Day 33 – the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London

What is quintessentially British?

The Bentley motor car? Dark pubs with high back leather seats? A Vesper martini? Trippy remixes of Brit-bands like Garbage? The word ‘quintessentially’?

Last night, I experienced all of the above (except the word ‘quintessentially’) as I stepped out into the mid-winter London air, headed to Mayfair and stepped back in time. I used to work at the Millennium 20 years ago, back when I had hair (a bit foppish, not unlike Hugh Grant I like to think. Don’t laugh, I’ve got the photos to prove it). I was a rocker then – or a ‘popper’ more like, the band I was in was more Duran Duran than Bruce Springsteen – and I worked at the Millennium to make ends meet. Those gigs didn’t pay well, from memory. I lived like this for just shy of two years, pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-restaurant, super-stardom just around the corner, the world was my oyster. If it all sounds hopelessly romantic, it was, and so there really was no other place for me to go to recapture just a bit of those glory days and set to work on Roger Spoffin.

It hasn’t changed. Mayfair is renowned for its ‘Gentlemans’ hotels. Discrete. Low key. These were what hotels were like before Conrad Hilton began constructing the huge complexes we know today. The Dorchester. Claridges. The Connaught. 200 rooms in these charming places is considered large.

Being late on a Sunday, it was quiet. Only three or four others in the bar. Grosvenor Square was deserted. It was so easy. For the next few hours I sipped my Vesper and slipped into Roger’s world. The scene I was writing was in London 100 years earlier – almost to the month. Not far away from where I sat either (I’ll offer no spoilers here). And as the hours passed, I couldn’t help but think Grosvenor Square, and the Millennium Hotel too, must have barely changed at all over those 100 years.

Today’s word count: 1054

Word count to date: 78,098

PS I should add, earlier in the day we had lunch with one of my former bandmates and his family. After lunch he showed me his studio and just by chance (or destiny, perhaps) he had saved a recent clip of a band. Duran Duran, no less – playing live on ITV earlier in the year. The song finished and we both stood in silence. When 20 years of emotion hits you, there’s very little you can say.

  • The Millennium – on the left – at Midnight.

  • WIP and Vesper.

  • The bar at the Millennium.

  • The beautiful lobby (with Christmas tree)

  • Britannia etched into the glass.

  • Mayfair phone box.

  • Mayfair auto.