Der Hotelier dein Retter in Not (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 12.03.2015)
My friend’s husband, also an artist, throws furniture. Chairs, stools, and recently their TV which, being an old-fashioned one weighing as much as a small Sumo wrestler, crashed right through the wall into the neighbours’ living room.
Most of us leave this sort of behaviour behind around the age of two, when we realise that hurling toys out of cots solves nothing. But yesterday, to my horror, I found myself on the verge of hurling my favourite Van Gogh coffee mug the length of the room.
The reason for my temporary mania was simple. The neighbour upstairs had moved out – and builders had moved in. Builders with drills capable of reaching Australia in a morning, and saws powerful enough to fell centuries-old oaks as if they were made of butter. After one week I was exhausted. After two, I was angry. Yesterday, as plaster rained from my walls, I snapped.
Just as I was about to destroy both my favourite mug and my longheld belief that infantile behaviour can be controlled, the voice of reason sounded. Don’t behave like a mad male artist! it cried above the pounding sledgehammers. You used to date one, your friend’s married to one, and there’s one on the mug you’re about to smash! Three are enough!
I put down the mug and weighed up my options. I could go to court – which, considering the ruthlessness of Berlin landlords, would be a long hard battle. Or I could go to a hotel. The second option was not only much more appealing, it also seemed a likelier way of retaining my sanity.
I ran to my computer and began trawling a favourite website that I visit often at leisure, to daydream about beach houses in the Maldives or eco-treehouses in Swedish forests.
Today was no pleasure trip: it was a necessity. My criteria were only two: an early check-in, and absolute peace. I threw my laptop in a bag and myself in a taxi, and sped off, realising too late I was still clutching Van Gogh (mercifully intact, even his ear).
Three minutes later, I was there. The lobby was blissfully quiet. All the plaster stayed on the walls. The floor was clean and sander-free. The receptionist’s concern was like warm melted chocolate. ‘You need an upgrade!’ she sympathised. ‘I’ll put you in a studio. With a sofa. And a bath. And a Nespresso maker.’ She paused. ‘You didn’t need to bring your own cup, though.’
I floated on a wave of relief down the corridor and into a huge silent shadowy room. Collapsing on the white bed, I reached a whole new understanding of hoteliers. Previously I’d seen them as purveyors of luxury, people who make life occasionally more pleasant for others. Now I realised. Not only are hoteliers nice, they’re essential. Saviours, offering refuge to the nearly deafened and solace to those blinded by rage, counteracting the work of Berlin landlord-devils. Hoteliers, I sighed gratefully, are angels. Every single one of them. And then, although it was only midday, I fell asleep.