It was something I never considered doing before, but extenuating circumstances have compelled me to live in a hotel for the last two weeks—maybe longer. (Of course, I’m not going to divulge the myriad reasons why I’m living in a hotel. I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination). It’s a transitory existence I only imagined once fleetingly while watching Gene Hackman in The Royal Tanenbaums years ago. Eccentricities and extenuating circumstances aside, it has been quite nice living in room 201. Frankly, it will be hard to leave.
1. I never have to clean up after myself, ever. This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, but didn’t know it was possible. Sure, if you have the money you can afford a housekeeper once a week, but everyday!? I wake up in the morning and get ready to go to work, paying little attention to the disorder I’ve created in my room. When I return in the evening, the room is miraculously clean. Everything’s clean! The bed’s made, fresh towels, clothes sorted, and trash taken away. It’s something we’ve all experienced when at a hotel for a day or two—but for weeks? My laundry was done and folded today for Christsake! It’s unbelievable. (Though something so good is destined to be temporary, right?)
2. Breakfast is ready for me every day. The first morning here I sat down in the empty dining room and the guy at the front desk whipped me up a cappuccino and took my order. I thought he was joking, but it was all “free”—I mean, included. (I like to think of breakfast as “free” because it takes the pain out of knowing I’m paying for this place by the day—more on that later). Because I was the only soul in the banquet room, I felt like Louis XIV in Versailles. The first few times, I felt a bit pampered and guilty. After ample time here, it has become the norm. Breakfast is laid out and ready. Coffee is brewed. Fruit and vegetables chopped and displayed. Everyday. It’s ridiculous.
3. A brief, regular dose of friendly attention. As documented by many a 20th century writer, human loneliness is part of the dilemma of our modern existence—but not at this hotel! Imagine a kind and welcoming staff that greets you upon every entry and exit to your residence (Never mind they’re being paid for it). From day one till now, upon entry, I have friendly Bulgarians to talk to on my way in and out. Sure, their first language is Bulgarian, but we can communicate just fine with a few basic phrases and primitive gestures (It might even be better this way). I feel guilty because I don’t know any of the staff member’s names, but they know mine. They also know my room number by heart and how many days I’ve been here. They know how much beer I’ve consumed; where I shop. I don’t think they know much else about me, but I assume they now refer to me as “The weird American guy with a beard who lives in room 201.” I haven’t actually heard them say that, but they give me that look a lot.
4. In my royal, Wes Anderson imagination, I own this place. The great thing is, I am seemingly the only guest here. Thus, it creates the illusion that I am the lone Gatsby character in a very large, semi-luxurious abode with my own personal staff. I have been served meals on the patio, on the rooftop deck, and in the dining room (Of course, I realize the friendly staff here is only doing their job). Tonight I smirked at the waitress as she served me because I felt a bit silly being the only one in the restaurant. She smiled back, somehow acknowledging that I’m leading a strange and spoiled life—but at least I recognize it. Sure, room service is standard at a hotel, but I seem to have earned odd privileges as the lone, foreign guest. Because the staff all knows me now, there is no need to pay for the bill after dining. I can just eat and walk away. I can put in an order as I pass the front desk. Everything is charged to my room. I can go to the sauna and indoor pool after hours now because they trust me. So why wouldn’t I—at certain moments—imagine that I own the whole place?
5. The Price Breakdown. Yes, in this case, you can’t beat the price. It may be hard to believe, but this place costs 30 euros ($39) per night! So, if my apartment cost $1,000 per month, that’s roughly $33 per night—which doesn’t include free breakfast, free TV-internet, daily cleaning service, and pool/gym/sauna access. Yes, I mentioned a pool. This is actually a “spa hotel”: sauna, jacuzzi, pool, gym, and massage parlor. I haven’t opted for the massage treatment though because I’m not yet so delusional that I wrongly believe that I have tons of money to throw around. The only issue with the wanna-be Gatsby life is the occasional loneliness and the fear that while I’m lazily floating in the pool, some disgruntled, jealous man might shoot me in the back when I least expect it.
How is this $39 luxury hotel possible? I really don’t know, but I assume that it’s some kind of mafia front because there’s no way that this place makes any money off its guests.
Aside from the cheapness, the recent kicker has been the beautiful hiking trail I discovered 100 meters behind the hotel. Tall trees, lots of green, and rippling creeks. I also recently discovered the rooftop bar that’s never open. It has a gorgeous view of Sofia and I’m glad it’s been closed during my time here. It means that I can bring up my own drinks and camp out with no questions asked.
This is one of the many reasons I have extended my stay in this hotel.