WHY A HOTEL ROOM IS NEVER JUST A HOTEL ROOM
In Stockholm’s hotel Berns, where I often stay, the rooms are similar to the single cabins of an ocean liner, the ones that can be found on the mansard, which open onto the roof or upper deck. Thanks to Astrid Lindgren’s Karlsson-on-the-Roof, Stockholm’s rooftops are everything to us. How can one refuse themselves the pleasure of recalling, for the millionth time, one’s favourite protagonist of childhood, “an intelligent, handsome, plump but measured man in full bloom”. Nowadays, I fly often, just like Karlsson, without the propeller though, but with a gold card from Aeroflot.
However, it isn’t just to behold the rooftops of Stockholm, but it’s the possibility to climb onto one of them, like during childhood, to rattle the tin, with which they’re upholstered — an additional pleasure worth any price. And the fee for the night is reasonable too. Single rooms are inexpensive, for it is believed that no one travels alone nowadays. So much so, that on my last visit to Berns, out of pity or because I’m a regular customer, I was offered a chic room with a large bed and a tub instead of just a shower jet raining on the floor, all for the same money.
Out of courtesy, I looked at two rooms, both of which I rejected because neither offered a view, nor access to the roof, nor any similar amenity. The most desired rooms were larger, but didn’t suit me in the slightest. I demanded exactly what I reserved — a cramped, though appropriate, mansard, arranged in the Swedish style. Polite and good-hearted ladies, who themselves admitted that they prefer “cabins”, desisted before handing out the keys and attending to other clients.
For me, personally, the size of the room doesn’t play a significant role. What’s most important, is that the room opens onto a balcony, or a terrace, or a rooftop — to fresh air, like in the “singles” of hotel Berns, or like my room in the Hilton of New Zealand’s Auckland, where the bedroom was only just larger than the bed, but opened out to a terrace spanning hundreds of square meters. Incidentally, I just celebrated a birthday while staying there, during which I laid on a deckchair overlooking the bay, along which yachts sailed, participating in the Volvo Ocean Race, and I couldn’t dream of anything more. In short, I laid, I watched, and I thanked them for their best wishes. I’m absolute meant for those edges of the world, where 100-metre terraces behold its enchanting sights.
Or my beloved Le Bristol, it too has rooms on the roof. Somehow in April, we celebrated our friends wedding anniversary in Paris, and we managed to reserve a room with a terrace for breakfast. It was cold outside, rain was showering the streets, indeed the weather couldn’t endear itself to us, but the whole collective quickly gathered on the terrace to drink champagne and snack on eclairs. Occasions may be forgotten, but everyone will long remember the feeling of joy, which captured us all: cloaked by a great bouquet of roses, we threw handfuls of petals at each other, danced, photographed for keepsakes, and felt like young fools. Is this feeling attainable? It turns out it is — one only has to reserve the right room, with a terrace, to order champagne, and to be accompanied by a handful of flowers. Happiness comes with the set — free of charge.
As a rule, every old hotel has rooms like these. Back in those days when any block in the city didn’t look the part, geometrically, when hotels weren’t towers containing dozens of storeys, when hallways were as tangled as the thoughts of the architect who created them — every room was unique, and almost everyone had: a balcony, a terrace, or a similar amenity.
Perhaps, I will open a bottle of champagne and step out onto my Stockholm rooftop, for the soul longs for a dose of happiness.