Land of Soap and Glory


To my mind the benchmark of a really good hotel has nothing at all to do with the amount of *****’s it boasts, decent food, or even if there is a plentifully stocked mini bar. No. Of infinite importance to me, and on a purely practical level, it is instead the simple matter of whether the complimentary bar of soap in the en-suite is of adequate size. So many hotels supply soap bars of such diminutive proportions these days that whilst showering, or taking a bath, there’s a serious danger that the tiny bar could be lost internally and never be seen again.

I am delighted to tell you therefore that the soap bars provided here at the hotel (which Pedro and I have been staying in over Christmas) are of ample enough size that there is zero risk of losing the soap during our ablutions if used responsibly.

N.B I would like to be able to fully guarantee the soap bar as a benchmark for a good hotel, but alas the formula is not 100% failsafe. I once stayed in a hotel that had a huge bar of soap by the bath. Unfortunately despite its impressive girth and pretty pink colouring, it also had the previous occupant’s pubic hairs stuck all over it which somewhat took away from my initial glee.

Having spent the past two and a half months getting to grips with acclimatizing ourselves to a new and very different life in Indonesia, coming back to London this Christmas has been a huge treat but also slightly disruptive. Don’t get me wrong, it has been absolutely wonderful to see our loved ones and to catch up with friends but however much we are enjoying life in Jakarta, it has served to remind us of all the things we miss living in the UK.

Wide clean pavements, long walks breathing in relatively fresh air, the ability to safely cross roads without risk of being mown down, strolling through beautiful parks, travelling on buses and tubes, CIDER – Our Christmas sojourn has definitely spoilt us somewhat. It’s an odd feeling going from previously being a London resident, to now being a tourist in ones own city. This experience as a visitor has found me noticing, and appreciating things about London that in the past I’ve taken for granted. With thoughts of Jakarta never far from my mind, I am now looking at London in a whole new light.

Our hotel is in Shepherd Market, Mayfair. Situated in the heart of Central London, Mayfair is within easy (so long as you have stout shoes) walking distance of all the main attractions and the locality is made up of long streets lined with elegant Georgian houses fronted with black railings, old churches and beautifully maintained parks and squares. Mayfair is also home to some of London’s most luxurious hotels, jaw droopingly expensive shops, galleries and opulent restaurants (Johnny Depp spent over £17,000 pounds on a meal for two at the Mirabelle. The wine bill alone was £11,000, so I’d love to know exactly what it was that they ate that cost £6,000 because just the thought of it is giving me indigestion) Staying in this exclusive part of London is like inhabiting a fantasy world as only the super rich can ever afford to rent or buy property here (or eat out) so no surprises then that it is also the most expensive site on the Monopoly Games board.

The area is particularly enchanting at Christmas time. Shops, arcades and hotels have extravagantly decorated window displays and fronts, and as we walk about through the streets and explore the ginnels and passageways, it is all so perfect that we feel like we are on the set of some film or straight out of a novel. Talking of which, Half Moon Street (where our hotel is) is where the fictional PG Wodehouse characters Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves lived – and, if that isn’t an exciting enough thought in itself, just imagine pounding the streets of a place that Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde have all been inspired to write about.

When we are back home in mad, crazy Jakarta, I shall quote to Pedro, a line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice  “We are a long way from Grosvenor Square, are we not, Mr Darcy”

And my friends, like Caroline Bingley and Mr Darcy, we shall indeed be a long, long, way away…

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