SSoP Podcast Episode 35 — Hotels: The Liminal Space with M&Ms in the Mini-Bar

SSoP Podcast Episode 35 — Hotels: The Liminal Space with M&Ms in the Mini-Bar

Monday, 23 May, 2022

Room service. An oversized bed seemingly made of clouds. Breathtaking views through wall-sized windows. Zippy elevators. Friendly, efficient bellhops. And three magical words: Gourmet breakfast included. These are the things of which a first-rate hotel stay is made.

The idea of a place to lay your head while away from home has been around for millennia: When the Greeks and Romans developed thermal baths, they also built accommodations for visitors to spend the night after a recuperating soak.

What we would recognize as an inn became common in Europe during the Middle Ages. Rustic but homey, they provided lodging, food, and stables for horses. Fast forward to the industrialists of the 19th century, and boom! now we’ve got grand hotels designed to cater to a guest’s every whim. Laundry service? Of course. Space for entertaining? Naturally. And oh, free soap!

In this episode, we take a quick romp through hotel history and imagine what it might have been like to visit a luxurious hotel during its 20th-century heyday. Then we discuss so many books that transported us to hotels on the page. There are haunted rooms and murderous mischief, people falling in love and settling scores, history-making events, and intimate drama, plus plenty of opulent furnishings and white-glove service.

Here are are five of the books we recommend on the show — there are a bunch more in show notes:

Books, Transcript, and More

For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, visit the Episode 35 show notes.


Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss a must-read book or thrilling destination!

If we're not available on your favorite podcast-listening platform, send us an email!

Top image courtesy of Quynh Do/Unsplash.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

That moment when on a getaway to a not-your-hometown, and you stroll through the lobby to the reception desk of a hotel? It's so exhilarating. Luxurious or cozy, it's a thrill to take possession of that room key.
There are so many things to love about hotels: Bellhops! Room service! Tighter-than-a-drum sheets! Lobby bars! Plus the intriguing possibilities of all those strangers inside the same walls, together but separate.
Pssst... how'd you like to sleep INSIDE a bookshelf?! That's exactly what you'll get to do at Book and Bed Tokyo, a collection of six hostels devoted to reading (and a little bit of sleeping).
Poppy Fields thought her trip to Mexico would be the break she needs to heal her broken heart. Sunshine and cocktails: What could go wrong? But Poppy finds more trouble than she bargained for on the beaches of Baja.
Found on the southwestern tip of England, Cornwall is known for its dramatic stone cliffs, crashing surf, and hiking paths — a brilliant setting for this story of a summer holiday that's not all sugar and sunshine.
This weekend, you're invited to a destination wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. Pretty people, blue skies, crashing surf, open bar, love in the air, and... oops! a little murder at the wedding reception.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.