This morning I woke up in a Harry Potter-themed dungeon in Victoria. No, that’s not the start of a niche erotic novel I’m working on. I spent yesterday evening trying out The Georgian House Hotel’s ‘Wizarding Chambers’ – a duo of family-orientated suites that are decked out like Hogwarts but are totally unofficial.
The suites cost more than £17,000 to put together and were finished last December. Priced at £249 for a one-night stay, they’re not cheap but they are pretty swish.
Among other things, my suite featured: a shower curtain designed to look like an enchanted door, a medieval archway, a ladder, an inkwell, a chalice, a goblet, a lamp made out of rulers, a tissue box holder made out of books, several large cooking pots and a large embroidered banner of a griffin. Plus, a significant number of potion bottles, antler chandeliers, a wooden school desk, two four-poster beds and one Gryffindor logo-emblazoned master bed.
The chambers didn’t cause much of a stir when they opened last year, but things changed earlier this month, when an OMG WTF HARRY POTTER HOTEL article went viral.
Owner Serena von der Heyde told me: ‘Our website visits went from approximately 500 views a day to a peak of 61,000. We’ve nearly sold every available night this year and taken over 100 bookings in the last week.’
Lots of superfans from the US have been fighting for their chance to stay in the chambers. And while there are a good number of families planning visits, there are also lots of grown-ups too.
One guy got in touch to ask whether he could propose to his girlfriend in the rooms. Plus, there are couples and groups of friends trying to book them for mini-breaks. (Sorry suckers, I got there first.)
To get to my suite I had to wander through a normal lobby full of normal people who may or may not have judged me when I asked for the ‘Harry Potter room’ at reception. I was then led through a cupboard under the stairs, down a staircase lined with tea lights and past several not-at-all-terrifying paintings. (See below.)
The easiest way to describe the overall experience is EXPLOSION OF WIZARD. I’m not ashamed to admit that I spent the first 20 minutes of my stay charging around the room singing the Harry Potter movie theme. I then spent the remaining time failing to download ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ on to an iPad (should have probs done that before I got there, dungeons don’t have great wifi).
I also got my friend to read aloud to me from the two books left for us in the room (‘Goblet of Fire’ and ‘Order of the Phoenix’), accidentally listened to the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ soundtrack on Spotify without changing the settings to ‘private’ and took a huge number of Instagram pictures. #voldeLOL. #wheresdobby #cedricdiggoryproblems. It’s the most giddy I’ve been since shit got cray at my year six sleepover.
By midnight, I’d burnt myself out. And with tiredness beating nostalgia, I did start to notice a few flaws with the brilliant, brilliant room. It was significantly chillier than the rest of the hotel and, despite the sprinkling of Gryffindor crests, not that Potterish. (But that’s probably because everything in Harry’s world is trademarked to the max.)
It did look 100 percent spooky in the flickering light of the faux candles I couldn’t quite work out how to turn off, though. And it was pretty cool getting ready for work in a wizard chamber this morning. I mean, have you ever deodorised next to a cauldron?
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By Kate Lloyd