I want to live in a hotel, just like Eloise, who lives in the Plaza and who is “not yet pretty but is already a person”.
Most people can’t wait to leave the hotel and go back to their beds. Having slept in very uncomfortable beds (and its inferior cousin, the futon) for many years, my favorite part of traveling is getting to sleep in a hotel bed. All hotel rooms smell the same, with their attempts to wipe the memories of the other people who were there away. When I first get to a hotel room, I like to find the bible, spread out all my stuff, get some ice and water and read the room service menu.
But it’s not just the rooms that turn me on. I also love hotel bars, a cross section of people who shouldn’t be in the same place, but are. And the lobbies! It’s like going into someone’s house and being allowed to sit in their living room. No one can bother you in a hotel lobby. You don’t have to buy anything or do anything. I’ve done some of my best writing (and freaking out) in hotel lobbies while sports silently plays somewhere and buttoned up waiters bring me water after water.
The Driskill Hotel in Austin is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It’s eerily out of place on Brazos street, which is full of bars, pedi-cabs and street sausage vendors. And then all of a sudden there’s this gorgeous Southern mansion right on the corner. Built in 1886, the Driskill is believed to be haunted by a few ghosts, including its namesake Colonel Driskill who likes to turn bathroom lights on and off.
Upscale hotel lobbies are a wonderful place to take refuge from bustling downtown centers. In San Francisco, I had two hotel lobbies I liked to loiter in: the Westin on 3rd and the sexiest place on earth, the St Regis Hotel. Typically I am an old school dork who likes everything to be either art-deco or pre-war, but the St Regis makes me happy in a way typically reserved for .. well, for almost nothing. The extremely expensive bar offers expertly made drinks served by waitresses in asexual black uniforms and top notch escort watching. Last but not certainly least, the touch activated fireplace is a fun way to freak out your date or make you feel like you are evading some kind of fire inspired death.
The hotel Abba in Amsterdam is so budget they only have twin beds. This leads to you almost falling in between them in the middle of a hash induced make out session. The other thing about budget European accomodation is you don’t get your own bathroom. We shared it with one other room, who luckily we never saw and who were apparently able to hold their space cakes. It was a huge bathroom with almost no ventilation and I spent about half an hour staring at the blue tiles in the shower after eating half a box of mushrooms. The window in our room faced a giant courtyard with different tiny Dutch apartments to look into, with a band of roving cats that would jump from balcony to balcony. That came in handy as well, when you’re stoned and need to look at something. I would recommend the Hotel Abba if you are traveling cheaply in Europe but really hate people (hostelling requires too much interaction).
I could write an entire book about hotels in Vegas (don’t dare me because I will). I love all the hotels on the Strip except for Imperial Palace, where no one should stay or enter, ever. For a group? The Venetian. For hot sex in the most comfortable bed you will ever sleep or roll around in? The Wynn. You want to drink out of a medieval chalice and watch brides drink 40s while wearing stonewashed cut offs and a cheap veil they bought at Claire’s? Excalibur. The hottest waitress uniforms are at Caesar’s Palace (togas). If you’re going to stay downtown because you have some kind of problem with things that are nice, the Golden Nugget, with a shark tank by the pool is white trash perfection. The pina colada they serve at the pool bar is spectacular and actually is kind of spicy. A mixologist after my pretentious little heart.
The worst hotel I stayed at was also in Amsterdam, in Vondelpark. The elevator smelled like there were a million dead rats in the wall and the TV that night would show one channel, which was playing the Demi Moore movie Striptease. I’m sure you can understand why I hold it as the worst hotel stay ever. The travelodge in San Jose was also a terrible place, but at some point I started to feel better and this happened:
Hotels are possibility and secrets and intrigue. It’s your pretend home so you can have a pretend self, too. Or it’s where you can finally be the person you’ve always wanted to be. You can eat in bed and not worry about cleaning it up. You can order porn and no one will know. Best of all, it’s one of the few places in life where it’s socially acceptable to tell everyone to stay the hell out of your room with a cute little sign to hang on the door. At worst, hotels are sad places where you will end up covered in your own vomit and tears. Whatever it is, it’s not the same old. It’s not the usual. You’ll have a story to tell. And sometimes, that’s the best we can hope for.
[All images belong to the author, except for the first, which belongs to Amazon]