On spending time in a hotel

We’re recently back from 10 days in Malta. We spent all of this based in one hotel, which, if not the longest time we’ve ever spent in one hotel on holiday is certainly the longest for a great many years. The hotel dynamic is an interesting one, as the faces you start to see on a daily basis become part of the experience, yet at the same time nothing more than the most fleeting of acquaintances is established.

So it was with our stay. The earlier part of our stay was spent relaxing, especially around the pool, and it didn’t take long for some of the regulars to become known. We never knew the names of any of them – aside from the occasional poorly behaved child whose name was shouted in exasperation – so it became normal to use epithets for these selection of characters.

The Kojak Brothers were perhaps the most distinctive poolside faces, comprising Kojak himself with his penchant for iridescent shorts and glamorous wife, and his brother, similarly bald with a less glamorous wife in-tow.

Then there was the French lady who spent much time drifting around the edge of the pool, always with one arm held aloft holding her book of choice. We didn’t develop an epithet more punchy than the Native American sounding ‘Frenchwoman-who-reads-book-in-pool.’ She never seemed to actually swim, however, preferring to wade around with her book in the air and moan about the British teenagers.

The Phoenicia wasn’t a hotel for youngsters; 5-stars put it well beyond the financial means of backpackers; however a few A-level students were clearly on what would likely be one of their last family holidays with their parents. There was a pair of boys ‘Blondie’ and ‘Brownie’ and what we decided was their love interest; a girl holidaying separately with her own family. Clearly in a hotel largely bereft of teenagers they quickly got together to kill time strumming a guitar by the pool. Blondie turned out to be a versatile musician: one afternoon he plinked away on the hotel’s grand piano rather entertainingly.

Each day, be at breakfast, the pool, in the lounge or cocktail bar, we’d as likely as not encounter some of these characters. However in the way of hotels any of these faces may vanish at any time; new unfamiliar ones appearing in their place. By the end of our stay we saw few of the regulars, although we’d also focused more on sightseeing at the expense of time at the pool. It was odd, that we felt this tinge of sadness at the absence of what were to all intents of purposes complete strangers. It’s a curiosity of hotel life and perhaps the mundanity of hotel life that attributes this extra value. Perhaps we feel that the sharing of experience – albeit that of a hotel interior and its grounds – represents something that links us.

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