It takes quite a bit to excite the staff of The Lanesborough Hotel, one of London’s more self-consciously luxurious five-star residences. Princes, sultans, presidents, oligarchs and film stars have been coming here ever since the grand but oddly anonymous building on the corner of Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge arose from the ruins of Belgravia’s old St George’s Hospital some 20 years ago, comes a special report from Stephen Fry in the Financial Times Magazine.
I arrive there by taxi one Saturday night and find myself bundled through a tunnel of polite but harassed doormen into a lobby that, for all the discretion and professional sangfroid of the front-of-house staff, fails to suppress a crackle of excitement that fizzes around the interior like electricity. This, I imagine, must have been how the Goring Hotel felt when Kate Middleton came to stay the night before she was transformed into a royal duchess.
I approach the desk, cough politely and murmur, as if it were the kind of remark I might drop into the ears of a concierge every day, “Hello. I’m here to see Lady Gaga.”
As I am sure you know, it is a matter of pride among Hollywood stars that they check into hotels under elaborate and often preposterous aliases. Only those in the know are therefore able to call their rooms or ask to be shown up to see them. Lady Gaga’s people had alerted me to no such code system, and somehow I instinctively knew that the lady was simply too big and too … well … too Gaga, to bother with such nonsense.
Either side of me, as I had hurried through, many in the huge gathering outside the hotel had raised their voices in screams of excitement and their right hands into a kind of frozen claw, a gesture that I had inexpertly attempted to return. The crowd must have guessed why I had come to The Lanesborough and it was only polite for me to acknowledge this by returning their salute. This upraised claw is the worldwide identifier of Gaga fans, or Little Monsters, as they style themselves. I am not embarrassed to call myself – grotesquely over-aged and oversized as I may be – some kind of Little Monster too.
The interview continues -