Hotels have been a large part of my domestic life. I met my husband, who travels constantly for work, in the lobby of a hotel — the Chateau Marmont, in LA.
Our first, second and third dates were all in hotels: the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur and the Gran Hotel de Milan in Italy.
He first told me he loved me in a hotel (again the Chateau Marmont); I realized I loved him at the Peninsula in Hong Kong.
We had two years of a blissful home life — all in hotels.
The next time we were at the Chateau Marmont it was for our wedding.
After we married, we tried to settle down.
It should have been a happy time evolving from hotel-skipper to homemaker — decorating, co-mingling our things, arguing over couches, cooking, cleaning and entertaining friends and family.
But the more we nested, the more I yearned for the freedom of hotels.
They had become my habitat, with an internationalized culture that feels more like home than my actual home: an idealized, perfectly run household.
Houses are so complicated, so full of banal details.
Hotels are carefree, above all trivialities
Life is the same — sleeping, waking, working, eating, sex — but at a hotel everything is touched with novelty.
Here’s why everything in life is better in a hotel.
1. Wild sex
Sex requires surfaces, and if the surface of your partner never changes, the location can add the variety you crave.
At The Ring Hotel in Vienna we were once given a magnificent suite with an enormous dining table that we eyed lustfully.
If we were at home, such escapades never would have happened: naked on the table where we’d eat Thanksgiving dinner?
In a hotel, anything goes.
Once, when we were checking into Shutters in Santa Monica, a famous Hollywood actor was checking in beside us with two women. Ever since, we’ve nicknamed it “Slutters.”
All hotels have a hint of mystery, like the best sexual relations, they are exotic places unable to be possessed.
It’s no wonder they’re popular for affairs and clandestine adventures. Just try not to think of all the other people that have had them there too.
2. Perfect sleep
Outside of hotels I’m a restless sleeper; only in hotels can I find oblivion.
The curtains shut to an absolute black. There are freshly laundered and ironed sheets.
The rooms are quiet; the walls are solid; the world is distant.
Hotel beds are where sleep is soundest; they are palaces constructed for a pure, perfect night of sleep.
3. The morning after
Even better than sleeping in a hotel is waking in one.
My favorite is the Beau Rivage in Geneva. It has a bedside remote control that opens the blackout shutters, so one can lie in bed watching the slow reveal of a sunny Swiss morning looking out over Lake Geneva.
Hotels are built with location in mind, and always a few of the rooms have desirable views.
I prefer arriving at hotels in the middle of the night — that way the morning parting of the curtains exposes an entirely new twinkling city before me, its new adventures beckoning.
4. Dignified breakfasts
For me, the wildest luxury is to ring for breakfast.
“Cut-up pineapple and a double latte, please.”
It’s a ritual that’s surprisingly easy to keep.
Hotel breakfasts are sublimely elegant, arriving on silver trays with china; white, ironed linens; a budding rose in a crystal vase.
There might be edible flower garnishes on your pineapple, or flourishes in the latte foam.
5. The lobby
My favorite place to work (that is, write novels) is the lobby of a luxury hotel.
I’m at my most productive surrounded by that dignified, hushed bustle.
Hotel lobbies are filled with exotic strangers. As someone who met her husband in such circumstances, I can attest to the life-changing power of that.
You never know when a handsome man will send over a drink that possibility changes everything.
6. Domestic harmony
My husband and I have a domestic routine in hotels.
He goes to work; I eat breakfast in bed and then work in the hotel lobby. In the afternoon I go for a run around the city while the room is made up.
There’s nothing like coming home to a perfectly clean hotel room: a pleasure of a 1950s husband, along with the higher-order pleasure of not being the 1950s housewife producing it.
The chore-less evening stretches before you. My husband listens to classical music and reads. I sit on his lap and we talk about the day.
Soon, we dress for dinner.
Hotels now all have good restaurants.
There’s little better than going downstairs to a fantastic meal with bottles of red wine, then reeling back upstairs like two drunken sailors (see #1).
We repeat this routine in new cities, new hotels, without it ever losing its appeal. It’s the most banal of routines, but it never bores.
Hotels have a blank domesticity; they are homes to inhabit, and then leave. They have all the pleasures of domesticity, with none of its burdens, and in this, they make me feel free — and at home.