Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Russia House - Another location "bagged"

As the Russian saying goes "It's better to see once than hear about a hundred times" - Лучше один раз увидеть, чем сто раз услышать (http://blog.therussiahouse.net/2013/07/its-better-to-see-once-than-hear.html), so with that in mind, I set off to bag another location used in the film The Russia House.

In the opening scene of the film, Michelle Pfeiffer's character, Katya Orlova, is seen walking across Red Square then onwards to the Hotel National opposite where she is attending an audio book fare. The scene showing the exterior of the hotel then its foyer and staircase were filmed on location in Moscow - at the Hotel National; but the book fair scene was actually filmed in St Ermin's hotel in London.

Last week, I was on a course in London and was staying in a hotel nearby in Victoria, and I thought: what an execellent opportunity to visit that hotel and see if I can get into that room.  So, I checked in to my hotel, unpacked my bags, then headed off to find St Ermin's hotel, which was a short walk away and close to St James's tube station.

When I got to the hotel, I wasn't sure where exactly the room would be, but on the hotel's website, it appears to be a dining room. With that in mind, I headed for the hotel's dining room / bar / restaurant in the wing to the right of the entrance.  It was clear that I was in the wrong location, so I headed back to the foyer.  I then spotted a corridoor, leading to some bedrooms, but along which I noticed that there were some large doors leading to a darkened room, so I decided to investigate.

This was it.  Smaller than it appeared in the film, and set up for a business presentation, nevertheless I was in the room where the book fair scene took place.  In the semi-darkness, I stood between the columns where the Abercrombie & Blair stand would have been, shut my eyes, caressed the columns and just breathed in the scene- bringing it to life in my imagination, and immersed myself in the scene.

-do you know Mr Bartholomew Scott Blair?
- Barley, sure I know Barley.  The old house of Abercrombie & Blair, publishers - drink or sober, a gent, one of the best.


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