Thursday, May 17, 2007

Notes from the Biltmore (pt. 1)

Thunderstorms and tornado warnings had pushed our flight’s departure time back two and a half hours, and by the time we arrived in Miami, collected our luggage and rode to the hotel, it was pushing 2am. But even when viewed through a drowsy fog, the Biltmore is a very very cool place.

The lobby has ridiculously high vaulted ceilings, painted like a starry night sky.

In the middle of the floor sit aviaries that look like something from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; inside, tiny birds, heads tucked under wings, sleep in woven straw nests.

Given the lateness of the hour, the desk clerk was not waiting at attention for us; he had to put down his bowl of cereal and turn off South Park to check us in.

Our room is up a winding stone staircase lined with painted Spanish tile.

King-sized bed with white linens. The bathroom walls and floor are cream-gold stone.

The view outside is of the front entrance, meaning that one could, if so inclined, spend the day watching the parade of Porsches and Beemers coming up the drive and disgorging men in golf shirts and women in white dresses and high heels.

It's always interesting, in hotels, to see where the level of detail stops; at what point does the management decide they don't have to go the whole hog? Lobbies in fancy-pantsy places like this are always breathtaking; restaurants and bars are inviting; and for the most part, the in-room experience is a continuation of the brand ... to a certain extent. It often seems that, at some point, there's a decision to stop with the luxury and fill in the blanks with cheap stuff.

Example: at the Biltmore, the bathroom has a generous supply of insanely thick towels and there are TVs in both the bedroom and living area and fluffy white Frette bathrobes and satin-covered clothes hangers. And then the clock-radio is a cheap, lightweight plastic box. The ironing board in our room has seen much duty, and opens with a painful metal-on-metal screech.

A card in the bathroom indicates that there's a hair dryer "in bottom drawer of armoiré" (since when has the word had an accent? Probably since someone decided it sounded more posh that way).

And there appears to be one--only one--electrical outlet in the room, hidden behind the couch.

I'm writing this while sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, the only location that allows me to hook up the short internet cable and the laptop's power adaptor at the same time.

I know. Oh, poor me.



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