The Ice-Cream Makers | Chapter 15 of 24 - Part: 1 of 2

Author: Ernest van der Kwast | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1155 Views | Add a Review

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Jacuzzis and Ironing Boards

Hotel receptions are almost always staffed by women, while the night porter is usually a man in his late forties. Hotel corridors are like streets, with identical doors on either side. The light is diffuse, the walls matte, and the carpet muffles all sound: heels, rattling wheelie suitcases, voices late at night. Sometimes, somewhere halfway down, there is a random shoe-polishing machine.

The bigger hotel chains all have keycards for their rooms, but in smaller establishments the receptionist will hand the guest a key on a ring with the room number. In Ljubljana, in Hotel Center, the keyring came in the shape of a fluorescent gnome; at the Hotel Royal in Tetovo, the key was attached to a heavy bullet. (‘Do not lose key,’ were the receptionist’s only words when I checked in at Tetovo.) There’s a greater risk of the room door not opening with keycards than with keys. They can be inserted in four different ways, and even when you get it right the unlocking mechanism may refuse to comply and you have no choice but to return to reception.

Whether two, three, four, or five stars, the room will contain a chair, a desk, a lamp, and a television. There’s usually a window with curtains on a rail and a bed flanked by two cabinets. The drawer of the one on the left often has a bible. In Oslo, in Hotel Rica, I also found an opened packet of condoms. In Medellín, they were actually lying on top of the bedside table, along with a packet of Lucky Strike and a strip of paracetamol. In Brisbane, a shiny green apple awaited me; in Edmonton, a box of mints.

On the desk there’ll be a folder with information about the hotel, the restaurant menu, a tourist leaflet, or a map of the city, as well as two sheets of writing paper and two envelopes. There will be a tray with a kettle. The welcome note on top of the television will be in two languages, sometimes even three. The Metropole Hotel in Brussels has the message in nine languages.

There’s a safe in the wardrobe; the ironing board either folds out or leans against the wall. The larger wardrobe will have clotheshangers — a single plastic one at the Van der Valk Hotel in Maastricht, twenty-four wooden hangers at Grand Hotel Karel V in Utrecht. An extra blanket lies on the bottom shelf.

In the bathroom you will find two small glasses beside the wash basin, a shoe-polish sponge and a shower cap in separate bags, a small guest soap and a shampoo and a shower gel, or a shampoo and shower gel in one. The hairdryer is in a drawer. And there will usually be a sewing kit, matches, and a ballpoint pen with the hotel logo somewhere.

The colours are different wherever I go, but yellow, pink, and pale blue are popular. Modern hotel rooms are as white as the walls of a dental practice. The paintings are never crooked. Nine times out of ten they are reproductions — sometimes an old master, more often something by Picasso, or Michelangelo’s angels. Jim Morrison is popular, too. I may have woken up with him on no fewer than twenty occasions, sometimes in Pop Art colours or as a gelatine silver print, always half-naked. Room 9 of The Albany in Scotland’s St Andrews has three identical reproductions on the wall. It’s a plate from a botanical book, a black-and-white drawing of a milk thistle. It took me four days to realise there were three completely identical drawings in completely identical frames.

The breakfast room at the Monasterium Hotel in Ghent, a former monastery, boasts drawings of bodies with copious pubic hair.

Some chains decorate their rooms the same the world over. Hotel beds may be two thousand kilometres apart and yet surrounded by identical lamps, tables, and wardrobes. Walls, ceilings, and carpets are no different, either. The hotel guest wakes up not knowing whether he is in Berlin, Toronto, or São Paulo. What differs is the view. The Museuminsel from the tall windows in Berlin; the CN Tower in Toronto; and in São Paulo, a whitegoods store selling second-hand sofas.

Hotel Panorama in Bologna doesn’t have a view. At the Sea View Hotel in Durban, where each corridor has a security guard, the windows overlook the Indian Ocean. At Hôtel du Lac in Cotonou, the view comes courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean. Stand on the balcony and you can see whale fins come to the surface with the naked eye. Reservations for the corner room have to be made three months in advance.

Room 16 of the Roxford Lodge Hotel in Dublin has a sauna. You actually hit your knees against the timber wall when you get out of bed. The bathroom door opens only partially. All the rooms at the Bristol Hotel in Odessa boast a jacuzzi. The folder with information and the restaurant menu also contains a leaflet for a marriage agency, would you believe. There is a mirror above the bed of Room 402 of the First Hotel in Paris; the curtains are made of shiny black satin. The porter of The Courtyard by Marriott in Tbilisi wears a handsome blue uniform, helps carry suitcases and, in a whisper, offers to supply young ladies for the night. The Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv has two free porn channels.

It’s rare for a room to have fishbone parquet flooring.

The air conditioning in Hotel Tryp by Wyndham in Leipzig can’t be switched off. In Room 126 of the Novotel in Beaune, the iron blows the fuse. The items that can be faulty in a room: the light, the television, the kettle, the phone, the alarm clock, the hairdryer. You wouldn’t believe how many rooms have defective showerheads. In Room 13 of Hotel Balkan in Belgrade, the toilet seat looked as if someone had taken a bite out of it. Normally, a problem gets fixed after a phone call to reception, but the strategy at this hotel was to blame it on the guest. I was told the seat had been intact in the morning and had broken after my arrival. This could only mean one thing: I was the one who had taken a bite out of the toilet seat.


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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