After admiring the old hotel in town for the last two years, I finally got a chance to see the rooms, thanks to some visitors from out of town who stayed there. It was pleasing: old embossed metal tiles on the high ceilings; lots of wood and old photographs on the walls.
But my heart skipped a beat when my friends pointed out the transoms above the doors. Without the transom you'd get no ventilation in an old hotel, but didn't they also ensure that the guests heard each step in the creepy interior hallway? They probably heard the goings-on in neighboring rooms, as well. The guests would have had to open the window to get a little air; just think of all the street noise.
It was so stuffy in those old rooms that I would never pay to stay there. It reminds one of the hot stuffy hotel rooms in the Coen brothers' "Barton Fink."
I didn't bring a camera, but perhaps it's just as well. Our fine old hotel wouldn't offer the camera-candy provided by more famous old hotels in bigger and older cities. There must be many old hotels -- some condemned -- in the hollowed-out interior of North America, especially away from the interstates. The Great Plains might be a good place to look for them.
There was enough to see in our little grand old hotel to create a mental playground. Imagine one of those transomed doors opening and out walks a sultry brunette who belongs in a 1940's film-noir classic. Dressed to kill (perhaps literally.) She gives each man who notices her a cold and dismissive half-glance. Then she briskly leaves the hotel.