Room with a point of view
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.