Get Me A Room At The Mamounia

Over at the Guardian, Pankaj Mishra examines the lure of a good hotel and room service for many of the past century’s famed authors, people like Nabokov (post-Lolita, of course), Hemingway, Conrad, etc.

Indeed, it remains hard to think of some writers – Coward, Somerset Maugham – without thinking of room service and the cocktail hour. Their brittle cynicism about human nature could only have been manufactured in the anonymity and solitude of a hotel room. The posturing and emptiness of the later Hemingway may have something to do with his long stints at the bar of the Gritti Hotel in Venice. Nabokov’s already well-developed ego seems to have expanded further in the isolation of his Swiss hotel, resulting in the unreadable Ada Certainly, Naipaul’s futile struggles with the Kashmiri staff at his hotel in Srinagar contributed to the bleakness of Mr Stone.

These days, though, a long stay in a hotel is out of the question for the vast majority of working writers, unless, like Mishra, they are willing to explore what Asia or Africa have to offer.