Welcome to day 2 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society. (More about heterotopias and liminal spaces.) Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
One of my favourite places to stay recently has been The Element Boston Seaport, a Westin Hotel on the outskirts of the seaport area, a part of Boston I especially like. I like the edgy feeling, the sea, the gulls and ducks, the restaurants, the proximity to South Station — the major train and bus hub in Boston — and most of all the industrial, edge-of-the-city, institutional vibe; it’s also near the airport, and the convention center is there. (Map here.)
And the Element hotel is just perfect, so much so that while we (spouse and I) were there in late March, to attend the annual flower and garden show at the convention center, I looked around the hotel room, a sort of studio apartment — with its surprisingly well-equipped galley kitchen, living area with sectional sofa, bookshelves, and king bed, its bathroom, closets and other storage spaces, the windows overlooking concrete and glass buildings — and thought, I could live here. I started to consider whether there was enough room to entertain the way I like to and decided, no, not for more than two or at most four other people (or six who really know each other well), but there are rooms downstairs, off the lobby, to hold parties and dinners.
“Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Kitchen – obviously, I was enthralled; I mean, a full refrigerator, a dishwasher, and a stovetop!:
The Living Area/Bedroom, with sectional seating for 4 or 5, and including a desk:
A decent closet:
Corridor and part of lobby (breakfast area, also wine and cheese area in the afternoons):
It’s a very appealing thought, to get rid of 90-95% of what I own and move into a 400-500-square-foot home, especially one with such clean lines and efficient use of space, surrounded by a whole vibrant city, on water, almost literally a stone’s throw from Amtrak. Granted, the bed is right there in the living room, but for one person, or for two people in a relationship, would it really be a big inconvenience? I might stretch out and sleep more than usual, but maybe not. And I’d need a washer and dryer in the unit, but I’m sure that could be arranged.
This was one of the first hotel or motel rooms that actually prompted me to consider what it would be like to call it home, not just a transitionary space for a few days or a week.
View from the window over the desk:
Just a short walk to the Barking Crab, Row 34, Trillium Brewing, City Tap House, and lots of other places to eat and hang out:
Art (maybe) in the Seaport:
“the height of sophistication is simplicity” — Clare Boothe Luce, in Stuffed Shirts