More often than you'd think, I set scenes in hotels. My first book opens in the Waldorf=Astoria (equal sign theirs) where I just went for the first time on a research expedition for novel number three which also opened there but doesn't anymore for reasons not clear to me until I set foot in the place. Also fodder for another day. Outside, there was this sign:
Then there's this gorgeous new(er) hotel which I also visited for book research: the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park (whose hyphen, let's admit, is a little passé). A scene I was writing hinged on the view from a suite in the hotel, so I needed to see a suite in the hotel and look out its windows. It was pouring rain in NYC, and I was wandering around in only a raincoat and hat because I am a Seattlite now apparently, and so a forecast of rain no longer suggests to me that I should bring an umbrella. Thus I showed up in the lovely empty lobby of this very posh hotel, soaked and dripping and bedraggled and asking politely to see and photograph a $1500 a night hotel room. The concierge was quite, quite skeptical. I explained as to how I was writing this book and really it would take only a minute and I promised not to even drip on anything. And he paused and looked askance and went and whispered with someone else and looked tempted to call security and looked tempted to throw me out and looked somewhere between alarmed and appalled at my very existence and said, down his nose, "I don't suppose you have a card or anything." I do. I fished around in my wallet and produced it for him. And a switch flipped. Suddenly, he was terribly solicitous and all smiles, very eager to help, very kind, delighted to take me up and let me into a room that was maybe one hundred times lovelier even than it had been in my imagination. Generally they require a permit for photos he said but I should feel free to just go ahead and take as many as I pleased. You understand I ordered these cards online. And you could too. They aren't certified by the Library of Congress or anything. This is the sort of reception one hopes will greet the revelation that one is writing a book. And it never, ever happens. So I was gratified. And as an aside, if you've the means, the suites at the Ritz-Carlton seem entirely worth $1500 dollars a night in my opinion. And they do keep out the riffraff.