My hotel is… not quite what I expected it to be. But at the same time, it is familiar because I have been known to watch British shows on PBS.
Itʼs less of a “hotel” and more like a “rooming house.”
It looks like a converted brownstone, like the ones I know from Brooklyn. The main entrance brings you immediately into what can only be described as a shabby living room about the size of a small bedroom. Thereʼs a decrepit television teetering on a spindly-legged television cart. The cart is firmly embedded in what was once yellow shag carpeting, but is now a mustard-colored fluff with goat paths revealing the backing. The perimeter of the living room (I guess “sitting room” is the correct term) is lined with the kind of overstuffed armchairs you often see next to trash cans on the side of the road.
At the (not very) far end of the living room, a hole has been cut into the wall and thereʼs a counter with a small magazine and a lady with a better-formed mustache than I will ever produce. Whatever the British equivalent of an unlit Lucky Strike hangs from the corner of her mouth. Sheʼs not interested in my credit card, she wants British pounds, but we settle on American Express travelerʼs checks because thatʼs what I have, and I donʼt think sheʼs in a position to turn down someone staying as long as I am. I think I overpaid, but like with Grumpy Grammarian at the train station, I just have to take her word for it.
The room is fine. Itʼs not up to American standards, but I didnʼt expect it to be. However, itʼs not up to Austrian standards, either. I guess the same way a hotel in Mingo County, West Virginia isnʼt going to be of the same standard as one in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Still, this is London, so I expected it to look a little less like a 2am black-and-white movie.
Itʼs arranged galley-style, meaning deep and narrow. At the far end is a window. It doesnʼt open, and isnʼt clean enough for me to see through. For all I know, it may have a direct view into the private doings at Buckingham Palace. But more likely, itʼs a well-lit brick wall.
The bed is oddly narrow, like a college dorm bed. And thereʼs a radio conveniently built into the headboard. It has two knobs. One for power/volume. The other turns to positions labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4. Station 1 seems to be all about the weather in places Iʼve never heard of; which makes sense since Iʼve learned from PBS that the Brits are obsessed with the weather. Station 2 plays Duran Duran. Station 3 is classical music. Station 4 doesnʼt seem to work.
There is no television in the room. I guess Iʼm supposed to watch TV in the sitting room downstairs. Iʼll try to remember to bring a newspaper with me, because it appears the correct way to watch TV in a British boarding house is to lay back as far as you can and put a newspaper over your face while you snore.