hotels

Midtown morning

The view from my hotel room at the Sheraton Midtown, Minneapolis, September 2014
The day after the party, I drove up to the Twin Cities to visit my parents and sister, while my husband flew to Seattle to visit his mother.

Every time I go to the Cities, I stay in a different hotel.  This time I stayed at the Sheraton Midtown, which agreed with me.  I particularly liked the view out my window in the morning, the early light gradually warming an ordinary urban scene, of people waiting for the bus and the still cold cars waiting for their owners.

The ordinary hotel

An ordinary hotel (Second-floor view of the pool of the Best Western Plus at Historic Concord)

More restful than the most luxurious spa are the ordinary hotels of some Massachusetts towns.  Many sit on large tracts of land, with mature trees and perennial beds, lawns mown with the precision devoted to baseball fields.

A morning stint by the pool might include the songs of real birds or a turtle-sighting.  Precisely because the hotel’s interior contains little of interest, it is relaxing to inhabit.  There is little stimulation, little to provoke thought, setting the mind at ease.

The hotel is a silent community, where the density that might produce bustle or camaraderie neutralizes and separates.  Repetition tranquilizes and subdues.  Occasionally a guest will appear on one of the lawn chairs or balconies, to gaze out at the still and empty scene.

A rest here of a night or two will drive a body off, in quest of clamor.

Red maple on grounds of ordinary hotel, © 2013 Celia Her City

Hotel grounds, Concord, © 2013 Celia Her City

A hotel some call home

A hotel some call home

Dining at Mon Ami Gabi is a happy excuse to pass through the Belden-Stratford lobby.  This grand old apartment hotel, built in the Beaux-Arts style, is situated on Lincoln Park West, right near the zoo and conservatory, and gives onto the glorious gardens that distinguish this street.  Stars like Louis Armstrong and Gloria Swanson used to stay at this hotel back in the day.

The thing is, the Belden-Stratford still is a residential hotel.  Yes, it’s full of apartments (like the kind Nick and Nora Charles occupy in The Thin Man) that people rent.  I once dated a guy who was born in this building; his parents lived here for many decades.  In this age of condos, only a few fancy apartment buildings still operate on this basis, but the few that I know of are real gems like this.

Mysterious diplomat

Mysterious diplomat

What was the past of the Diplomat Hotel?  Was it always run-down, precarious, disreputable, as it now looks to be?

The city is peppered with such mysterious hotels, looking like they would rather not be occupied, not for long at least.  Their mute faces will never spill their histories.  Too bad—they are probably more intrigue-laden than a Dashiell Hammett story.

The Diplomat, silent to the last, has since been gutted, though the facade is still there, with its world-weary sign.

Old fashioned opulence

Old fashioned opulence

A hopeless traditionalist, I have been known to go to the Drake sometimes.  Yes, I go to the fusty old bar and drink a Manhattan, after a night of Molière (updated).  I love the old colonial wallpaper of the Coq d’Or. . . . Upstairs, the Palm Court exudes old-fashioned glamour. . . I enjoy seeing this room when it’s full of people.  When a live band is playing and people are dancing, this place is positively lousy with charm.

You may enjoy this view of the Drake on a vintage postcard.