Hippodrome Casino, London Review Continued...
Location Map and Nearby Casinos
Layout and outdoor areas
The Hippodrome is huge. It has been created via a £40 million refurbish in 2011 from a building originally opened as a circus variety theatre in 1900, featuring a 100,000 gallon water tank for polar bears, sea lions and even elephants.
The 93,000 square feet of amenities is spread over three floors and house an impressive array of gaming opportunities, a dedicated poker floor, no less than five bars, a cabaret theatre, a high quality restaurant and lounge, and several high-roller and private rooms which can also be hired for private parties.
At the time of review, the Hippodrome boasted 43 tables (with £1 - £25 minimum bets), 20 slots and 110 terminals. You will also always find cash-game Texas Hold’em action on the poker deck at any time of the day, usually one or two tables.
Smoking is obviously not allowed in the casino, but there is a two-tier outdoor smoking (and gaming) area situated on the third floor.
All of the facilities have been well thought out and are a modern design, clean and well looked after.
Atmosphere and amenities
The over-whelming feeling is of space, space and more space interspersed with grandeur and a lot of gaming opportunities. Our only concern was that such a large impressive facility can feel empty and cavernous when there are only a few players in.
We visited on a Saturday night when the place was alive and buzzing but also early on a Tuesday morning when we didn’t quit hear echoes but it was pretty close.
Restaurants and Bars
The main restaurant is the Heliot Restaurant, Bar and Lounge and is situated on the first floor, opening its doors at 5pm daily. You get a good view of the main gaming floor and of the building in general. The lighting is a tad subdued and the tables are fairly well separated so you'll feel like you are in a VIP booth in a club.
The menu has been designed to "take inspiration from the building's heritage", whatever that means! We found it to have a nicely varied offering, with standard British Classics being given a facelift (Fish & Chips is with Whiting not Cod, and Shepherd’s Pie is with goats cheese mash).
The Heliot features a cocktail bar where the floor is decorated with pennies - a nice touch for a casino. It closes at midnight most days and 11pm on Sundays, but you can get food at the other bars 24/7.
Looked nice and clean, as they should do in a newly refurbished casino. The toilets near the main entrance were a bit sticky, just as you’d find in a nightclub - perhaps one of the drawbacks of an open-door policy in a busy place like Leicester Square.
The Hippodrome manager informed us that he employed 213 croupiers, which gives you a feel for the scale of this operation, then followed up by saying he'd like to take on another 5 to 10! All the croupiers we dealt with were polite and informed and not afraid to have a joke or two with the players – that atmosphere then pervades amongst the players themselves and lends itself to a relaxed playing experience. Perhaps the best compliment we could pay is to say they seemed like 'real people' or 'one of us' rather than staff doing a job or haughty dealer automatons.
The bar staff and waiters/waitresses were also friendly and helpful, again not afraid to suggest a different drink (try the Snuggle Rug at the main bar!) or what they thought was tasty on the menu.
Hippodrome Friends is the loyalty programme. You can start earning points immediately without ID (remember it is an open-door casino) with a Red card. You can upgrade to a Gold card by providing photo ID. Hand your card to the croupier/dealer before you play to earn your points. You also earn points on slots, bar and restaurant purchases and theatre tickets.
Points can be exchanged for gifts such as retail vouchers, iPhones, perfumes and even computers in the Gold Room reception area.