28 November 2008

To escape from it all...

I will admit it: when I lived in New York, when I was having a particularly blue day and some plumbing problems with my apartment (a constant onslaught of rushing water sounds that grated on my last strand of sanity), I booked myself a hotel room at the Algonquin Hotel.  I was with Exbf at the time, but his Murray Hill apartment-- much as I loved it-- would not have been the source of solace, the tool of prevention for an impending nervous breakdown, that I needed.  Also, all it takes is one particularly emotional girl and one helpless-feeling guy to turn a beautiful relationship upside-down.  No, it was the Algonquin for me.  They were having a ridiculously cheap deal online, and I figured that it was high time that I took care of myself.
There is something about a hotel room that calms the nerves.  It gives me a vacation from myself-- I am a blank slate, an out-of-towner, a gallery owner, a world traveler.  I once treated myself to a luxurious dinner at the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis-- I ordered a glass of white wine, trout, and warm chocolate-chip cookies with vanilla ice cream.  I kept my cell phone on the table, brought a book, had the waiter validate my parking and told him that I was in town on business.  (I actually lived right by the university, 15 minutes away.)  A hotel room brings that sense of freshness to me-- its soft linens, pillow mints, and heated towel bars speak of possibility.
To say that I snapped out of my funk from that one night at the Algonquin would be a fallacy.  But I will say that the Algonquin is a snapshot from a bygone age, when Dorothy Parker and Truman Capote ruled the city and acerbic wit was served with every dirty martini, along with the requisite two olives.  The hotel lobby, with its soft piano jazz and its Ruby Slippers cocktails, was a refuge, a soulmate.  I know that I slept well that night.  What is it about a hotel room that clears the mind...?
Leonard Cohen once said, "You always have a feeling in a hotel room that you're on the lam and this is one of the safe moments in the escape.  It's a breathing spot.  The hotel room is the oasis of the downtown.  A sanctuary.  A sanctuary of a temporary kind, therefore all the more delicious.  But whenever I come into a hotel room, there is a moment, after the door is shut and the lights you haven't turned on illumine a comfortable, anonymous, subtly hostile environment, and you know that you've found a little place in the grass, and the hounds are going to go by for three more hours.  You're going to have a drink, light a cigarette, and take a long time shaving."  Oh Leonard-- I wholeheartedly agree.  Minus the cigarette, of course, and add a bubble bath to that shave.
Algonquin Hotel, New York City
Thistle Hotel Bloomsbury, London
Intercontinental Hotel, Prague

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