For reasons which are actually mundane, but which I won’t reveal in order to maintain an air of spurious mystery, I have to visit Birmingham twice a year. Once again this time, I stayed at Jonathan’s, and it is a strange experience. Jonathan’s presents itself as a Victorian “experience”- and it is – but far from some country park setting, it is actually located on an unprepossessing roundabout (is there any other kind?) in a rather down at heel suburb.
So it’s odd to be resident in a room which might have served as Sherlock Holmes’s study – dark maroon wallpaper, mahogony furniture, cushions, knick-knacks and ornaments in abundance – not in Baker Street but in darkest Brum. My room didn’t feature correspondence fixed to the mantlepiece with a knife, but did have a bowler-hatted and union jack-waistcoated Teddy Bear. Possibly that belonged to Watson…
Apart from its intense Victoriana, Jonathan’s is quirky because of its system of naming rather than numbering rooms. I was in Whiteheath. The labyrinthine interior is navigated by means of coloured lines on the ceiling which correspond to the tube map design on the “passport” they give you when you check in. It is actually quite good fun, but the drawback is the location. For my purposes, it’s fine – it’s a few minutes’ drive from where I need to be – but it seems odd where it is. You expect a Travel Lodge and you get number 221b.

CC BY-SA 4.0 A real pea-souper, and no mistake, guv’nor… by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.