Following my visit to the Big Green Bookshop, it was time to check into the hotel. Not any old hotel but one with preraphaelite connections. I have no idea how I found this but John Millais used to live at 83 Gower Street, a residence that is now the Arosfa Hotel. The entrance hall is hung with reproductions of Millais most famous works: Christ in The House of His Parents, Mariana and, of course, Orphelia. It was good to see the real Lizzy. (I had intended to visit her at Highgate Cemetery but the weather was far too dreary and dull.)
I recommend this hotel. The rooms are small but all are ensuite. There’s a beautiful lounge with complimentary tea and coffee and internet access and the breakfast is superb. Last but not least, the price is right!
I shall return. It was the perfect place to take a breather and read a couple of chapters of the book that accompanied me on this trip – Merryn Williams’ examination of the relationships between John Millais, his wife, Effie and her ex-husband, John Ruskin. (Review of Effie, A Victorian Scandal to follow.)
Gower Street has other preraphaelite connections. This is what happened at Number 7.
Across from the hotel is a very large Waterstones. It used to be Dillons when I was at university and I spent lots of money there. For old times sake I went for a browse and I must say it rivals the Waterstones on Sauciehall Street in Glasgow. Nostalgia ruled as I checked out the German literature shelves – so pleased to see Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest centre-shelf so to speak. (It is the best C19th German novel after all!)
As I was leaving, I passed a remainder shelf of NYRB classics and would probably snapped up the lot had it not been a hand-luggage only weekend. So I spent a good half-an-hour deciding which one was going to be mine. It was a toss-up between Daphne Du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now and other Stories and Theodor Storm’s The Rider on The White Horse and Other Stories. I finally decided on the latter for a) old times’ sake and b) I’m collecting Du Maurier in the new Virago editions.
So there we are – two new books and I haven’t even met the other book bloggers yet!