From the archive
At this point a slight qualification is needed, namely that in some ways a room is more erotic than a suite. A suite subtly revives the division of labor and leisure on which the architecture of the house is predicated. In a suite, the bed is kept separate as an adjunct or option. In a room the bed is all-dominating and unavoidable. However big the room, the bed expands proportionately to fill it up. Since the outside world scarcely exists the bed becomes the world (“This bed thy centre is, these walls thy sphere,” as John Donne put it). You do everything from this bed: you read, write, watch porno, have sex, sleep, make calls . . . Basically, the only time you’re not stretched out on the bed is when you’re stretched out in the king-size bath which is, effectively, a liquid bed.
Whether in bed or bath you will, of course, be watching TV and if you are watching TV you will be watching porno. At home you want to watch news, sports or documentaries about human rights abuses. If you are watching TV in a hotel, on the other hand, all you want to see are things going in and out of other things in extreme close-up. Ideally — a sense of self-enclosure being a key component of the hotel experience — the porn watched in a hotel room will also be set in a hotel.
If porn is expected in hotels then fluffy white bath robes are assumed. While less revealing than the bikini, no other garment is so suggestive of nakedness. No sooner have you put one on than it starts trying to take itself off. The robe, if you like, is always in the process of disrobing — the noun is always being stripped of meaning by the verb’s seductive prefix.
Even though they are frequently stolen, these robes are theft-proof in that almost as soon as you get them home they lose that fluffy quality. How do hotels maintain robes in that state of perpetual arousal, i.e. fluffiness? Keeping them white is easy. How they keep them fluffy is one of life’s enduring mysteries. Do they use gallons of fabric conditioner? Apparently not (I’ve tried it). The answer can only be: they are not just fluffy white bathrobes — they are fluffy white hotel bathrobes and the style of behavior of which that fluffiness is the vestimentary expression is unique to the place from which they were stolen.