Leading article: Room with a view

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Inspiration is elusive, often sought, not so often found. Robert the Bruce gained his from a spider, Archimedes in the bath. Some look for it by staring at a blank screen, page, or wall. Others travel in the footsteps of the masters, hoping to be moved to emulation by the combination of spirit and place.

Now a special opportunity is to be available at London's Savoy Hotel, where guests will stay in the Monet Suite, from where the great man produced some of his paintings of the Thames, and be given expert tuition in the art of the easel, as well as, among other things, Monet cocktails in the American Bar.

The Savoy reports considerable interest, but I'm not sure I will be going. Associating yourself with Monet might impose an initimidating burden; I would prefer somewhere that has played host to, say, the amiable deftness of Rolf Harris.

Still, if it's vicarious creativity you're after, hotels are the place. Very few then extant, for example, didn't have Dickens staying in them. The Savoy also boasts Whistler and Warhol. Bennett wrote Imperial Palace there, and Wilde, in Reading Gaol, wistfully recalled the turtle soup.

Vivaldi composed where the Metropole stands in Venice, Wagner wrote part of Parsifal in the Palazzo Sasso, Amalfi, Oscar Hammerstein was seized by the lyrics of "Edelweiss" in the Ritz-Carlton, Boston, and John Cleese came up with Fawlty Towers in the Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay.

Another word of caution, though. I have spent the night at The Bell Hotel, Thetford, where the cast of Dad's Army used to stay, and was little changed by the experience.

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