Neale Whitaker reveals his unrivalled joy at a night in a top hotel.
IS THERE ANYTHING AS THRILLING AS A NIGHT IN A LUXURIOUS HOTEL?
As jobs go, mine’s a good one, but if I could trade places for just one day it would be with Alex Polizzi. You know Alex, she’s the Lifestyle Channel’s hotel inspector. All nasal vowels and dangly earrings, but she knows her stuff (as you’d expect from the granddaughter of British hotel baron Lord Forte) and in my opinion she’s one of the best things on TV. Where other people obsess about House Of Cards, I have The Hotel Inspector.
I know I’d be really good at that job. Or if not quite an inspector, I’d definitely make hotel constable. For me, checking in to a hotel room can be an out-of-body experience. I find the temporary sense of displacement thrilling and my hotel routine is my yoga. Check out the view, draw back the curtains (call me odd, but I can’t sleep with closed curtains), stake out the bathroom, test the lighting, aircon, mini-bar (rarely partake but like to stocktake in case I wake in the night with a Nobby’s craving) and then embark on the ritual of unpacking. Woe betide the hotel that gives me hangers attached to fixed hooks. They never, ever, face the right way. Did I mention the hotel in Perth that opted out of wardrobes? Just hooks on the wall and hangers by special request? I’ve never been back.
Of course I understand that in hotels, as with everything in life, you get what you pay for, but my general requirement is gilt-edged reality. I like the luxury dial set to warm. I don’t need champagne or a trouser press, but I want it to feel like a treat.
Recently I checked out of a Melbourne hotel room that only offered decaffeinated coffee (useless at 5am), had water in the dishwashing drawer causing a justaudible-enough-to-be-excruciating bleep (and disproving my theory that no one washes up in hotel rooms), and blinds that could onlyy be raised by a sideways limbo manoeuvre between the couch and an off-kilter standard lamp.
But by evening I was floating 15 floors above Brisbane at The Johnson, the new jewel in the crown of the Art Series hotel group. I’ve lived in apartments smaller than my room. Late afternoon sun washed across the balcony and from 10 floors below came the gentle splash, not of a blocked dish drawer, but a lap pool. Enough coffee to justify a barista and kombucha in the fridge. Inspector Alex would love it, darlin’.