Room with a point of view

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

A room in a ho­tel is no longer a room any more than a ship’s cabin is a cabin. Both terms sound in­sub­stan­tial in this mod­ern world of mar­ket­ing hype and gob­bledy­gook lan­guage, so they must be re­placed with more as­pi­ra­tional terms. So, while T&I rou­tinely prefers gue­stroom or suite, and doesn’t mind the odd cham­ber, we could be ac­cused of be­ing stuck in the mud.

The words of the day are habi­tat and sanc­tu­ary. You can throw in abode and re­treat, pad and hide­away. Pres­i­den­tial suites abound, sel­dom occupied by world lead­ers but by guests need­ing 12-seat din­ing rooms and ad­join­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion for their se­cu­rity de­tail. Ho­tels of­ten up­grade their most loyal cus­tomers to th­ese mas­sive, un­sold spreads where they rat­tle around echo­ing spa­ces leav­ing trails of crisps to find their way back to the en­trance or bed-hop Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood style to de­cide the com­fi­est place to sleep. (Bet­ter not ask me how I know this.)

A hol­i­day rental house is not a house at all but a cot­tage, casa, villa or bun­ga­low. Add a fire­place and you have a lodge, a thatched roof and it’s a bure or fare, even if you are nowhere near Poly­ne­sia. More than one-bed­room? It’s a life­style apart­ment, but never a flat, as that is so last cen­tury. Bal­conies are old cha­peau, ter­races are tired, and it’s all the rage to have a lanai, but rarely within cooee of Honolulu. How I long for a re­sort to be brave enough to use a plain de­scrip­tion such as beach shack, with all the im­plied sim­plic­ity and snug­ness, and buck this silly trend.

Aboard a ship, it’s a state­room or, at the top tar­iff, the owner’s suite, which does sound as if it could come with a Florida tril­lion­aire or Ital­ian ship­ping mag­nate in the hot tub. Lob­bies are no longer foy­ers, which is not a bad thing as the lat­ter sug­gests the vestibule of a hospital or of­fice build­ing. Lob­bies are evolv­ing to so­cial­i­sa­tion spa­ces with front desks junked in favour of con­soles, work sta­tions or pods. I have been checked in via iPad by a su­per­cool dude who had no seat­ing ar­range­ments. The concierge at that ho­tel was not a concierge at all, as it tran­spired, but a cu­ra­tor of ex­pe­ri­ences. The tours desk did not ex­ist. En­ter the pop-up pro­ducer of mem­o­rable mo­ments.

Camp­ing is not plain old camp­ing but glamp­ing and the term has been ren­dered all but mean­ing­less by its overuse. Glamp­ing could be, at its most ba­sic, just a site with ac­cess to run­ning wa­ter and toi­lets, which is wel­come but not nec­es­sar­ily glam­orous. To re­ally glamp (sadly, it is in­deed a verb) you need to be in Africa, prefer­ably Botswana, where per­ma­nent tents at camps and lodges typ­i­cally are kit­ted out in sa­fari-chic decor, but­lers on call. Oh yes, free-range ar­ti­san but­lers. They are ev­ery­where, but­tling their socks off, from five-star cruise lines to Lon­don’s top piles, of­ten mak­ing guests, such as me, un­com­fort­able to think that I am not trusted to un­pack my suit­case or hand-craft an un­der­wear drawer.

Air­lines are at it, too, with their care­fully cu­rated toi­letries kits and or­ganic blan­kets, all the while reach­ing out to their val­ued pas­sen­gers (hello, United Air­lines). A re­cent press re­lease as­sured an up­lift­ing and el­e­vat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence aboard one car­rier’s new air­craft. Well, you would kind of hope so, un­less your flight is over­booked.

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