Saturday, January 7, 2017

New & Novel: Hotels in Fiction & Film

A shoebox-sized hotel room less than two metres wide and costing 8,000 Yen ($80.00) in central Tokyo, Japan, Asia. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 30 Dec 2016.
The hotel is a seductive setting for a writer. It houses a wide spectrum of people who do not know each other, yet who spend nights under the same roof and are affected by one another's behaviour in ways they may not be conscious of: they hear each other's bathwater draining away, they catch snippets of conversations in the lifts. A couple in a hotel lobby might be lifelong partners, or lovers making the most of anonymity. A gang of three who arrive at 2am might be business colleagues who have just closed a deal in a different time zone, or murderers who've recently disposed of their victim.
~Mark Watson, "The top 10 hotel novels"

Hotels are fascinating places, and you don't have to be staying at an iconic establishment like the Chelsea Hotel or the Waldorf-Astoria, bunking with Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, staying at a rundown rooming-house with Ginsberg and Burroughs, or visiting the hotel at the end of the line for the Orient Express or the Ritz in Paris to appreciate the experience, whether you are relaxing in the lap of luxury or a checking in at a more prosaic lodging. (Although, even in New Mexico, you can stay at historic hotels, such as the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos and the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, and you can visit the Belen Harvey House Museum.) We have all heard stories about a variety of unusual hotel experiences, from meeting celebrities in the elevator to hotels finding 80 prosthetic limbs left by guests in one year to finding someone had marked up the walls of the room with "I'm watching you" in glow-in-the-dark pen, and don't we all know about refilling bottles in the minibar with water and tea and not to sleep on the bedspread?

We are reading The Woman In Cabin 10, which takes place on a cruise ship - similar to the hotel environment, but even more of a hothouse, since passengers are stuck together for the duration - and we're already thinking of the "upstairs, downstairs" view.  The interplay between passengers is interesting, but how will the staff below decks become involved? If you want to find out more about what happens behind the scenes at your favorite hostelry, try reading one of these non-fiction books:

Hotel Life: The Story of a Place Where Anything Can Happen by Caroline Field Levander & Matthew Pratt Guterl

Heads In Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

How May We Hate You?: Notes From the Concierge Desk by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe 

But we digress. Hotel guests can certainly get up to a fair amount of mayhem, and stories from staff do indicate that people do things in their hotel room that they wouldn't do at home. So, take a vacation from your life and get away from it all with these books and movies set (all or in part) in hotels, and see how wacky (or disturbing!) it can get!

Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris 

At Bertram's Hotel: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles 

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf 

The Bad News Bible by Anna Blundy 

In the Kitchen by Monica Ali

The Lady Matador's Hotel by Cristina Garcia
Hotel Vendome by Danielle Steel 

A Perfect Waiter by Alain Claude Sulzer 

Hotel World by Ali Smith 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis 

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Belle Ruin by Martha Grimes

The Hotel Riviera by Elizabeth Adler

At His Service by Suzanne Rock 

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

The Mayakovsky Tapes by Robert Littell

French Coast by Anita Hughes 

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand 

The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


The Hangover

The Trip

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lost in Translation

Fawlty Towers

Grand Hotel

5 to 7

Ocean's Eleven

A Five Star Life


15 Elaborate Pop Culture Themed Hotel Rooms [Mental Floss]

The World's 10 most legendary luxury hotels [CNN]

18 wacky hotels in the United States [CNN]

The coolest hotel in every state (and DC!) [Thrillist]

New York, USA: Five unusual hotel experiences you'll never forget [Traveller]

The Craziest Things That Happened at Chateau Marmont [Complex]

10 Things You No Longer See in Hotels [Mental Floss]

14 of the Coolest Hotels in the World 2015 [Where Cool Things Happen]

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