Thursday, March 3, 2011
How To Sleep With An Author In The Comfort Of Your Own Head
It's a difficult choice.
It's always a difficult choice: Who to sleep with. So many writers, so little time but at Sylvia Beach Hotel you can choose between the cream of the American and British crop. You can shag up with Mark Twain. You can cuddle with Agatha Christie. You can share saliva with Scott Fitzgerald. Or how about enjoying your nightmares with the one and only Edgar Allen Poe?
That's what we did at this wonderful hotel in Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon. It's a theme hotel. All rooms are named after a famous writer. Sluts as we are, we slept with three, the first being Edgar.
If you don't know Edgar Allen Poe, I'll tell you this: That man was seriously messed up - like a latter day Lou Reed with a keen eye for the poodle droppings of life. Just looking at his portrait was enough to make your skin crawl. And his room was creepy as well. Dark red colors, pictures of ravens (not exactly the most cheerful bird around), and an axe above the bed to keep you on edge. It wasn't a healthy room to stay in. After a few hours I actually tried to murder my wife twice.
The next morning we moved out and took a walk on the beach. It was a gorgeous day. No dead bodies around, just your odd Christian fundamentalist gazing wistfully at the young girls. We went back to the hotel and had a wonderful breakfast. Those are hard to come by in the US, unless you're infatuated with plastic spoons. But at Sylvia Beach Hotel they actually have a bit of class: Pancakes, sausages, soy milk, and only a few of those bagels that taste like cardboard.
At noon we moved into the Gertrud Stein room, a small place with a lesbian cabinet, a few of her letters on the wall, and some nice unattractive pictures of the writer. We felt much better in those surroundings, even though there wasn't much of a view.
By the way, there are a lot of cats at Sylvia Beach Hotel. For an extra twenty dollars you can have one sleep on your belly - they should call it Rent-A-Cat. Maybe they should have a house penguin as well because I have a weakness for animals in suits.
On the third floor, there's a library with beat up chairs and a fantastic view of the ocean. I tried to reserve all the chairs like the Germans do, but we Scandinavians just can't get away with that.
Sylvia Beach is an easy place to connect with book nerds. Even New Yorkers become mellow when they look at the sea. Several times I strolled through the small library at the hotel. It has an impressive collection of all the books a writer ought to read - the so-called classics that only have one purpose in life, to make you feel like shit because you haven't read them.
The third night was a treat. Luckily, a nice couple got the swine flue and didn't show up, so the kind people in the reception offered us the suite - the Agatha Christie room, with four windows facing the ocean, a fireplace, and an old typewriter.
God, I loved it. Everything had a twenties feel. I could just picture Miss Marple looking for murder clues in the ashtray, or Hercule Poirot driving everybody insane with his Belgian accent. The room was so wonderful I decided I'd never leave - I actually handcuffed myself to the bedpost instead of paying the bill. I've now been barred for life, but sometimes you just have to fight for what you believe in.
So what can I say? I've stayed at hotels around the world. I've been smothered in Thailand, spoiled in Syria, and humiliated in Costa Rica, but the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon is something else.
And I'm definitely going back one day. I just have one small request, and I don't think it's unreasonable: Please name a room after me. I know I'm not that important a writer, so the Peter H. Fogtdal Broom Closet will do. Or how about one of those bathrooms where the toilets won't flush - I would be happy with that, too. That's how humble I am, seriously!
Check out The Sylvia Beach Hotel here!
*Rewritten version of blog entry from the summer of 2008 and 2013