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:
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.
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