Matilda Kshesinskaya holds an open salon near Covent Garden, where the great and good of London's high-brow entertainment world can often be found. It is a fine example of fin de siècle decadence and opulence - like something out of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting - full of smoke from cigarillos and the smell of vermouth and gin. There is a permanent sense of a party going on which is always slowly winding down, but never really ending.
Kshesinskaya herself is small, beautiful, and extremely cold. She is surrounded by various men who hang on her every word and who she clearly despises. She has the look of a Turkish princess, and indeed she is often said to be a descendant of a prince of Tartary. She greats you politely enough, offering her hand - as if expecting you to kneel and kiss it.