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Go fetch!

We take the stress out Christmas shopping around the Big Dig by testing out Room's pioneering concierge service while we are waited on hand and foot

Published on January 14th 2010.


Go fetch!

There are two things to loathe about Christmas: Standing in Argos and standing in HMV.

And unless you have taken the ethical route this Yuletide and have bought your loved one an Oxfam-style alternative gift - badly needed public sanitation facilities, perhaps, so the desperate masses no longer have to sneak into McDonald's in Church Street, or essential drugs for the population of Walton Prison – it is a given. You will queue up and you will lug unfeasibly large packages around and around the entire perimeter of the Paradise Project, looking for a way out of the city centre, until you, and your back, snap.

So when Room offered to elevate me away from all this messy carry-on and sit me down in their large and airy Castle Street restaurant, to while away those vital shopping hours doing, well, not much, it was hard to say no.

They would take a list of items from me and embark on all the running around town. Meanwhile I would sit back, do lunch, and they would drop a mountain of shopping bags at my feet as I stretched and yawned, sated, an hour or so later.That's the theory behind Room's exclusive concierge service which is is available to all customers every day, from midday, until Christmas Eve.

Room has actually teamed up with City Servants for the promotion, a Liverpool firm of fetchers and carriers who promise to do all the thinking for you, too, should you need it.

So armed with my five-year-old's letter to Santa, I sat down with City Servant Dean and went through the possibilities:

Number one: “A real cat?” Nah, it would only jump out of the shopping bag and cause untold mayhem and misery, and that's before we'd have even got it on the 86.

Number two: ”Snow?” Hmmm.

Numbers three to 10: Dr Who Tardis/Dalek/Cyberman/DVD/Dr Who Tardis/Dalek/Cyberman/DVD.

Numbers 11 and 12: Chicken Little (no, not a dish on the Room menu) and Ice Age II DVDs.

Ok, so the kid is Dr Who obsessed. So he likes Ice Age II, even though I've told him and told him that it marked the death or narrative cinema (well, according to Mark Kermode). Who am I to argue?

But I did mean what I said about Argos and HMV so Dean was duly despatched.

Lunch at Room, meanwhile was a treat with its twisty take on British favourite eats. The duck spring rolls and tasty, middle eastern skewered beef actually did make me forget why I was there as I perched next to a happy table of Phil Thompson and guests.

Dean comes up with the goods

When Dean breathlessly turned up some time later it all made sense. His eyes were glazed, his face pallid. He had Chicken Little, he had Ice Age II. He had queued in HMV “It was like a zoo”, he muttered. But best of all he had an enormous box with a huge working (ah, all right, not literally) Tardis inside, from Argos, which would have meant going straight home immediately.

Phil Thompson's lot were impressed anyway, at least by the Tardis, especially when they learned that it was 50 times the size once you got it out of the box.Dean told me the damage, handed me the receipts and I gave him the plastic. There is a fee for all this - £3 per shop visited and 3 percent of the total value of goods bought – but with a bit of canny planning, and you do need to plan this type of excursion – it could well be worth it.

There is another way around this: Do all your shopping on the internet like me last year and enjoy travelling to unmarked courier units on Knowsley Industrial Estate in the dark, with a clutch of missed delivery notes on Christmas Eve.“Don't be daft, we've got a van. We can get those for you as well,” reveals Dean.Now that's service. Do you think he'll do chimneys and reindeers too?

To find out more, call Room, 62 Castle Street, Liverpool. 0151 258 1122.

Angie Sammons

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