I’ve spent a fair part of the last fortnight in a hotel. What curious institutions they are: well, perhaps I should say, the Hilton is. The service is fine, but the servility is terrifying. Have I had a nice night/ breakfast/ drink? Is there anything I need? Is there anything else I need? Am I enjoying myself? Would I like to be brought x, y or z?
The attention to detail has now reached an almost nannified state (I’ve just made that word up, because ‘nanny’ would have been confusing). So, not only do you face what Michael McIntyre has satirised as ‘the long walk’ to your table, at which point, you are offered tea or coffee, and then told what you know (it’s self-service on the other side of the room), but in this case, you are handed a glass of orange juice to hold while you make the initial walk. Since you are already clutching a ‘free’ newspaper as you set out for the first leg, as well as any other clutter you have brought down from your room, this becomes a sort of experiment in double-or-drop.
There are curiosities, too, like the sheer strength of the deodorant used in the corridors. Not since the days of Brut can such a force-field of aroma have been deployed. And of course, as with everywhere else, you are issued with a plastic ‘key’, which cunningly works the light system when you enter. I’d love to have been at the think-tank where they first thought that one up. Don’t tell me that you find it an easy system, please. When I go to stick the plastic in the door, a red light comes on during the first fifteen attempts, so it looks to any passing strangers (‘Hello!’) like you are attempting to burgle another guest.
Nonetheless, my inner sybarite enjoys it all. The clean bed! So large and accommodating! The giant TV screen – something which would look vulgar at home suddenly becomes attractive, even essential. For the first time ever, too, I watched a film in a hotel room. Watching a film in a hotel room is fraught with the worry that you will accidentally log into the various porn movies they mysteriously offer (who watches them?), and which will be billed, you are told, just as ‘Film’ – but which, I am sure, are identifiable …
Perhaps every home should have one room which is done up like a hotel, so that you can go away while you are home. I think I am up to the self-deception it would involve. Room service!