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Hey, Merry Xmas! Or any other holiday you may be celebrating today. This means you! Yes, you. Happy holiday!
Speaking of holidays, I went to a great little festive party – emphasis on little – the other night. York Station in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Front Street is, according to my inside sources who cannot be named, the smallest bar in Toronto. And no, your mom’s kitchen is not in the running.
While I was at the party I met a man who lived in the hotel.Yes, he lives in the Royal York. Think about it … room service, maid service and the smallest bar in Toronto right outside your door. Wouldn’t you like to say you lived in a hotel? A lot of people have. In fact, there is a whole subculture of hotel dwellers around the world. Most famously, of course, is Eloise, the fictional six-year old who lives in the Plaza in New York and who has probably done more to up the glam quotient of hotel life than any flesh and blood celebrity.
So this man, Christopher Heard, is a biographer and he’s lived in the Royal York for two years. He must like it because he’s just written a book about it. It’s called the Suite Life and is due out in spring 2011. He’s also written a biography of Britney Spears and Keifer Sutherland. I mean, not about them together, but one book about each. And he’s interviewed Johnny Depp, too, lucky bastard.
In addition to Eloise and Christopher Heard and Howard Hughes, also a notorious hotel dweller according to Christopher, I recalled another hotel resident. She was an Eloise-like girl, except this was her real life. Her name was Helen McCann and she lived with her family at the incredibly elegant Beau-Rivage Palace, a grand hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva in Lausanne. I read about her when I stayed at the Beau-Rivage myself (Oh, lucky me! But why can’t I live there?) and her story stuck in my mind.
It was the heady days when Hemingway and Fitzgerald and untold other expats and writers were roaming Europe. The McCanns were from the USA and though very rich, weren’t totally high society back in the States because of their Irish Catholic heritage. Apparently, you needed to be Protestant to be American high society back then. But it seems they could be high society in a hotel, which was neutral ground.
Anyway, Helen and her sister Frances grew up in the hotel, and Helen, this is the bit I find fascinating, stayed at the Beau-Rivage right until she was 41 years old. 41! Can you even imagine staying in a hotel for three weeks much less four decades? That’s one looong vacation. So next time I write a letter to Santa, I’m going to ask for a decade at a luxury hotel in Switzerland. Right after Peace on Earth. Happy holidays.