I’ve been reading Amor Towle’s miraculous novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which is about a man sentenced to live out his life at the Hotel Metropol. Definitely better than being sent to Siberia, but years of house arrest do wear on him. Though they also force him to grow. The novel set me to thinking about which hotel to which I would like to be exiled. That led me to ask my fellow Miss Demeanors which they would choose, and they had many wonderful things to say.
Tracee: Pre pandemic I would have answered with with a breezy solution. Now, I have questions. Am I confined to the interior of the property (as in A Gentleman in Moscow) or do I have access to the grounds (as I did with my home during the pandemic)? Might I be limited to my room only (like many in lock down and quarantine situations? Food supply . . . can I count on the restaurants to serve their full menu or will it get reduced and then reduced until it’s only the local favorites? I’m going to pretend that you didn’t say spend my entire life without leaving and make it ‘a few years’. Not to give anything away (ha!) but A Gentleman in Moscow, well . . . have you reached the end?
I’m limiting my hotel picks to places I’ve stayed. If it is my room only then I’m tempted to say the Umaid Bhawain Palace Hotel in Jodhpur. I’ve had a few incredibly lovely rooms including a Historical bedroom Suite with a sitting room and a bit of writing ‘room’. The bathroom alone is worth the visit. If we have access to the grounds then bingo . . . lovely. The Park Hyatt in Tokyo is another good choice. Nice rooms (I’ve never had a suite there so would feel a bit cramped if I was literally in my room) but the pool! the main lobby (on an upper floor with gorgeous views all the way to Mt Fuji), the restaurants! and the level of service! On the other hand, it’s all indoors. That might get a bit claustrophobic and in a modern hotel I bet there’s not an operable window in the place.
The plus side of both those hotels in superior level of service (and by superior I mean unbelievable). Probably a good idea if you’re stuck in a pandemic. If it’s a real lifetime then I’ll pick somewhere in Europe . . . maybe the Ritz in London. I may need to be in the land of English speakers if it’s forever.
Michele: I hesitated to respond because, while I have a few favorite hotels, none can compete with a villa on St. John where I set my first book. I found such contentment and peace there, I could stay forever. It’s not necessarily the house; although it is lovely and commodious, it’s where it is situated. Out on a far point of the island where you can go no farther without wings, Soft Winds catches the trade winds because it is perched at the top of a cliff. There is a hexagonal shaped pool surrounded by tropical bushes where you feel like you can reach up and grab a huge cotton candy cloud and watch the frigatebirds fly above. At night you can go out and lie on the brick patio around the pool, which is still warm, and feel as if the stars are touching your face. The sound of waves crashing on rocks below is so soothing you don’t need music. I have actually wondered what it would be like never to have to leave Soft Winds, which unfortunately was a victim of Hurricane Irma and remained unrepaired when last I checked. You wouldn’t need to lock me in Soft Winds, I would stay voluntarily. It is the perfect spot for a writer.
Sharon: Jack and I are holed up in a fabulous rental house in St Petersburg, and I would happily stay here forever—as long as I have DoorDash.
As far as hotels, I used to work for a company that took all ‘key’ employees for a week at the Baccara resort in Santa Barbara. I loved that hotel, right on the side of a mountain, with a gorgeous sandy beach at the end of a path that wound by the pool and the spa. Loved it, except for the presence of my coworkers and the mandatory daily meetings.
My other favorite place is 10,000 waves in Santa Fe, a fabulous Japanese style 4 star resort with soaking pools, saunas, hot tubs, all set in secluded little glens on a mountain top.
But really, my favorite place is Grand Cayman. As long as I can dive during my confinement, I’d stay at any place on that island
Alexia: As I stare out the window onto a snow storm that’s predicted to be so bad that the military base where I work preemptively closed (meaning I’m stuck in my apartment until Thursday), I realize I’d much rather be snowed in, or under house arrest, at either the Chicago Athletic Association hotel in Chicago or at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest. They’re tied for places not to be able to leave. Both are historic properties with fascinating stories. Both have exceptional levels of service. Both serve excellent food and drinks at on-site restaurants. Both have wonderful lobby lounges. The Deer Path is smaller but has a courtyard area that would probably count as still being “in” the hotel. The CAA is larger, so more places to explore but no outdoor space (I don’t think. There may be a rooftop lounge.) If I was at the CAA I might be tempted to disguise myself and sneak out to see the Chicago Symphony or the Art Institute as they’re on the same block. Classical music and fine art would be worth the risk, right? The Deer Path Inn is close to a train station, though, so it would be easier to make a daring escape. A nondescript suburban apartment in Colorado Springs is definitely not on my list of places to have to stay forever.
Emilya: I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I think I need to bow out. Even imagining being under house arrest, no matter how wonderful the surroundings, makes me break out in hives. I can’t think of anyplace I’ve been that would work because I generally traveled on a budget. I’d have to be somewhere where my family and friends could visit me easily, with top notch WiFi and the option to order in. And I’d have to have a gym and the ability to go for very long walks outdoors. So… basically kind of like my house and the twenty-mile radius around it. But I’d have to expand it to a ninety-mile radius so I could visit my son while he’s at school.
Connie: I thought about the same scenario when I read A Gentleman in Moscow. Fortunately for him, since he wasn’t able to engage with the outside world, the world came to him, right in the Metropole. Bob and I were at the Metropole in Moscow. It wasn’t really as Towles described it. Actually, I think he said he’d never been there until after the book was published.
I’m like Tracee. My pick depends on whether I would be able to venture outside. If so, my hands-down pick would be the historic Roisheim Hotel in Norway’s Jostedahlbreen National Park. Gorgeous mountains, splendid food, open Scandinavian hearths, and a barrel bathtub I’ve included some photos of our room the last time we were there.
However, if I were confined to my room, I would choose the Inverlochy Hotel near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. Beautiful suites in a gorgeous house with plenty of rooms to read, take tea, have meals, and just relax. Plus gorgeous views from every window.
You are fueling my wanderlust!
Catherine: I’ve stayed in luxury hotels but I wouldn’t want just a room, no matter how luxurious.
I can’t think of a specific place but in my imagination I see a luxurious sprawling resort on a white sand beach in a tropical climate. There would be lots of greenery and flowers and birdsong. I would have a partially open air private bungalow with several bedrooms a living room and a kitchen. There would be a shaded patio facing the water and a small private pool. Delicious meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, would be delivered and set up on a table on the patio. Laundry and anything I needed would be provided. I would read and write and take long walk on the beach with my wife. Ooh, I can’t wait to get there. As soon as I find it.
Keenan: I didn’t even need to think about it. If I had to spend the rest of my life interned, I would want it to be in the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Old world luxury.
One time when I was in college, I walked into the lobby, looked around and decided to leave before I got arrested – figuring anyone could tell I didn’t belong.
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference. www.susanjbreen.com