Soft cell


I’ve stayed in enough hotels to be suspicious when the desk clerk tells me “I’ve upgraded you to a one-bedroomed executive suite”. This usually means that the regular rooms have been overbooked and they are obliged to find somewhere else to put you. In most cases this will be a room which a fussy executive would usually complain about (but which an upgraded pleb is too awestruck to mention).

So I was not surprised when the ‘apartment’ in which I am staying in Brisbane was not everything I expected.

It has been furnished with a mixture of 16th century Spanish (heavy dark wood with cast iron fittings) and Louis XIV (think Chinese-made Versailles). I doubt if anything is genuinely antique, I don’t think that TV cabinets were a popular feature for homes in inquisition Toledo.

There is a kitchen, which is the main reason that I stay here. I like to prepare my own food when I am staying more than a couple of days. But this kitchen has been equipped by someone who is more familiar with railway-sleeper-thick occasional tables and gilt office chairs. There are no plates. There are no teaspoons. There are no saucepans. I had to cook my breakfast boiled egg in a stainless steel teapot and eat it with the handle of an ornate soup spoon. The soup spoon seems to be part of a set, with 6 matching fish knives and forks and a cheese knife. I am unlikely to invite five other people round for a fish feast and cheese platter, because there is only one coffee cup.
The bedroom lacks practical features, like any sort of bedside table or cabinet and a reading lamp. There is only a single floodlight-bright bulb in the middle of ceiling, which you have to get out of bed to switch off and on. One wall is completely covered in mirrors. I have a feeling that I am actually being filmed for a focus group.

Because it is an ‘executive’ apartment, it has a study where a second bedroom would be located (the equivalent regular apartments have two bedrooms). The study has a monstrous desk which occupies one half of the floor space. When I sit in the black leather chair I can feel why the inquisitors held on to their positions so tenaciously. The other half of the floor space is taken up with a floor to ceiling cabinet-bookshelf combination with twelve separate shelves, in a dark colour that would probably be called ‘mahogany’. It is not a welcoming room.

The twelve shelves contain: three cuboid black wooden boxes (empty – but suitable for holding thumbscrews and pliers); two pyramid shaped dark wooden boxes (locked – scary…); a sepia globe in a brass frame, with a map of the world dating from a period before Australia was discovered (no idea how that could have ended up here); an oil lamp (decommissioned); and twenty books ranging from ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ (better than the film) to the inquisitors ironic favourite ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die’. Ho ho.


One Response to “Soft cell”

  1. 1 Camilla

    It’s curious that you don’t learn what you value in a hotel room until you find a hotel which doesn’t offer whatever it is. For example, one thing I value is air with no cigarette smoke in it. Fortunately this is now the norm in most of Europe, but not necessarily in Turkey.

    Decent lighting is another thing. I want a bedside light which is bright enough for me to read by, which can be pointed at a book which I am holding while I am in the bed without me having to hang out of one side of the bed at an awkward angle, and which I can turn off from the bed. How hard can it be? Do people who design hotel rooms never read in bed?

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