There within the walls of St Malo, directly opposite the ancient town hall stands the Hotel de l’Univers. From the moment I stepped through the door I knew that in all the universe I would never find a hotel I could love more.
The discrete back stairs with a wooden banister rail worn so perfectly smooth it made one want to commit indiscretions just for the joy of running your hand along it. The rooms, each with their own little personalities with abandoned fireplaces of marble, suggesting previous incarnations. Floors so appealingly uneven that each step was an adventure. The seemingly abandoned tiny ballroom, deliciously cool and dim, with time alone separating one from the Belle Epoque and the grand piano standing as though the very last vibrations of a salon piece by Debussy or Delibes had just stopped resonating.
The dining room with the last vestiges of Art Nouveau whiplashing its way around the cornices. The charming lounge of paneled wood with hundreds of photographs of little pleasure boats gifted by the owners over the decades, the fading only increasing the romance.
The strangely empty salon filled with ancient armchairs that begged to give repose. And the wonderful lift.
Oh the lift, so narrow and tiny that one patron had changed the maximum number of passengers from 4 to 2 and written “Aiiii!” above the “up” button. How we loved to ride it’s red fabric lined interior, knowing that just behind the rear panels was Narnia.
It may not have suited the traveler who demands hospital like cleanliness or carbon copied comfort. It may not have suited those who demand obsequious staff and gargantuan buffets. It may not have suited those who have lost a sense of adventure after years of privilege and excess. But, it suited me, and it will always live in my mind as the perfect “Hotel of the Universe”.
This is my 100th Post!
If you would like to join me on a walk down memory lane and see some of my other photos then click on the gallery images that take your fancy.
Windmill in Brittany – A lucky snap from a coach companion resulted in this fantastic photo.
As I recall, I took this photo in a tiny ante-chamber at Vaux le Vicomte which turned out to be a 17th Century toilet. As a vulgar tourist remarked nearby… “What a way to go!”
A beautiful warm day in Exmouth, Western Australia…before the shark…
Did Jane Austen take a turn about the room? Of course she did, and so did I, but not before taking this picture of the enticing facade.
The sun just rising on the horizon, the moon and a single star hovering above the makeshift tent we built on the desert island.
I snapped this lucky shot in April in Paris with les Invalides in the background. A wonderful day!
Your Christmas Getaway – Feeling a little down this December? Why not rent Vaux le Vicomte and flee to France. Don’t bother telling your family and friends. You can always claim you were abducted by aliens if they ask any questions.
Voted best facade in Paris 1901, the front door of the building caused scandal when on closer inspection the door clearly represented male “rude bits”.
Oxford through one of the apertures at the top of Magdalen Tower Oxford
Early Morning in Dinan, a charming street waits in readiness to be transformed in to a bustling restaurant strip in spring.
Produced by Nobutaka Shikanai, with sculptured glass by Gabriel Loire, and reliefs by Atsushi Imoto, this 18 metre high tower of stained glass is a wonder of art and engineering.
I shot this after a visit to the Opera. Opulence perfected!
I hope the treasured memories you have in your own mind are as wonderful as those in the British Museum when I took this photo on a summer’s day.