Friday, July 16, 2010

Bloomsbury and Bayswater, London

R.G. popped across the vast Atlantic Ocean recently to give a paper at the Jean Rhys conference at King's College. When living in London at the turn-of-the-last-century, Rhys roomed for a time in cheap boarding houses in Bloomsbury, so R.G. decided to really soak up the Rhys atmosphere with her own such room at St. Athans. Turns out, that was excellent thinking. The pictures (first two) look bleak, but St. Athans has a certain charm. The ceilings of the rooms are very high, and the decor is plain but tasteful. What it really has to recommend it is the breakfast, which is full, cooked, English, with what tastes like real coffee. Free internet in the lobby and even a communal computer you can use if you're lucky enough to snag it. R.G.'s room was right on Tavistock, which is a tad busy, but the hotel location is unbeatable, as is the price. Unlike in Paris, London hotels are expensive.

After the conference, R.G. moved to Bayswater for a complete change of place. She picked this area, actually, for The Pavilion Fashion and Rock & Roll Hotel, which, appropriately, draws models and rock stars. If in London one might as well hang out with rock stars, R.G. reasoned. (The same logic could be applied to R.G.'s home base of NYC, but, for R.G., NYC is a real place whereas London remains the stuff of fantasy.) It was a splurge, taken because The Pavilion's decor is amazing. If you like witty excess, as R.G. very much does, this is the place for you. Each room is a whole different world. R.G. and her old chum, H.M., stayed in Funky Zebra, documented here with the photos of red tapestries. Photos, in order, are of entrance way; concierge; Funky Zebra interior and ceiling; and secret, Victorian sitting room that R.G. and H.M. found through a bathroom doorway, as if they were entering Narnia. (R.G. recognizes Narnia was discovered through a wardrobe, but you get the gist. Magical.) R.G. and H.M. clandestinely drank their rose in there one evening, which was lovely.

Speaking of imbibing, The Pavilion needs its own bar. They have a liquor license, evidenced by the room service drinks one may order, so it wouldn't be a stretch. The hotel's location is just okay, between parks Regent's and Hyde, but a bar would make the Pavilion its own destination.

St. Athans Hotel, 20 Tavistock Place,020 7837 9627,, 44 pounds for a single.

The Pavilion, 34-36 Sussex Gardens, 020 7262 0905, 60 pounds for a single, 100 pounds for a double.


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