I very often hustle through The Empress Hotel for a quick pit-stop at the washroom. I love the hotel. The décor intertwined with secrets and history embedded in the walls fascinates me, and I long to stay there and hunt down a ghost or two.
History and ghosts aside, when I am there I am on a mission. I scurry through the Tea Lobby where the famous ‘high tea’ is served, ignoring the chintz fabrics, antique rugs, and vintage furnishings – the washroom my destination. Of course, I can’t help but snatch a finger sandwich from a waiting tea tray. No one sees this, of course, and I am planning the greatest ‘oops I tripped’ scheme - without breaking the fine china - and execute the greatest ‘five second rule’ ever. I mean, they can’t very well serve stuff that’s been on the floor, now can they?
I hadn’t been there in a while, so one day as I skulked through the halls, dry-swallowing as many swiped pastries and sandwiches as my mouth could hold (forget the lox and caviar – ick), I rounded a corner and nearly choked on my raspberry tart.
There stood a bookcase I was sure hadn’t been there before.
I tried not to pick at a raspberry seed stuck in my tooth, because who does such unrefined things in such a fine establishment, and a framed sign on its shelves. Of course, in true Empress Hotel style, the frame was pewter.
Resisting the urge to shove the fancy frame in my purse, I peered at it closely.
Well what a novel idea!
Now, I know the concept is nothing new. Club rooms in apartment buildings and curling rinks often have them (yes, I have seen one at a curling rink, not that I curl or anything. I just happened to be there, but not for curling. I don’t curl. Not that there is anything wrong with curling, and not that I am comparing the Empress Hotel to a curling rink, not that one is better than the other, but…oh never mind). These little book nooks here and there are like little free libraries for all.
Not that I am a revisiting patron of the hotel intimately familiar with every inch of the premises (but I should at least have my own washroom stall), but I was sure the bookcase was a new fixture in this area of the hotel; the partly bare shelves, telling.
All I could think of as I stood there not contemplating pilfering the frame, never mind wishing I had grabbed a lemon tart instead (I hate those raspberry seeds), was what a great PR platform this would be for a published author. What a great way for an author to promote his or her books; leave an autographed book, get known!
I put back the frame (I had ONLY moved it to take a picture, not to shove it in my purse), and stood back to admire the perfect little sitting room where it sat.
Just to add to the mystique of it all, among the chintz sofas, flouncy drapes, and antique wood polished to a mirror shine, stood a desk with something else that caught my eye: a computer.
It stood out like a sore thumb among the antique furnishings, but at the same time, it seemed just right. I instantly saw myself there writing daily, composing masterpiece upon masterpiece to adorn the bookshelf. And heck, I would have food and washrooms at my disposal! How perfect would that be?
Oh alright…so the sign next to the computer said for ‘hotel guests only.’ But they DID provide sign-on passwords. And really, I was a guest, in a sense; I was visiting. And I did eat there.
But back to the bookcase and the PR possibilities…
With tourist season in these parts starting with the arrival of the first cruise ships on April 17th, it would be a perfect time to line the shelves with one’s own books!
I finally made my way to the washroom, passing through the Tea Lobby once more where patrons were enjoying their high tea, and knocked back a few gulps of tea. I was sure they didn’t mind, and I warned them off the lox.
So next time you run through the Empress Hotel, leave the sandwiches for me, stay out of my washroom stall, and take a book – but make sure to leave one.
And don’t interrupt me if I am writing.
(be sure to visit the Recipe of the Week section for a Raspberry Tart Recipe)