It’s almost as if the universe designed hotels for storytelling. Floor after floor, room after room, each one numbered like chapters. Each one populated, for some random amount of time, with people who are going somewhere, wanting something, hoping for something, escaping something.
They’re private. They have weird keys that only work sometimes. They have little soaps, and individual shower caps, and cranky heating systems with diabolical minds of their own. Strangers will bring you too-expensive food with tiny jars of honey and a lone rose tucked into a little glass vase. There are safes in your closet with codes you can make up.
It’s closed door after closed door after closed door. And a hotel is an author’s bonanza. As Vicki Baum herself wrote in Grand Hotel, “Prosperity and disaster may be separated by no more than the thickness of a wall.”
It’s where Stephen King had Jack Torrance typing: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
It’s where Maxim de Winter met his second wife.
(It’s where Kay Thompson’s always-confident Eloise asked room service for “one roast-beef bone, one raisin and seven spoons.”)
It’s where Baum had prima ballerina Grusinskaya say: “I want to be alone.”
And where world-weary Dr. Otternschlag said: “People come. People go. Nothing ever happens.”
Authors and readers know — that’s simply not true. Tell me you don’t think of Psycho every time you open the shower curtain in a motel.
I miss hotels. I should be on book tour for The First to Lie right now, trying to remember my room number and wishing the people next door would turn down the TV. But we can all check in via books — here are some places you might try.