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|Stopping at the Fairmont
It is best to say at the very beginning that if one is tremendously wealthy he will not enjoy this dissertation on staying at high class hotels. If one has more than two bathrooms in his home and can afford chicken when it is not Sunday and turkey when it is not Christmas and could stay at the Fairmont all winter if he preferred, then these words will mean nothing to him.
She has gone, this friend of mine. All winter she has been staying at the Fairmont. Much of the time I, too, have been staying at the Fairmont as her guest. So it is with a sense of double bereavement that I write.
Talk to me no more of the comfort of cozy little homes. Give me a hotel where I am treated as though I were a Somebody. Where I have but to press a button and a liveried servant comes running as though I were Mary, Queen of England, or Clara Kimball Young. And plenty of hot water for baths and lots of enormous towels and, as soon as one's butter is gone, another piece, and fresh butter at that. Pitchers of ice water and a strapping big man standing so solicitously and watching one's every mouthful. It makes me feel as though I were the Shah of Persia. At home I don't feel at all like the Shah of Persia.
I came across something the other day that Boswell quotes Dr. Johnson as saying on this same subject: "There is no private house in which people may enjoy themselves as at a capital tavern. At a tavern you are sure you are welcome, and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are."
This friend of mine can go to the room telephone and say, so incidentally, "Room service, please," and order a meal in her room with almost negligence. That, I say, is elegance. Taxis, too, are another test. I never order a taxi without a feeling of sea-sickness. Even when someone else is paying the bill I can't sit back in comfort. Always they are ticking off the minutes as though they were my last on this earth.
They are simple tests that divide the plebeian from the patrician. Was it Kipling who wrote:
"If you can order breakfast in your room and not feel reckless,
If you can ride in taxis with aplomb,
If you can read the menu and not the prices,
Then, you're a qualified patrician, son."
After my friend had gone I went back to the hotel and someone else was in her room and no one treated me as though I were the Queen of Sheba and I went out into a cold, indifferent world where no one cares when my glass is empty, where no chair is pushed under me at table and where, alas, I must sugar my own tea or go without.