The fascination of this place
is not about what there is
but about what is missing.

This is not a cliché.

April 2018

01 April 2018

The hotel I wish for

What is a good hotel all about? It must be better than one’s own home. It must be an escape from daily life.
"Come, before long, I'm drinking stars!" Dom Pérignon
“Your documents”. No, we have not just been stopped by the police. We have just stepped into a hotel in Italy. My wife had left her passport in her bag in the car and I felt guilty, and was worried that they might even arrest me in consequence. “Did you have a good journey?” They ask me this three times in quick succession. It seems they are on some sort of automated machine recording. It had been a difficult day, lots of traffic on the road, and to hear this question was just like asking a person if he or she had slept well after doing a night shift.
In the hotel I wish for there would not be a desk-like barrier between the receptionist and myself. And what is more, I would like to be offered a refreshing glass of water on arrival, and it would not be bad if there was a touch of lemon available. I would prefer not to have to sign anything immediately I step through the front door and I would like the peace to look around and enjoy my vacation from the very start.
In the hotel I wish for there would be low water consumption type taps, and the electric current would come from a renewable energy source. Better too if the lift were to be used only when absolutely necessary. I would like a bedroom with technology that I can easily understand and is simple to use, and that I do not have to have a science degree in order to know how to switch on the lights. And why is it that to recharge the telephone you often have to get down on your knees or climb over furniture to reach the connection point. I remember a while ago that my parents took the trouble to spend a night or two in each room of our La Perla hotel. They well knew that it is only by spending time in a room that you can spot the every inconvenience.
In the hotel I wish for I would like that staff looked the guest in the eye and that when someone says ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ they say it with interest and conviction. All too often the words are said without any feeling or interest. And, as for the guests in the hotel, I would like persons who look around and see and appreciate the fresh flowers, the linen tablecloths, the sparklingly clean floors, the antique furniture, the decor chosen with impeccable taste. I would like that there is a pleasantly scented smell in the lobby during the day, the smell of coffee and chocolate in the bar in the morning. As for sounds, some carefully selected soft background music of a morning would be nice, or even a bit of silence would be good – as long as there is not the constant chaos of mobile phones ringing I could be content
In the hotel I wish for it would be great not to see a queue of jeeps in front of the entrance. In the hotel I wish for it would be good to hear the request of ‘Would you prefer Darjeeling or Assam, or perhaps a green tea?’ and not just the banal question of ‘with or without lemon?’ And when I order a cocktail Martini it would be heaven to see the waiter suitably dressed, and knowing how to do the perfect martini cocktail and not just some poor imitation.
In the hotel I wish for I would like to have a normal round plate in front of me – just like the ones there used to be. These pyramid and swan shaped ones I would keep for the trendy restaurants and bistros. At breakfast time I would like it if the chef himself were to ask how I would like my eggs. I am glad to report that this actually happened at the Principe di Savoia in Milan. Moving on to the evening, I would just love to hear the maître d’hotel addressing his team; I would learn so much about psychology, human nature, discipline, and even sales techniques. I could well do without some tale being invented about all the produce coming from local producers, this when I can easily taste the origin is from elsewhere. And please do not look at me in the most critical of ways if I only wish to have two of the dishes and not the whole menu – it is not that I am being ill-educated but it is just that I prefer it that way.
In the hotel I wish for I would like to see more females in the lounge and in the bar and I would like more men to be employed to make the beds, use the vacuum cleaners, and to clean the windows. Maybe we should understand that all these jobs are very demanding and tiring ones.
In the hotel I wish for I would want that that the guests were respectful, did not jump to conclusions without knowing the facts, were aware of the fact that the hotel staff work jolly hard, that their work is difficult and tiring. In effect, to appreciate that they too are humans and are subject to stress just like the rest of us – the recent death of a grandmother is always the death of a dear grandmother whatever your job be.
In the hotel I wish for it would be wonderful if persons exchanged greetings when they passed on the staircase, and I would love to be able to pass by the kitchen and thank the chefs for their efforts. And yes, you have guessed it, I would like the dining room to be without Wi-Fi connection. And what is more, can we have a touch of attention to the language we use; I do not want to hear “That’s not a problem” when I ask for the simplest of things, but: “Of course, my pleasure Sir!”. If it is hospitality we are talking about, Cracco in his new restaurant in Milan can certainly give is a lesson or two.
In the hotel I wish for I would like to talk with the young man from Pakistan who has graduated in geopolitics but finds himself washing dishes, and I would not mind a chat with the waitress just out of hotel school, to hear how things are going and to encourage her to make a career out of what can be the most satisfying job the world has to offer – that of being in the hospitality trade!”
Are you now asking yourself the following question? If you are a hotelier yourself why do you not put into practice all the things that you say? Well, the truthful answer is that we are working on some of the things I mention and who knows if we will be able to achieve everything which is on the list. In the hotel I wish for one thing is essential; that ideas and good intentions are not lacking.

michil costa