Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Home Suite Home

First, the backstory. Though we have diligently budgeted circa £1300 a month for accommodation, at the pre-trip research stage we hit upon a couple of problems. Namely "managers" asking for around £6,000 to be wired to Western Union accounts in advance, for apartments that may or may not actually exist.

So we struck upon a backup plan. Carlos at Atos (the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym we will be training at) had suggested a budget hotel nearby, the ‘California Suites Hotel’. Browsing the prices online, it came up at just £472 for a two-week stay, giving us a base from which to start looking for our new abode.

From the pictures, it looked clean, fresh and relatively modern, plus it had a pool, a spa, high-speed internet, complimentary breakfast and on-site laundry facilities (pretty essential given the high-sweat, high-contact nature of BJJ). Heck, we pondered, if it was that darn good, we might even stay there for the duration, and save some spondoolicks. Being as I’m in a ‘spiritual growth’ kinda mood, I’ll say the reality has given us a chance to readdress our relationships with commercial branding, comfort, and other human beings. Also food (more about that later).

Fountain = classy establishment. Fact. This one has two layers, which makes it double classy. Just outside the shot is a sign advertising conference hosting facilities, which is great if you want your clients to associate you with faded sofas, chintz and an idiosyncratic bird lamp.
On the subject of charisma, this reception area is home to two ladies, neither of which I have photos of as I’m a bit scared of them. One has a boyfriend called London (I foolishly, and mistakenly, assumed this would put us in line for an upgrade) and the other’s concierge service extended as far as repeating “Bike hire? Bike hire? What do you mean?” back at me on the third day.
This is the internal courtyard. Another fountain, even more class.

Look, a pretty flower. Savour it, that’s as good as it gets.
Room 1802, home for the next fourteen nights.
The bedspread and soft furnishings – put it this way, that oversexed dude behind American Apparel would splurge within seconds.
Here is our top-of-the-range TV, along with an adjoining door to facilitate any inter-room drug dealing, wife-swapping or just general escaping from the feds. And let’s take a closer look at those signs on top of the telly…
50 times faster than the phone line indeed. California Suites appears to be the only place in the world that measures internet connectivity in relation to 1980s dial-up.
I don’t smoke anymore, but if I did, a fine that costs almost as much a week’s stay here might put me off.
The Suites has also plastered these signs on most walls to deter anyone who feels glib with their cash.
Despite the state-specific warnings, most walkways, stairs and balconies boast at least one smoker. This is our neighbour, a man who I suspect lives here and who spends pretty much all day every day inhaling nicotine like he’s hoping he’ll drop down dead and get away from the bedspreads.
The activities on the other side of 1802’s walls are no less ‘My Name Is Earl’. The inhabitant of 1804 kindly shared his all-night televisual experience with us for the first two evenings, and in my mind acquired the physical and psychopathic tendencies of Anton Chigurgh in ‘No Country For Old Men’. When he finally packed up the body parts/shotgun/sports bag full of bank notes and skipped town, he was replaced by some new lodgers, who, from the sounds emanating through the adjoining door, I would guess to be three Mexicans and a high-pitched transsexual prostitute.

Making the most of the current lack of shopping trolley in the pool (and for my part, ignoring the nagging suspicion of flesh-eating bacteria) we retired to our ‘spa’ area, and a whirlpool that runs hotter than the showers.

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