My Hotel Fantasy With Properly Faded Giveaway

February 21st, 2009

I have a secret fantasy.

In this fantasy, I am the owner of a small hotel in a coastal village. My hotel has maybe twenty rooms. It is properly faded, at least a hundred years old, carefully worn around the edges, but the tarnished glamour still peaks through the aged fringed rugs and the sun bleached velvet draperies.

There is a high ceiling in the lobby. This ceiling is strangely the most important part of my hotel fantasy. In fact, my fantasy rarely makes it past the ceiling. There is after all, a lot to consider when dreaming about the ceiling in your old hotel.

First of all, how high is the ceiling? It can’t be too high. I wouldn’t want it to be absurdly high or ridiculously high. It can’t be an outrageous thirty or forty foot high ceiling… nor could I stand for a measly ten or twelve foot high ceiling. It must be somewhere in the middle… where good taste meets ostentation and they shake hands like old friends who secretly loathe one another… or not. Can you see how difficult this ceiling part is! Never fear! I am capable of happily dwelling on the ceiling height in my fantasy seaside hotel for entire afternoons. Besides it saves me from all the annoying details associated with actual hotel ownership. Things like taking care of guests, checking people in, checking people out, answering the phone, giving the same directions over and over again...

“Yes the sea is located three blocks south… just walk south…. it is not difficult to find… just go out the door and turn right and keep walking. It is not very hard to miss as it is the ocean. Look for the big body of water! The vast blue spot on the horizon! How hard can this be? Are you blind? Follow your nose! It smells like salt. Just walk outside and let your brain lead the way. Do you have a brain? ”

It is highly likely that I would struggle mightily with guest relations as well as with all the details of running a small hotel. Details like managing employees, keeping books, stocking mini bars, stacking travel brochures, fixing broken televisions, purchasing tiny bottles of shampoo, etc…etc…. All I really want to do is stand behind the desk in the lobby (with the perfectly tall ceiling) in a tweedy skirt, fabulous heels, a crisp white blouse with a peter pan collar and an expertly tailored jacket with just the right amount of gathers, pleats, and puffs to make me look frightfully thin. I spend my mornings watching people come and go. After a while, I slip out to the beach, picking up a croissant and coffee on the way. I might stop in at my favorite shops or I might choose to sit down at a sunny sidewalk cafe for a moment to rest up and order some desert. I do eventually meander back to my perfectly high ceilinged hotel, where I spend the afternoon watching streams of light pour through the preposterously large windows, dance across a scattered collection of fine, faded chairs and slide onto the marble floors. Towards evening, I wander into the dining room and eat a lovely meal, prepared by my friend, the chef who never causes me a moment of trouble. Shortly thereafter, I retire for the night. After all, tomorrow dawns bright and early and there is a hotel to run, a lobby to watch, a seaside to explore, shops to visit, and a fresh croissant with my name on it.

In honor of my hotel fantasy life, I am giving away a few old hotel books today.

Reading about a great old hotel is almost as fun as visiting one.

Hotel Bemelmans was written by the Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the ‘Madeline’ books.

Ludwig grew up in a family of innkeepers in Austria. He was a very poor student and his family was terrified that he had no future but to end up conscripted as a low ranking soldier. To save him from this, they packed him off to America where he found work in the Ritz Carlton in the 1920s and 1930s. This book is a humorous collection of stories about his experiences serving the ludicrously wealthy as well as documenting the lives of his co-workers. Illustrated by Bemelmans himself, in the same style as the ‘Madeline’ books, it was fun to read.

Written in 2005, The Inn of a Thousand Days, by Alan Tongret is the story of one family’s attempt to reclaim the former glory of a rundown hotel in Augusta, Kentucky. When the family purchases the decrepit building, it is inhabited by a collection of down and out characters who the family can’t evict due to desperately needing the rental income to keep the renovation project afloat. Slowly, over the course of four years the old hotel re-emerges as a lovely, self supporting country inn… or not. The reader is never really sure they are going to succeed.

Chicken Every Sunday by Rosemary Taylor is a memoir written by a woman who grew up in a boarding house run by her mother. This is a warm, energetic book set in Arizona in the early 1900s. Rosemary’s mother runs herself ragged keeping her guests fed and comfortable while her father invests all her earnings in one get rich quick scheme after another. A non-stop parade of quirky guests roll through their home, sometimes staying for years. This book was eventually made into a movie in which Natalie Wood played one of children. A highly enjoyable, scrub faced, hard workin‘ gold rushin, look at life in America’s rapidly expandin‘ western frontier.

My favorite from this particular selection of hotel books would have to be Open for the Season by Karl P. Abbot. Like Ludwig Bemelmans, Mr. Abbot grew up in a ‘hotel family’. His parents operated a large hotel during the height of the Gilded Age (early 1900s) . This hotel, called the Uplands, was located in the White mountains of New Hampshire and a favorite get-away for rich New Yorkers.
Karl continued to work in the hotel industry his entire life, eventually opening and running some of the first magnificent resorts on the Florida Coast. One of the things that makes this book so fascinating is how it vacillates between the extremes of building, staffing, and operating a massive hotel in an area that lacks basic services and New York shopping trips where Karl orders luxury linens, glassware, and beautiful handmade furniture for hundreds of guests. It is a fascinating, adventurous, and rich story from which I hated to depart at the last page.

This giveaway has come to an end.


  • TxHoney:

    This is my first visit to this blog. I would love to read these books.