Category Archives: hotel rooms

Dalrymple Noir

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 07.53.45

An hôtel de passe. Thin curtains. A flashing neon light outside.

The charm of cheap hotels

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.00.16The place to be

Between a meat warehouse and a furniture depository

Dalrymple writes that he much prefers

a standardised hotel (the same from China to Peru), with mass-produced pictures of puppies or poppies and showers the size, and often the shape, of a coffin.

He is attracted by the

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.08.11anonymity, the fact that there is no social rôle to play, that one is left entirely alone, that there are no demands on one, that — provided one turns one’s telephone off — one is cut off from the world.

Some time ago, mistaking the date of his flight by two days, Dalrymple

had to stay in such a hotel for three nights, and I have rarely enjoyed a stay anywhere so much.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 08.11.10More recently, he stayed at a cheap hotel near Marseilles airport.

It was situated in between a furniture depository and a frozen meat warehouse. From my balcony, I could observe the traffic passing on a flyover, and listen to its roar. The air outside was polluted, a grey-purple haze hung in the sky over the earth as far as the eye could see, it smelled awful, and no pedestrian ventured along any of the roads leading to the warehouses and distribution centres of the area. How ugly our modern civilisation is, the price to pay (I suppose) for its abundance. And yet I love staying in such hotels in such areas.

Bathtime at the Pecksniff Hotel

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 22.29.39Ne sutor ultra crepidam

Entering his hotel room, Dalrymple finds an

unctuous, mendacious, and mildly hectoring and even bullying notice on the towels in the bathroom.

It reads:

You care, we care, we all care about our environment and carbon footprint. Please take care and only have towels washed when needed.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 22.51.56Yet it was necessary only

to step outside the hotel to prove that ‘we’ do not all care about the environment. Many of us drop litter; many of us tread our chewing gum into the ground; many of us make unnecessary noise; many of us render the world slightly more ugly than it need be by our careless appearance in public. Many, indeed most, of us consume vastly more than we need. Many of us take unnecessary journeys because we cannot think of anything else to do. Many of us would not even be able to define our carbon footprint, let alone care about it.

Seth Pecksniff, shield of virtue

Seth Pecksniff, shield of virtue

The very word ‘care’

now has a Pecksniffian ring to it, thanks to its use in this kind of canting message. ‘Let us be moral,’ said Mr Pecksniff. ‘Let us contemplate existence.’

The notion that ‘we’ of the hotel chain

do and ought to care more about the environment than, say, about reducing the chain’s laundry bill and thereby increasing its margin of profit (a perfectly respectable and reasonable thing for ‘us’ of the chain to do) is absurd and to me repellent.

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A worthwhile movement

We despise

the Victorians for their habit of dishonest moralising,

but ours

is an age of ultracrepidarian hypocrisy in which everyone claims to care deeply for everything except that which concerns him most.

Brussels perambulation

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.10.41The capital of Europe combines the greyness of bureaucracy with the gaudiness of modern popular culture’s worst aspects

Finding himself in Brussels, Dalrymple stays in a hotel

among whose amenities was 24-hour access to pornography.

In the room is a hotel copy of The Golden Book, which Dalrymple peruses. It includes an article on the place of women in the Belgian armed forces, illustrated by

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.26.53young female mechanics in overalls clambering over a jet fighter plane

and bringing to mind

the era of Soviet propaganda.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.41.35Stepping out into the littered, crumbling city, Dalrymple is

invited into several sex shows by men who did not easily take no for an answer. Drunks were sleeping in doorways, and very large numbers of male youths loitered.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.43.29Belgian beer

is the best (and most varied) in the world.

But

not even this could lend charm to the scene. One had the impression of walking through an updated print by Grosz.

A very large proportion of the loiterers

were Moroccan in origin, dressed in the international uniform of the modern slum. They seemed drawn to this seedy environment as flies to a carcass.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.55.23Not a single woman of Moroccan origin was to be seen.

Where were they, the women of Moroccan origin? The answer was evident after the sun came up. Large numbers of women of Moroccan origin, dressed in a non-European way, were in the streets, as if a nocturnal curse had lifted. Fewer men of Moroccan origin were now in evidence.

Cable-TV porn in hotel rooms disappoints

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 03.30.34After conducting a presumably fairly comprehensive fact-finding investigation, and demonstrating a sound grasp of the economics of the industry, Dalrymple bemoans the quality of the (pay-to-view) pornographic movies available on cable TV in Western European hotel rooms, movies which, he says, he ‘catches a glimpse of from time to time’. These ‘mostly German’ films, he writes,

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 03.20.40are almost as widely exported as Mercedes cars; yet they are about as unerotic as it is possible for pornography to be. They seem to consist largely of overweight men and women running naked into muddy ponds, where they thrash about.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 03.21.01Who could possibly disagree with this? The consensus has been for many years that the quality of Japanese pornographic fare is greatly superior. Certainly it is strongly represented in my own collection.