What is it about opening the door to a hotel room, modest or five star, that inevitably inspires a mild rush of joy? Last night, opening Room 22 at The Farmer’s Kitchen in Wexford, I closed the door behind me, set about settling in and enjoyed the whole one-night stay unreservedly.
Having had a job for many years where long-distance travel was a monthly if not weekly occurrence, I never tired of booking in to a hotel room, in whatever city – placing bags in wardrobes, moving the furniture around (!) so I had somewhere comfortable to put my computer and then settling in.
It’s got something to do, I think, with the fact that for 20 hours, or even 10, you have a new start – a new home where you and your space are fresh and anonymous and full of promise.
And it makes no difference, for someone who travels frequently, anyway, that there isn’t a pool or gym or a dimly-lit spa somewhere around the building – sometimes the nicest places are just clean, pleasantly lit rooms that contain the essentials: soft white towels, crisp sheets, a desk, broadband and preferably – of course, a window with a view.
Some human beings don’t like to travel, which is something that I could never understand. Others thrive on it, and the hotel room is like a tiny haven amidst the clouds of the unknown. Here you don’t have to think of a daunting destination or the place you left behind.
It’s like a temporary home. And home is so very subjective. I knew a woman in the UN who literally lived out of boxes, wherever she was posted. She missed her place of origin so much she could never envisage making one anywhere else, so she just never unpacked, the boxes being shipped from posting to posting and just set on the floor of whatever accommodation she found herself in. Others would work all-out for three days to adapt their new abode, from a space in a pre-fab container, secure compound or modest hotel room, into a new home. And then, unless you’ve never been a nomad in any of your lives, that ‘s what it becomes.
Once, stationed in Guatemala, I was returning from a hectic visit to New York. Just before the plane descended into the long, low approach to the airport of Guatemala City, you catch a glimpse of the four magnificent volcanoes that encircle it. I distinctly remember, although I’d only lived in Guatemala for less than a year, the strange little lift that broad circle of four volcanos inspired in my traveling heart: “home” I thought. How could a South Dublin female take in a vista with four volcanoes and think it home? And if we are to believe the Buddhists, home is within. But it’s also wherever you are inspired to make it.
So this morning, reflecting on my overnight stay in this fine, modest hotel just a minute from the town of Wexford, I look at the desk, and the bed with its warm bedside light, and how I must get up and back into the world, and consider what a treat it has been. Home for one night, ticking all the boxes, coffee to drink as I write and down the road – the beach to walk on.