Thursday, February 17, 2011


I love hotels.  And they don't have to be fancy, either - although that helps.  :D  I don't stay in one very often, which is probably why they still hold appeal for me.

When I was growing up, we NEVER stayed in a hotel.  It was just too expensive.  I was 18 by the time I had my first hotel experience - I went to Milwaukee to attend Summerfest (also my first time for that) and about five or six of us spent the night in the Port Washington Hilton (I think it's owned by another chain now). 

It was thrilling for me, and I think the others thought I was crazy when I took every pen, all the stationery, the "do not disturb" sign, the sugar packets, and everything else ephemeral.  That was 23 years ago, and not much has changed - I STILL take whatever I can!

What is it about hotels that is so wonderful?  Is it the idea that our lives are somewhat miniaturized for a time?  Is it the fact that someone else is cleaning up after us?  Is it knowing that (most of the time) no meals will have to be prepared?  That we're in an unfamiliar (and possibly exotic) locale?

I remember reading the Eloise books and wanting to live in a hotel.  Doesn't that sound romantic?  And of course it's the Plaza hotel, which conjures images of mid-Century fancy-schmancy parties, jet-setters, bon vivants and the general sophisticated air of old New York.  The fact that this world no longer exists makes it somehow even more irresistible.

My favorite hotel of all time is not in Europe.  It's not in Toronto.  It's not in Hawaii, New Orleans or Phoenix (although I have visited all of those places).  It's in Fargo, North Dakota.  No, that's not a typo.  It's called the Hotel Donaldson, or HoDo for short.  It's an old working man's hotel that's been renovated into a boutique hotel.  Every room revolves around a different local artist's work.  There's Aveda products in the bathroom.  There's heated tile.  There are fluffy duvets and fresh local truffles awaiting you at turn-down.  Every night at 5 p.m. there's a wine & cheese gathering in the lobby (and on the rooftop garden in the summer).  The Hodo restaurant is spectacular.  They have live music at least three nights a week.

THIS is what a good hotel should offer - the promise of something out of the ordinary; the awareness that you're NOT at home and by that sheer fact you should enjoy yourself.

And that's why I love hotel ephemera - it's a reminder that traveling is good for the soul.  Perhaps another trip to Fargo is in order!

Here are a couple of pieces I've made with my hotel ephemera - it's one of my favorite subjects!

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