When I do business travel, I advise priceline.com a day or two before my journey how much I am willing to pay, and how many stars I insist upon. This time, I "bid" seventy dollars to stay in a "boutique hotel". The taxi pulled up this morning to the Metropolis Hotel. It has an un-prepossessing exterior, with one of those modern metal doorways that could signify either a hip boutique hotel or the entry way to the wholesale fish distributor. I suppose I would have, in a quiz, guessed accurately as to which one, because wholesale fish distributors usually insist that the doorways be cut symmetrically. Inside, the decor was very stylish--kind of post-modern, post-comfort, quite charming. As I checked in, the desk clerk explained to me the many benefits of staying here. They are not insubstantial. I get free access to the business center, with computer use (one desktop), a copy machine and a fax machine. I get free croissants every morning. I also have unlimited 24 hours a day access to the "holistic wellness room", a meditation facility exclusively for the comfort of the guests. My room is a cute little kinda European size boutique room, tastefully appointed and comfortable. I thought that I had been shorted my soap and shampoo, until I noticed that they were hanging from a mesh sort of tea bag on the towel rack. Everything is tres chic, but I am very concerned that the TV may not get UPN, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is showing a new episode tonight; I'd hate to miss that show while trapped in a lair so interesting it must be very good--or very evil. Perhaps the First Evil is pretension.
I noted when I got off the elevator that my floor was entitled "Wind". I am not used to staying in floors which have names. When I came down to breakfast this morning on the stairs, I noted that each floor is designated "earth", "wind", "fire" or "water" or some such. I feel at one with something, but I am not sure that something is the universe. I love San Francisco.
Today I have business meetings all day. I cannot think of a greater contrast than with the Hotel Metropolis. My fellow guests seemed to be conventioneers from Canada, whom I strongly suspect of choosing this hotel based on the priceline.com "put me where it is inexpensive" approach. I must check out that meditation center tonight.