Thursday, March 05, 2009

Hotel Voyeurism and Inspiration

As I mentioned below, we have many more talented storytellers who’ve signed on to entertain us in Suite 69 over the next week or so. In fact, I just got a very lovely and evocative piece from Isabel Kerr set in a Swiss hotel which she'll share right here very soon. This is definitely synchronicity, because my topic for today is the European hostelry in its many forms: castle hotels, grand hotels, petit bourgeois three-star lodgings, spicy Gasthäuser, budget-friendly student dives. Although most American hotels offer a certain standard of service—individual bathrooms, air-conditioning, TV’s—European hotels have much more personality, as distinctive and unpredictable as a foreign film. And you know how much I love foreign films.

Before kids, my husband and I went to Europe several times, either as part of one of his many business trips or to burn through frequent flier miles. The hotels where we stayed are particularly fresh in my memory—name the city and I can describe the room, the breakfast, and add in a quirky story or two about the awful shower or the strange hotel clerk or even the sex we had, if you give me a glass of wine first. But today I’ll settle on a clean and fancy one, a grand hotel in central Austria called Schloss Durnstein, which is situated right on the banks of the Danube. This was one of our splurge hotels on our trans-Austrian vacation and these places tend to make me feel unworthy and gauchely American.

Our first morning at the Schloss, over a breakfast of rolls, Swiss cheese, fruit and coffee from a silver pitcher, I happened to notice a handsome thirtyish man eating alone at one of the better tables overlooking the river. Soon an older woman—not at all pretty, but extremely self-possessed and impeccably attired—entered the dining room and approached his table. The man immediately jumped up, almost clicking his heels, and with a look close to adulation, leaned over to kiss the woman’s outstretched hand.

I’m sure my eyes were saucers. My god, European men really did kiss ladies’ hands, just like in the movies. Or at least aristocratic types like this pair still followed that old-fashioned custom. Maybe the woman was a Baroness, a Hapsburg descendant? As I ogled and fantasized, the handsome man glanced over and caught me staring, sending a withering look in my direction.

Ten years later, this became the opening scene in my story, “Watch on the Danube” which was published in Xcite’s anthology, Seriously Sexy 2 (which also has an awesomely hot story by Sommer Marsden called "Scrapbook Pages"). A romantically-minded American tourist witnesses this same kiss in the morning and spies yet another more intimate interaction between the same aristocratic pair later that provides inspiration for her own act of exhibitionism. While you nibble on this snippet of hotel sex prose in honor of the release of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories, help yourself to the buffet at Schloss Durnstein, a lavish spread with crusty rolls with Black Forest ham and Emmenthaler cheese, creamy yogurt and muesli, fresh fruit in season, soft-boiled eggs, and yeasty Austrian coffee cake. Bon Appetit!

From "Watch on the Danube" by Donna George Storey

Pru walked over to the sliding glass doors and pressed her fingers to the cool glass. Their room was small. But the view of the Danube flowing right beneath them made it worth every penny, she thought, as her eyes drank in the glowing gibbous moon, the twinkling lights of the town on the far bank blending into the stars, the great river rushing through the night, as if drawn ever onward by some dark, searching hunger.

Then she saw them, silhouetted against a golden square of window floating high in the stone wall of the old wing of the hotel. She guessed it was the tower suite, resting atop the old manor house like a crown. She could see no features, only shadowy forms, but she could tell it was the Baroness and her lover, her slight figure in front, his taller, stockier body behind. At first they seemed to be just standing there, taking in the view, but as her eyes adjusted, Pru saw that they were moving, swaying. Now and again, the woman arched her head back and seemed to shiver.

“Oh, my god, Adam, come here. It’s them. I think they’re actually fucking out there.”

“Who? The anorexic vampire and her bodyguard?” Adam called from the bathroom. “Don’t tell me they have to nerve to be doing it on our balcony?”

“No, but almost as bad. They’re screwing in front of their window with the lights on.”

In an instant he was beside her, dressed in the hotel’s thick terry robe, smelling of toothpaste.

“Should’ve brought the binoculars, huh?” He squinted up at the window. “Yep, they’re fucking. And I think you’re right. She’s married and he’s not. He has something to prove.”

“Maybe it was her idea.”

Adam raised an eyebrow. “Maybe.”

Suddenly Pru felt her cheeks go hot. “If we’re going to stand here, we have to turn out our light. They’ll see us watching.”

Adam just grinned. “That’s probably why they’re doing it.”

“It can’t be.” Pru snapped off the bedside lamp. The room fell into darkness, lit only by the glow of the bathroom light. “They don’t care about us. We’re just peasants. Dust balls in the corner. They’re showing off for the great Danube. For the ghosts of her Hapsburg ancestors. For history itself.”

Adam didn’t snicker, as she feared he might. He gazed up at the couple, still moving together in their slow, subtle dance. He stepped behind her and embraced her. She could feel his erection through the robe.

Pru leaned back into him, still slightly woozy from the wine. An image flashed into her head—she and Adam stepping onto a boat and gliding off through a thick, warm mist....


Emerald said...

Oh my goodness that was beautiful. Wow. It just immediately transported me to that place I have experienced your writing before, that is hard to describe but quite distinct. That was stunning, Donna. Thank you.

Neve Black said...

There's something particulary sexy and highly erotic about watching or hearing other people having sex while you're away from home. I've had the pleasure of experiencing the aural on more than one occassion, and now I feel I've also enjoyed your couple's visual experience here.

Thank you. :-)

Craig Sorensen said...

Ooh! Sexy!

It's nice to be back in Europe, watching hot sex across the way. A great excerpt.

I love the story at the Schloss with the hand-kissing gentleman.

Here's a little secret though, I've occasionally been moved to kiss the hand of a lady.

Donna said...

Thank you, everyone. Glad you enjoyed the scenery from the Danube!

And Craig, that gentlemanly hand kissing stuff? It's fuckin' sexy as hell ;-).

Erobintica said...

That was very nice Donna. I'm fascinated with jumping off points - like the hand-kissing story.

EllaRegina said...


Isabel Kerr said...

Lovely, lovely, Donna. I can just see it!

Thank you for the mention, and I look forward to reading all the upcoming stories too. You're opening a Danube sized floodgate of memories...

Jeremy Edwards said...

Mmm ... what an Old World delicacy of an excerpt!