Story of a Hotel Room

By Alison October 8, 2006 4 Comments 4 Min Read


Thinking we were safe- insanity!
We went in to make love. All the same
Idiots to trust the little hotel bedroom.
Then in the gloom…
..And who does not know that pair of shutters
With the awkward hook on them
All screeching whispers? Very well then, in the gloom
We set about aquiring one another
Urgently! But on a temporary basis
Only as guests- just guests of one anothers senses.

But idiots to feel so safe you hold back  nothing
Because the bed of cold, electric linen
Happens to be illicit…
To make love as well as that is ruinous.
Londoner, Parisian, someone should have warned us
That without permanent intentions
You have absolutely no  protection
-If the act is clean, authentic, sumptuous
The concurring deep love of the heart
Follows the naked work, profoundly moved by it.

Rosemary Tonks.

People forget who they are in hotels. They run down anonymous corridors laughing loudly and fall against each other at the door into their room. They kiss in lifts. Stack their real lives neatly on a tray and hope the maid will take them away. Take long luxurious baths and naps punctuated by fumblings in the dark.  Feel the urge to sew on a button or two. Consider reading the Gideon, but choose instead to watch something on tv, they wouldn’t consider watching at home.

Sometimes they cry. Ear shattering sobs muffled by sound proofed walls and the gentle thud of fire doors. They forget who they are or pretend to be someone they are not. Make promises and tell lies. They brew teeny cups of tea, and break into little plastic packs of biscuits and wish there was real milk in the mini bar instead of gin and toblerones. They make love. Over and over. Half aware of the people in the rooms next to theirs, and half certain that the rest of the world has ceased to exist. They stain sheets they will not have to clean,  but leave gold coins  in the ashtray for those burdened with the task. Steal toiletries and line their shoes up neatly under the desk. Experience the kind of loneliness unique to such places and revel in the joy of being,  at least for a night, unfound.

I like hotel rooms. There is a part of me that aches to live my life in one. Not the shabby little chenille lined ones you find in guest houses, nor the faded grandeur of  country house hotel rooms. But the calm security of the large anonymous city hotel. Where no-one can find you and there is the empty thrill of occasion. Sex, business, theatre or weddings. Molten Brown shampoo and silly shower hats. Thick towels and complimentary bathrobes. Fabulous lighting systems and a sense of ease you cannot find at home because no where else is  so little demanded of you…

It is , I think, a question of space to just be. And yes, I realise that it is confusing: that my urge to live in a place so at odds with my own personal aesthetic makes me a bundle of contradictions. That my constant desire to ornament my lifes’ surfaces is utterly denied in the blandness of a rented room and yet the fact remains that it is in such places I find the kind of  solace bizarrely and serenely satisfying to a part of my soul I frequently deny.

We vintage housekeepers talk a lot about authenticity. We pile our shelves with memories and tell ourselves we are sharing our story with those we choose to invite into our home. We create fantastical displays, altars to our soul and learn to navigate the chaos of too many dreams on a daily basis. We battle with housework. Torture ourselves with the effort of establishing routine and yet all too often deny ourselves the calm offered by anonimity, by minimalist decor and empty space in which to dream. Admitting to liking the thought of empty space is to the Vintage Housekeeper  akin to admitting to an addiction to crack cocaine.

We tie ourselves in knots creating beauty. And forget that form should always follow function. That life is easy in a hotel room because every task has been thought through to the letter. Because the walls aren’t papered in our personal history. Because the shelves and drawers are empty: quietly waiting to be filled , and there is no need to root through painful nonsense to get to what we need. There is time and space and surface on which to re-invent ourselves. To concentrate on pleasures we forget to enjoy at home because our minds are too busy in the battle to forget our yesterdays or plan our tomorrows. Responsibilities that get in the way of truly living well.

Perhaps I am alone. Perhaps I am the only one not suffocated by dry air and claustraphobia. The only one not scared by who I become when I do not have the fancy accroutements and tchoickes I am ususally drowning in to disguise who I really am.

I only know this: I like my reflection in the amber tint of hotel mirrors. I fall in love there. Somewhere I am who I’m not. Somewhere I am never more true.


  1. Annabelle says:

    Come to think of it; the amber tint of hotel mirrors is the only time I love my reflection. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t show all my flaws.
    I’m totally liberated and free from the conventional life that I normally lead when I’m well hidden behind a “Please do not disturb sign”. Expectations and responsibilities vanish for a moment in time in a secluded room knowing quite well that probably the chances of being discovered are rare. In the secrecy and solitude of this room we can be lost in a world of our own dreams and make love endlessly.
    Oh Alison, you touched a nerve in me. I long so much to have that secret get away with my Paramour {in the make believe sense} really my husband and act like we are nineteen all over again.
    Commuting is a destroyer of intimacy. I love my children dearly but I think one needs time to rejuvenate. I believe that this is what everyone needs on occasion, to ultimately be in their own. After all we are not only wives, mothers and housekeepers but also the girl of our sweetheart’s dreams.

  2. I like hotels very much. I have been in quite a lot all over the years and I think, each time I go to one, I like it the same way I did 18 years ago, the first time I went to one with my husband, when we married.

  3. Karla Neese says:

    I love hotel rooms as well, for many of the same reasons.
    You've awakened my secret plan hatching side. My husband's birthday is in November. I see a hotel room in our future!

  4. Kimberly Solomon says:

    I read "A Necklace of Kisses" by Francesca Lia Block. Weetzie Bat is now a forty year old woman and her kids are grown up. She is having trouble with her lover and goes to stay in a hotel to figure things out. Very magical, very beautiful. I think you would love this book.

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