Sunday, 13 February 2011

My life in hotels Part 1

I’ve been in some strange rooms in some strange places in my time. I suppose it is hardly surprising considering my career as an airline and travel agency man. They have ranged from a shed like structure in Kenya to an unintentional baroque style brothel in Columbia. The latter tried to deliver to me a whole new concept in bed turnover service that included two French maids and their ‘apparatus’...

I have stayed in some pretty opulent rooms too and one I still remember today for a number of reasons. It was at the Mayfair in London. It is a grand old hotel with mainly huge rooms and a justified 5 star rating. Part of my job at the time was buying hotel rooms for my agency so they obviously decided to impress me by an upgrade to one of their best rooms called the ‘Maharaja Suite’.

I always find it ironic that whenever alone and on business I get great rooms but when travelling with my wife they are invariable tiny and above the hotel kitchen. As I found my suite which topically had a picture of an Indian elephant on the door I reminded myself to say nothing to Judith when I got home as, for some reason, she never seems terribly pleased for me! However, after what I experienced, I could not resist.

The Maharaja suite was vast and bigger than my home at that time. It had a lounge with a huge balcony, two bathrooms and two big bedrooms. In the lounge there was a beautiful, and very expensive black shiny Steinway grand piano and I could not resist the urge to play something. I was half way through the one fingered version of ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ when I could not help but notice some nasty deep scratches above the keyboard and on the top.

My first thought was ‘Oh no, they might think it was me, I better call the manager immediately’. I rang a very calm man who said he would be right up to explain. When he arrived he reassured me the scratches were not only known about but preserved for posterity. It seemed that in the early seventies the Rolling Stones had rented the suite and one of them had ‘entertained’ a certain famous lady singing artist across the piano to amuse his friends. Unfortunately for the piano he did not take the time to remove his belt first. Nasty things buckles.

He then apologised for the second bedroom which I had yet to see. We looked inside and the whole room had been stripped. Also a new wood floor had been laid over the carpet. This had been done for the next guest who was to arrive late the following day. That guest was Michael Jackson who apparentlydemanded a dance floor in every suite for him to practise his moves. After the manager left I could not resist and did a moon-walk across the floor and scribbled in a corner ‘Hello Michael’underneath a Kilroy sketch.

Finally I got tired of sitting all alone in the vast lounge morosely reading about business travel and decide to have a bath. This was when the suite yielded up its most surreal secret. The room had a 6 foot square bath and everything else was mirrors. Mirrored walls, mirrored tiles and even a mirrored ceiling and it was most disconcerting.

As I sat in the middle of that bath I felt like a sardine in the Pacific All I could see was me. I saw bits of me that I have never seen before and never wish to see again. Where did that mole, that roll of fat, those hairs come from I pondered. In fact I finished washing with my eyes shut. Cleaning my teeth was no better as I got about 18 views of my bum and none of them were flattering.

I went to bed and lay there thinking. What on earth had gone on in that bath and this bed before me? A blooming sight more interesting than a travel agent writing his presentation I thought and a damn sight more successful I suspected. Finally I ordered room service breakfast and went to sleep. When it arrived in the morning the maid told me that she had never brought breakfast for only one and so early to the Maharajah suite before. Oh great I thought, a fantastic record to hold.

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