Hotels Bring Out Our Wild Side

What is it with us that when we go to a hotel, the wild side sometimes comes out?  I know when I've traveled I've sampled the mini bar (3 oz. of peanuts for $6?), thrown towels on the floor, slopped up the sink with makeup and contact lens solution, even sat in a wet bathing suit on the bed.

Wild animal, aren't I?

But writing at The New York Times today, Julie Lasky says when we check in, we often act out.  I'm not talking about the celebrities who trash their rooms, just normal everyday people like us.  But something seems to happen when we walk into a hotel, something seems to give us permission to be slobs, or do things we'd never do at home.

"Ever since the birth of the modern hotel in the early 19th century as a place where ordinary people were surrounded by aristocratic trappings, the idea was that you could enter 'a life that isn’t one that you’re a part of,'” Ilse Crawford, the original designer of Soho House New York, tells Lasky. “It’s a dream, in a way.”  

In other words, hotels are no place like home, Lasky says. "They are settings where no one knows your name (except the front desk, which uses it at every opportunity in ostensible celebration of your existence), and where service people pick up after you and offer you delicacies. Lifted from your routine and frequently your class, separated from the anchors and betrayers of your identity — the unkempt lawn, the knowing neighbors — you swell into a bubble of self-importance."

Even we average folks may switch on the adult channel and raid the minibar. And if you're a celebrity, well, you know what you'll do.    

Like hotels, theaters are very much the same. “Both are about a kind of temporary community," David Rockwell, a well-known designer of hotels and theater sets, tells Lasky.” The effects are powerful, he said, because they “exist for the moment you’re there.”

I don't travel very much anymore, though, at one time, I was away often a week a month.  I really learned about hotels then.  I don't miss them much -- except, maybe, the chocolate on the pillow.


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