Fleeting romance in a hotel lobby

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For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt an overwhelming sense of romanticism in hotels. Maybe its the transient gypsy in me who clings to a constant sense of adventure, or the cloak of anonymity which is my armour in a foreign city. Forever intrigued by the coming’s and going’s in a hotel lobby I find myself enamoured with those brief moments when my life is intimately intertwined with the mysterious lives of total strangers as they pass by, hotel key in hand, suitcase in tow.

What I love most about hotels is that no matter how unfamiliar the city and contrastingly different the culture, there are always elements that remain a constant. Quiet mornings in the executive lounge, piping hot black coffee, the local news paper, and a view of the world below. Crisp, over-starched white sheets and unfamiliar pillows that somehow help you fall into a deeper sleep than usual. Dining alone at the dimly lit connecting restaurant, heels slipped off under the table, book open, wine glass half-full.

As an adult now, I find myself gravitating to hotel bars even in the city I live, however especially when overseas: Watching  afternoon turn to night over Santa Monica beach from the indoor palm filled oasis of Casa Del Mar. Evenings with friends at the Roosevelt. Lunch by the pool at the Beverley Hills Hotel. Cold desert night by the fireplace at The Parker, Palm Springs. Retreating from the madness of Manhattan to the quiet library of the Jade Hotel…

I can’t quite pin point the precise moment I developed a passion for hotels, but I have a hunch it was fuelled by my constant run-ins with the transient lifestyle. My parents split when I was too young to remember, and the majority of my life was spent between two homes living out of a regimentally packed weekend bag. When I was little, my step mother had a holiday apartment at the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast of Australia, so weekends and holidays were spent eating fish and chips at the swim up bar while she sipped on a daiquiri under her glamorously oversized floppy hat.

The later half of my childhood was spent helping her and my father design and fit out her passion project, a luxury health resort tucked away in the quiet coastal town of Cabarita Beach. The hotel was finished and fully furnished years before it opened to the public, so our weekends and holidays were spent choosing which room to sleep in, pretending to be a guest at the spa, playing hide-and-go-seek in the empty hallways, late nights sitting in the industrial kitchen with my brother eating snacks and musing about life.

The eight long years of its development meant every inch of the property was taken into account, which birthed my obsession for well considered spaces: thoughtful decor, use of natural light, incorporation of exterior elements, and finer details that work to create a world of its own – from the books that line the shelf in the soap holders in the bathroom. 

But outside the privacy of your room, it’s the hotel lobby I love the most. A lobby can be a microcosm of an unequal world, and the moment you enter the revolving doors, suitcase in tow, you have the freedom to establish your place in it however you like, becoming whoever you like. A friend of mine with crippling social anxiety takes on a character whenever faced with a social setting that makes him uncomfortable. His armour from the world which protects the real and delicate him from the potential penetration of strangers.  It’s this ‘costume’ that good hotels inspire, while the great hotels satisfy everyone’s secret desire to escape our reality for a fleeting moment in time.

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Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina

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