When I say Mayfair, I’m not talking about that very upmarket bit of London, made famous by Monopoly. I’m talking about the hotel we stayed in every year when I was growing up.
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know the memories The Mayfair holds for me and that I always used to stay in Room 17 with my nana. For this trip, the idea was that I would stay in that room again. To tap into some nostalgia and remember her.
Well. When I finally got through to The Mayfair a few weeks ago to book, the woman on the phone seemed puzzled that I would want Room 17. She offered me a bigger room with a sea view but I explained it had to be 17. No other room would do. After a long conversation, which ended with me persuading her to take my money, I was under the impression that Room 17 would be mine for four nights.
When I turned up today, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The place is being refurbished and it’s in disarray. There’s a mattress in the car park, a bulging skip out front and the pool’s been drained. Builders are banging around the place and it is devoid of guests. I am the only one.
The lovely owner explained to me that Room 17 is noisy and basically uninhabitable, but if I wanted it, I could have it. She took me up to view the room that I had stayed in so many times. My stomach was tight with expectation as we climbed the well-trodden stairs, past the little bathroom on the landing with the same ‘toilet’ sign, past my Grandma and Grandad’s room, past the frosted glass with little boats blown into it, past the full-length mirror that I had admired my fancy dress costumes in every Thursday, and up to the room door. Only it said ‘16’ not ‘17’.
The owner walked straight past to a little room right in the corner of the corridor. ‘No,’ I said, almost too fervently, ‘this is it! This is Room 17.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘it’s the corner room.’ I told her that the room in front of us had always been 17. That sixteen years ago, when I packed my case for the final time, it had been in this very room.
She had prepared the beds in the new room 17. Not the beds where we used to sleep. But she told me I was welcome to look around. I was amazed how familiar it felt. It will be overhauled in a few weeks, but for the time being it looks almost the same.
She gave me a few moments alone to take in the smell, look out over the pool and sit in the bathroom. The bath is barely big enough for a gerbil. I had forgotten that.
I had a good look around and the owners kindly let me take some photos. I must point out that they are doing up the place. Getting it ready for the spring season. So it will probably be restored to its former glory. I took lots of pictures – too many to post here, but I’ve tried to fit a few in below. For now, I am in Room 2. With free rein to work in ‘Room 17’ should the urge arise. It might well do.