Our hotel in Naples was on the second floor (they call it the first floor). We didn’t notice it had an elevator until the day we left. We usually take stairs when we can and, when we arrived, we were luggageless anyway. Two days later our suitcases joined us and at the end of our stay, we dragged them all to the elevator. It was the first time we’d seen an elevator meter. It required ten euro cents to operate.
ANOTHER hotel getting personal, just trying to help. This one’s in Berlin. The sign’s in the shower, where we’re exhorted to pay attention to our tension.
Built into the wall, this spotlit treasure on display in a glass box with an oval opening. Found in our room in Cologne’s lovely Dorint Hotel.
If I’d had a long string of pearls, I’d have rested them in the bowl overnight.
If I’d had false teeth, I might have showcased them here.
If I’d had some udon, I’d have had an elegant bowl to eat it from.
If I’d had a pet mouse, it would have had a home and water source.
If I had a hammer…
But alas… I came unprepared.
Do you like hearing the sounds of lovemaking from the hotel room next to yours?
I’ve had my fair share of overhearing neighbors in hotels. Not surprising, given the number of nights I spend in hotels each year (average: 240).
Sex sound effects are certainly superior to the sounds of snoring, or worse, fighting. I’ve been kept awake entire nights by both. Yeah, travel is glamorous.
Unlike next-door-snoring- and next-door-fighting-wakefulness, other people’s nighttime sex sounds put me into a sort of dreamy, foggy trance—as long as they don’t go on too long. One night, wakefulness dragged on and on and the neighbors’ lovemaking sounds—loud and dramatic as they were—became repetitive and predictable. I had no urge to tune in, as with a fight or loud conversation. It wasn’t interesting. Still, I lost a night’s sleep.
I can’t help wondering about the noisy neighbors. What do they look like? How long have they been together? Do they always sound like this? Maybe they’re each married to others.
Mornings-after are amusing if I get a glimpse of the couple. Once we got in the elevator together and went down for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I sipped my coffee stealing glances at the two strangers I had intimate knowledge of.
A few years ago we stayed in the antique-filled East Concubine Suite of the five-room Red Capital Residence in Beijing. On its intricately-carved opium bed was a porcelain headrest and a note suggesting that couples take care in their positions so as not to damage the ancient bed.
Soon after we turned out the lights we heard the amorous sounds of our neighbors. Bob was convinced that it was a recording, piped in for realism. Thankfully, the moans and gasps did not continue all night.
What about daytime sex sounds? I hear them about the same way I notice people’s tattoos and rubberneck accidents: with a squeamish fascination of private things exposed. (I know tattoos are not private, but I was taught not to stare—but I want to stare—and at tattoos, I sometimes do, though not without a slightly naughty sense of illicit license.)
On an amusing, tangential note, I used to live next door to a prostitute. While she did not conduct business at home, she did take appointments. Her answering machine blasted each john’s message. “Hey honey, remember me, Jim? I’ll be in Vegas next week. I’m the one who…” And here we were treated to usually unfamiliar, vivid, and sensational details. On beautiful days when her open windows faced mine, it was impossible to ignore the variety of plaintive and seductive messages left by hopeful men seeking Cinda’s services. Compelled to overhear the men’s intimacies, I had this same sense of unwilling spying and illicit knowing.
So here’s my survey, travelers: do you like to hear the sounds of sex from an adjacent hotel room? Yes? No? Comments? If you’ve read this, you have to answer.
What the hell happened to the sink? Why is its plumbing all bandaged? Is it insulation in case of a freeze tonight? Are the pipes falling apart? Are they leaky? Anyone have a clue?
I stay in hotels from the top end (George V in Paris, Singita in Kruger) to this dump: Doubletree by Hilton at JFK. Avoid the Doubletree@JFK. Its breakfast is inedible.
Norway is undoubtedly scenic. Spectacular! Though I travel up and down the country every year or so, I rarely take pictures because a camera just can’t capture the beauty. Cruising is one way to enjoy the grandeur of the fjords and mountains, and breathe the crisp, clean air.
A train journey is another way, if you don’t don’t need your pulchritude accompanied by peace and quiet. But look at what this train boasts: “20 tunnels with total length of almost 6000 meters.” Wow. You can travel through some of the world’s most breathtaking landscape via almost four miles of pitch dark rackety fumy ear-drumming tunnels. Is that a selling point?
That’s my hotel accusing me, before it even knows me. What kind of customer relations is that? I feel insulted when I find hangers like these in my room.
And I’m inconvenienced, adding further irritation toward the hotel. They’re annoying to use. The kind of anti-theft hangers with tiny hooks to fit thin bars are slightly less pesky—at least they’re not so fiddly to hang.
These hotel hookless hangers (what are they called?) are impossible for drying laundry. Unless you know how…
I know I’m a bit peevish about hotels. You might be too, if you spent 250 nights a year in them. (Hangers are actually pretty low on my long list of hotel gripes. Much worse is an alarm clock that goes off due to a previous guest’s setting.)
Must see: Portrait of a Hanger Thief
We were nearly asleep when the Jacuzzi turned itself on in the bathtub next to the bed. Of course we both flew out of bed, unsure what the racket was, then sure but baffled, then outraged. We couldn’t turn it off.
The East Hamburg Hotel can only be called a designer hotel (whatever that means). Every single item in the room, in the hotel, needs a second look. The bed is a free-standing unit with built-in side tables and lighting. Beside it is a free-standing bathroom counter on which are perched a creature-like mirror and—see the stomach-shaped pewter blob?—that’s the sink.
There’s a shower behind the glass doors and a toilet behind the wooden door. Between them is a huge Jacuzzi bathtub with a panel of intriguing buttons. I’m ordinarily repelled by hotel bathtubs, but we decided to give this one a try. It had a lot of noisy jets, which we soon turned off, opting for peace and quiet, as soon as we could figure out which unmarked buttons to press.
It was late. We’d just been the focus of a large press event. Bob had given a presentation, a series of interviews to journalists, and posed for about 30 photographers. There was a screening of our National Geographic documentary Pickpocket King, and a cocktail party. It was the last night of a hectic week of promoting the film and we had an early flight the next morning. The bath was relaxing. We dried off and fell into the seductive bed, exhausted.
Ten or 15 minutes later, we’re in twilight-land and the tub starts gurgling, humming, splashing, and foaming, as if a poltergeist were bathing. The unmarked keypad was of no use. The tub was filling.
We called reception, already dreading the imminent arrival of hotel staff, further delaying our much-needed sleep.
“It’s just cleaning itself,” front desk staff explained. “It will be finished in ten minutes and turn itself off.”