Fifty Shades of Away Grey


Why would you paint a hotel battleship grey, inside and out; isn’t the idea to attract guests and customers not make them feel as if they are in prison? Perhaps the owners of The Swan, Alton, Hampshire got a job lot of grey paint.

Our two nights away in Hampshire started off in sunshine. Part of the plan ( the main part ) was to use up our tickets for Jane Austen’s house, the tickets lasted a year and we had only a few days left. If you ever buy tickets for any place and are delighted you have a whole year to revisit, it is guaranteed you will never return; even if you live in the same country, even if you have not been kidnapped for a year or overcome with disasters, you will not return. As the sunshine disappeared and the day became overcast and grey Cyberspouse asked if I had remembered the tickets. I hadn’t. Never mind, we would buy new tickets and make a contribution to a national and literary treasure.


By the time we reached Alton the sky was heavy and grey and matched the hotel, this was our first view from the car park. Inside, all the decor was shades of grey, brightened only by a gloomy tartan carpet and pictures and lights. However, the staff were friendly and cheerful.


Our room had a little sitting room with a small television screen and a tiny bedroom with a large TV screen. We were just in time to watch the Oxford Cambridge boat race, but the big screen would not work, lucky we had two TVs. This little sitting room could have been cosy, less like a prison cell,  in another colour scheme with better views,


On the way out to explore we reported the broken television. When we returned they were just about to fix it; the second chap seemed to know what he was doing and after ripping it off the wall and repeated trips back and forth it was fixed.

When we went down for dinner the TV fixer showed us to our table. In fact he was on duty the whole time we were there, at the desk and everywhere and checked us out when we left.

Breakfast was okay, with orders freshly cooked, but an uninspiring breakfast bar with flasks for tea and coffee. On the second morning I asked if I could have a tea pot and that is what I got, no cup, no milk no extra hot water, back to the breakfast bar for that.

Jane Austen perhaps visited The Swan

..First mentioned in a rental document in 1499, the Swan hotel is an iconic building, set in the old market town of Alton. A tavern and hostelry, it was listed in 1674 as having 18 chambers, a parlour, kitchen, brewhouse, malthouse, old kitchen, and wine and beer cellars. It was further developed in 1777 to become the coaching inn you see today. The Swan would have been well known to famous local residents; author Jane Austen and naturalist Gilbert White. 


Yes we did get to Chawton to visit Jane again and now we have a year’s tickets for her cottage and The Big House. The weather remained unremittingly grey for our stay, but we enjoyed our visit which you can read about next week. In the meantime here are some mellow and misty pictures of Chawton at my website.

Read about last year’s visit here.

What is the worst colour hotel you have been to? We once stayed at an Edinburgh hotel which was literally all tartan, we were definitely plaid out by the end of our visit. Candy pink would be too sickly, what colour would you paint a hotel?


15 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Away Grey

  1. In 2002 my wife and I stayed in eight B&Bs while traveling in England and Scotland. My favorite was in Exeter because everything was so green. Oban was nice too; we visited the Isle of Mull and Tobermory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes, green, the colour of your blog, no wonder you liked the Exeter hotel. I enjoyed Oban, especially crossing to Mull, then Iona on the Caledonian MacBraine ferries.


  3. Beige. I don’t even understand why it exists. In the U.S., positively anemic neutrals were all the rage for some 15 years. Beige walls, carpets, upholstery and on and on. It will take at least another 20 years to work it out of our decor system. Candy pink would be good in Florida. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beige is the colour of waistcoasts with many useful pockets worn by the more mature British chap – to be avoided at all costs if you want to stay young! There was also the popular indoor paint colour, magnolia, goes with any soft furnishings, but to be painted over at the earliest opportunity…


  4. The hotels in South Africa are far more plain as regards to colours compared to the UK, Janet. I think it might be because the UK hotels are older and some still have the vivid colour carpet mixes from the past. In SA carpets and curtains are plain colours and not patterned.

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    1. Hello Robbie. Wetherspoons pubs are a huge chain where you are guaranteed cheap coffee, a drink and reasonable food; you can hang out all day and evening with your children or friends. Many of them are in rescued buildings, some of them wonderful, which is why our hobby is finding them in any new place we visit. They also boast that every single one of their buildings has a different pattern carpet to match the theme of the building!


  5. We get locals passes for practically everything in Cornwall, which is great, but with so many places to go how often can one make return visits! (I’ve just renewed our Tate St Ives passes…. We WILL use them. And if not, well I’ve made a contribution to a worthy institution… Sound familiar?)

    Grey is of course, a very fashionable colour for the modern chic hotel. I’m not at all convinced that it works for anything with character. Grey is guaranteed to denude the characterful hotel of any character whatsoever.

    But the trials of this short break have made for a great account. You’ve made me smile with this, Janet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sandra. When we were in St. Ives we assumed the Tate would be free; because we always wander into Tate Modern for free when we’re in London and into the Turner Contemporary for free when we’re visiting the Margate branch of the family! But I’m glad the locals get passes.Yes grey is fashionable, I wonder what the next trend will be.

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  6. What a shame they haven’t done more with such potential in the building. I think the B+Bs of yesteryear were pretty bad, nylontastic pink florals, frilly valances. Though it’s oddly cheering to see a Corby trouser press – does anyone actually use them?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like a pale yellow for both exteriors and interiors. Yellow with grey and white trim (like my house, coincidentally). Large expanses of tartan are ghastly! Terra cotta is a good choice too. Warm but not pushy.

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