About Grand Hotels
Grand Hotels are the present of a past that has not yet passed. They create a connection between times – not that they brings them closer, but because they bridge this significant gap. They are retreats for brain workers, a cosmos at work, the clockwork of timelessness, run by the great people of their age. They are a free passage for all those who feel trapped between ages, where you don’t even want to ask What time is it? or do anything mundane, because everything is so old, it’s almost eternal. The chairs have been sat on, the carpets walked on, the paintings looked at, the wood used. But the beauty of it is not what is used, but the time that does something with it. Everything that is true improves with age. Love, wine, leather, problems. It is easier of course to imitate age than to preserve the old, but if you preserve it, something intangible emerges, an aura, attention to detail, the spirit of these buildings, time that has become space. They are the stages where our history mostly likes to take place, very close to our inner world.
They gleam innocently white, like ambassadors of civilisation on the coasts of the world. They stand in cities like museums in cities that one can use and touch and make dirty, or steam like great ships in the mountains, traveling through time, coming from another century to pass on to the next, so that the world of yesterday can still be here tomorrow. Like an ark, they preserve long-forgotten courtesies, lovingly maintain the traditions of extinct professions, keeping on board something that has been lost. In any case, it cannot be equated with money, except for people who only know the value of something if they know what it weighs or how much it costs.
There is a truth within them that everyone must decipher for themselves by discerning, in the first place, what truth means. The truth that underlies them is the same as that which underlies an honest corner pub run for decades by a couple who take pride in what they do. The significance of these places becomes evident only when times get tough. They have survived world wars and visits from the Jenners. They serve as laboratories of modernity and strongholds against the century in which they presently exist. In the event of war, they form fortresses that hold out the longest.
Concierges are wonderful people who have traveled the world, know many countries and speak their languages and do not trouble themselves with simple truths. They are discreet, unobtrusive and speak in simple, eloquent forms. They have young faces, spared from the hardships of life, and for a fleeting moment they make you feel like the most important person in the world, whether you are asking for bath salts, postage stamps or helicopters. They, like no other, help to bring about that balance that is generated in a person by the architecture of a grand hotel.
The most beautiful hotels look like vanilla ice-cream with a roof on top. The bar is made of dark wood, the waiters wear cufflinks and pass round aperitifs. Sometimes you find out from the barman all that there is to know about this place or that, the best restaurants, the latest gossip. You take it all in until your loved one comes down the lobby steps in an evening gown. Wonderful.
In the weighing scales of nations, hospitality is sacred. They concentrate current eternal values from a primeval right to shelter and luxurious development, form the locus of a deep longing and act like an institutional reassurance. You come back years later and everything is still there. The same people work there and recognise you, no matter how or what you have become. It is a certain way of life, a way of dealing with things and the people we meet is dictated by the land. It’s the letters handed to the concierges, the expectations of a hotel room with a view, the equilibrium that only the lobby of a good hotel can create, all these secrets that you encounter disguised as coincidences. It’s the simple feeling of contentment reached through the beautiful ambivalence of love.
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