A Room with a Tub

by Susan Davidson

I still like to go back to England where I spent the first fifteen years of my life. Every visit reminds me of where I am from. London is not where I was born - Wolverhampton is - but I think of it as my home town and I think of myself not as an ex-pat but as a native who happens to live somewhere else. I love the city's vibe. There is always something new, creative and hip that co-exists with the historic and anachronistic. It's a great mix. There are, however, times -- such as the night I spent at Claridge's, the grande dame of posh hotels in London - when I can't decide whether life is better for a contemporary American or a Brit from another century.

While London certainly has its share of five-star hotels, few can claim as much old world charm as Claridge's, built in 1898. From the doorman's tip of a hat for the ladies to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco décor, the hotel is redolent of good manners and a gentler age. Concessions to the 21st century include permitting cell phones and cigars in the lobby where the walls are lined with black and white photographs of British royalty and ours -- Jackie Kennedy in evening gown and tiara. What caught my eye though was an elevator called the Ladies Lift located near a discreet, side entrance to the hotel.

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