When you think of Bayswater you think of Hyde Park. Whiteley’s. That little Spanish cafe that does the tasty chorizo scramble with a big mug of tea just off Westbourne Grove:
Well at least that is what I think of. I think of a glorious week just over 4 years ago when DW and I moved into our final flat share before heading stateside. We lived on Gloucester Terrace. Which looks like this:
And the view out our sublet window was this:
(photos above courtesy of DH)
I was no longer working, so every morning I got up, had a leisurely breakfast, wandered up to Queensway to grab a latte and a croissant from a little French patisserie and a newspaper, ideally one of the free ones, from the tube station, on my way to Hyde Park where I’d sit in the beautiful August weather and just lounge, people watch and drink my eventually cold latte.
I then left DW here for a month while I went to LA and sorted out living situations, cars and other down to earth, non-Bayswater stuff, always looking back on that time as a golden age of sorts.
Now when I think of Bayswater, I think of this:
See how absolutely lame that photo is? The feathered edges? The colour correction? Well that’s covering up a horrid, dirty hotel that says it has studios but really has tired rooms with a “kitchenette” that consists of a microwave and a kettle which has to sit on the floor because the cord isn’t long enough to put it on the “kitchenette” cabinet – which by the way was moldy due to a leaky refrigerator inside the “kitchenette” cabinet. The cutlery was not in a drawer, but just sitting on a shelf and there was no room to do any cooking.
The duvet on the bed looked like it’d never been cleaned. The towels folded up on the bed were falling apart – again, old and tired. There was no info on how to use anything in the room. Including where the bloody heater was.
The heater was this electric thing on the wall hidden behind a Klimt artwork. You know the one. It was like artwork – but hiding a heater. At a press of a button it opened up. It was supposed to expel heat. To top it all off it was over where there might have once been a working fireplace but someone in their infinite wisdom blocked it up. Have I mentioned my dislike for Klimt? And now he was keeping me from being warm? I hate that guy.
Next to that was this full size bar drinks cabinet looking thing that, as it turns out, was a clothes dryer. Need I mention that this hotel had no clothes washing facility? Was I to do my washing in the small bathroom sink and then dry them in something that looked like it should be storing bottles of Corona in a beach bar somewhere in Mexico?
And the bathroom. I don’t know the last time it was cleaned, but when I sat on the couch and looked into the room, it looked like someone had been killed in there. The tiled walls were splashed with something, I don’t even want to know what, and it chilled me to the bone. I never felt more like this guy in my life:
The walls were scuffed. There was construction going on across the street. Everything felt dirty and scruffy. And we just moved 6000 miles, put our house on the market, gave up our Mini (The Duchess) and VW (Mathilde) and our comfy couch (Couch) for this?
First we called down to the receptionist to ask how the heating works – after all we’d just spent 3 glorious nights in the chilliest of chilly Leicestershire, is asking for a little warmth too much to, um, ask?
Apparently so. The young man she sent up told us that the little snowflake sign on the remote meant “Winter” and not “Cold”. He couldn’t make the heat work either. And then he explained the rickety clothes dryer.
“It’s to dry your clothes.”
Then we went downstairs and asked for a better room. We were supposed to spend 2 weeks in a room without a kitchen, hell, without even a proper “kitchenette” like we were told there would be. After spending almost 2 months without a working kitchen and living off microwaved food, I think I earned the right for a hot plate.
The room was not available until the next night, and even though we were free to take a look at it, our room…
“really was the best room in the hotel,” says the girl on reception.
And so we decided to check out. Then the owner of the hotel came up and started giving us shit! Actually up in it, so to speak, telling us we should go to the Dorchester if we didn’t like his hotel. If only we could afford the Dorchester:
After he started to get more irate, I told him to take it up with DW’s company, not us. We didn’t book the place. And yes, we were leaving. He shut up and left us to leave – which we did. And we went here instead:
I’ve never felt more happily spoiled in my life. At the Charlotte Street Hotel it was warm, comfortable and friendly. Everyone was helpful, smiley and the restaurant excellent. There was a man who would bring us up a pot of hot water so we could make our Lemsips (cold medicine teas) because we were both sick, DW much worse than I. And best of all? He didn’t wait around for a tip.
Oh, and this is what we got to see out of our warm, well sealed, double glazed window:
The BT Tower! Right in the centre of town, a beacon of things to come! Oh joy of joys! No longer were we looking out our window at a building site. No longer were we freezing our butts off in a shabby Bayswater shit-hole.
We spent four nights living in this little piece of Fitzrovia luxury, having our own London holiday before real life set in. It may have been expensive but getting over our jet lag in a place like this was totally worth every penny. Everything was perfect.
Until we started looking for a flat.
And that is what we will talk about in the next chapter of our story that all started in Bayswater.