desk or a concierge might be an idea to help with queues?! We overheard other customers thanking the team at the desk for a great couple of hours so clearly we weren’t alone in our appreciation. We could have spent longer at the alley playing at the arcades and on the rides while watching the other bowlers. There is something therapeutic about bowling and releasing some of the energy we had on pins. It feels that in today’s entertainment market facilities like this are dying out but it was great to see a busy, thriving centre with everything to offer all ages.
What do you think of these VIP lanes? Would you book?
Love Bella x
Disclaimer: We were offered a VIP experience at Hollywood Bowl Basingstoke in return for an honest review. All thoughts and photos are our own.