We first realised that there might be something special about Room 302 where we were staying at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate when ten minutes after checking into our room a tour bus full of ladies from a WI tried to get into our room to have a look at it. Most apologetic when they realised Mr B was making use of the free wi-fi whilst lying on the bed and I was sitting at my computer finishing off the working week.
“They show people round it”
Somebody told us in a local pub a few days later. We then realised that maybe we should have chased after them and said it was fine rather than just looking at them slightly bemused. .
“It’s Tracey Emin’s room when she stays”.
Thankfully it was not her famous bed.
It is a four poster bed though and needed a step to get up on to it.
The room is more than just a room, it is suite and the window above is in the lounge area and gives you a view out on to the bowling greens and the sea beyond. I could have sat there for hours. Resplendent on the chaise longue. I don’t think I have done resplendent before.
I wanted to share the window with you on Window Wednesday this week as it was just so pretty. But then I want to also tell you about the hotel. It really is something else and I am not entirely sure where to start! Probably with Jane, the lovely lady who owns it. You can’t know the Walpole and not know Jane. Jane clearly hasn’t owned the hotel all its life, it was built in 1914, but she knows everything about it and is doing her damndest to keep the history alive whilst also providing good old fashioned hospitality.
The hotel is, technically, only two stars due to the restrictions of the rating system I would think, rather than as any indication of the hotel lacking anything substantial. All the staff were super efficient, the food was fabulous, the water hot, towels plenty and the bed fabulous. You can hire the ballroom for a wedding, play snooker in the basement, bring your dog if you want to, and step out of the front door and be on the beach in three minutes.
Daft things make me love it like there being stacks of plug sockets (charging phones, cameras, laptops and using a hairdryer can be a nightmare in most hotels). Teapots that actually pour hot tea into your cup and not all over your lap or the table. Room keys that are room keys on a long solid fob, not plastic cards. That you leave at reception as you go out for the day.
When you get back from your day wandering around Margate you can also wander the corridors of the hotel and be a part of the living museum before you head to bed.
It was this that got the hotel, and Jane, on the Channel 5 show “The Hotel Inspector”. I can see why Alex Polizzi didn’t like the idea of a hornet’s nest in a cage in a hotel corridor but I think she is missing the point. The point being that there doesn’t need to be a point. This is a museum. And Jane’s lifes work. Her passion. I don’t know that I have ever met anybody as passionate about a hotel before.
It is because of Jane that the hotel is now also the base of an avant garde Parisian hairdresser called Jerome who closed up shop in Spitalfields and relocated to Margate a few years ago. He now has a salon, big enough for one client, on the top floor of the hotel. When guests, complete with rollers and foils, had to keep travelling in the lift down to the basement to use the loo, Jane and her team decided to convert two small disused bathrooms into a cloakroom for Jerome’s clients (complete with a shower accessible for disabled hotel guests too).
Everywhere you wander there are either exhibits on the walls, or tucked away in rooms with doors ajar (I did also think there was an exhibit on the floor and leaned forward for a better look and then realised it was left over room service waiting to be collected)
The walls in the restaurant and on every corridor feature some of the 205 framed napkins, or “textile art”. Done by everybody from a 6 3/4 year old boy to a couple in their 80s, to Tracey Emin to an Oscar winning Hollywood movie director. They feature a thought from each person on what they find fabulous about the hotel. Some are printed, some are drawn, some are embroided. All are done with love and sent to Jane for framing and hanging on the walls.
This one really caught our attention, in the restaurant it was done by some ladies from Bletchley Park, can you work out what it says?
It really isn’t like any other hotel I have ever stayed in. You feel that you are part of something special when you visit, that you are part of the hotel’s history and not just another bum on a bed for the night. In fact Jane insists that you sign the visitors book so that you are officially part of the history (they have the books going back to 1929).
If you are staying Margate you really shouldn’t think about staying anywhere else.
WindowWednesday is my weekly look through a window, at a window, from a window. I have a thing about windows and their ability to naturally frame a photo.