~ PART ONE ~
Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Of course the web site had given nothing away. Hotel Unicus in an almost forgotten corner of Norfolk was presented as:
Welcome to Hotel Unicus !
We are a boutique hotel, specialising in giving our guests the five star treatment with a twist. Each of our sumptuous rooms is unlike the other, each having their own quirky theme. Guests may choose one of the following – Sea-dog, Cupcake, Pumpkin, Nostalgia, Logcabin or Fairyland. Yes, we have only six rooms! This enables us to give you, the valued guest of Hotel Unicus our full attention. The rooms are all doubles since we are an adult only establishment (sorry no children allowed) with its own theme to excite you!
“Interesting…” George murmered. He scrolled further down the page. I continued to read aloud over his shoulder:
We are situated five miles inland from the North Norfolk coast. With an outside swimming pool during the summer season and a high walled garden to relax in any time of the year. We reside in the hamlet of Ternton which due to its near isolation guarantees a holiday free of crowds of other holiday-makers. You won’t find rowdy amusement arcades and nightclubs, or fast food joints here! Instead, mile upon mile of natural beauty is waiting to be discovered by you on our marshlands, which promise the explorer the chance to view rare Tern birds and Knatterjack toads.
“I could do with some peace and quiet,” George muttered. “what with all that fuss going on at work. I could take my binoculars. You could take your camera.”
He scrolled down; I read on:
The only shops you will find here are the post office/village shop – handy for posting those postcards and buying traditional vanilla ice-cream! – and our five hundred year old pub, where you can taste real ale.
“That’s it, we’re going!” George stated.
“Because of the real ale?”
“Because of the traditional vanilla ice-cream.”
“I believe you; others wouldn’t.”
Leave behind your current worries and the modern world…and let us entertain you!
“We are going.” I said. I liked the idea of getting away from it all. Like George I had my own problems.
George clicked the booking link. Another page sprung up.
Another unique aspect of Hotel Unicus is that we don’t disclose the interior of our rooms. The only photographs you will find here will be those from the outside. We believe in the element of surprise, and you will certainly find that here!
“Huh?” George said, waving the mouse cursor over the text. “Doesn’t that sound strange?”
“I think it sounds rather fun. And different.” I had already made up my mind after the words: Leave behind your current worries and the modern world.
I would regret it later.
“Anyway, I thought you wanted to go because of the great ice-cream?”
We stared at the photographs showing Hotel Unicus from the outside. The walled garden showed comfortable seating in shaded and un-shaded areas; six foot tall sunflowers against one brick wall; red roses winding round moss covered statues and curved ironwork doorways; deep blue lavender scenting the pathways. The walled garden led to the outside pool via a wooden door that was painted red. The pool wasn’t anything exciting, just a simple rectangular shape, modest in size, with a few chairs and tables with parasols around it. And a couple of monster Yuccas in terracotta pots. Then there were the photographs of the marshland. The flora and the fauna, and the big Norfolk skies. Lastly, at the very bottom, were two photos of the Hotel Unicus itself.
They were of two different periods of time. Both showing the front of the building. The older photograph – Victorian we guessed – was so dark and smudgy that it was hard to decipher the hotel’s detailing. Comparing it with the other more recent picture, we soon noticed the refurbishments, namely the swimming pool and an extension that seemed like a sunroom. The walled garden had been spectacular: a waist-high sun dial stood central, within a square border of roses, and beyond the roses were lollipop shaped trees and hedges shaped into animals and fairytale characters.
“Do I remember rightly that there is a fairytale themed room?” I asked George.
“You look bewitched my dear.” George chuckled. “A Fairyland theme it was.”
And so we booked the Fairyland room at the Hotel Unicus.
Norfolk is so cut off from the rest of England that we feared it would be awkward getting there. It was. But, to our astonishment, finding the hamlet of Ternton was rather easy despite it not being found on the sat-nav. I read the directions they’d given us over the phone to George, as he drove the camper van along the long winding coastal road.
The hotel was at the top of a slight incline travelling west for two miles. At the base of it was a farm, a handful of white-washed houses, and the post office-cum-village shop we’d heard about on the web site. Somehow we missed the sighting of the pub that Hotel Unicus boasted about. And as far as the eye could see were fields barren of animals and wild marshland.
George fully wound down the old VW van’s window. “Do you hear that?” He said after a while.
I concentrated. It was a little past eleven in the morning but I heard nothing.
“They didn’t lie when they said it was quiet here!” George said.
Then he turned the vehicle in a slow curve to park in front of some trees. Whose shadow engulfed the van. We seemed alone as the gravelled area for parking was empty but for us.
Hotel Unicus loomed over us – with all its three floors and a tall pointed roof like a witch’s hat.
~ To be continued! ~
Photographs and digital manipulation by me, 3rd May 2016, Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
My day out at the Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
Writing prompt: Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Writing inspiration: A strange dream. And a little Hotel California.
What’s a Short Story Series?: A short story written over several parts, around 1,000 words for each part.
Copyright Faith McCord 2016
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide right