I lay down a while and I gaze at my hotel-like facility wall
September 11, 2017 2:33 PM   Subscribe

So I’m listening to the John McEnroe episode of Desert Island Discs. At about 04:25 he starts telling an anecdote about meeting David Bowie, and he says that he and Bowie were staying at the same place in London: “It wasn’t a hotel but a hotel-like facility.” What is he talking about? What is a "hotel-like facility", if it's not a hotel? Are there secret places where only celebrities and/or the super-rich stay?

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posted by Beverley Westwood to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can't listen at work, but based on your description alone, possibly corporate apartments?
posted by Mchelly at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2017

posted by runincircles at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2017 [27 favorites]

I was going to suggest some kind of inpatient situation.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:42 PM on September 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Could be a club - they often have guest rooms for members to use when in the city, along with dining facilities and the like.
posted by devinemissk at 2:43 PM on September 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

This article refers to a 1982 instance of McEnroe meeting Bowie in London during Wimbledon. McEnroe was playing "Suffragette City" badly on his guitar and the Duke barged in.

Is there a private VIP facility for players and guests at Wimbledon?
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:46 PM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

In one of the more recent novels* of William Gibson, he describes a hotel-like facility which is not quite a hotel -- guests have more freedom, things are paid for indirectly, help is more like personal staff, etc. I don't know whether these already exist (it is soooo hard to tell with Gibson, sometimes), but if they do, it sounds like what you're talking about.

* I think it's in Pattern Recognition, but it might have been Spook Country or Zero History or more than one of these.
posted by ubiquity at 2:57 PM on September 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Apparently I'm the sole lowlife thinking "hotel-like" with, um, a certain clientele and a really, really dedicated and talented staff.

They made a movie about the one in Texas.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:06 PM on September 11, 2017 [20 favorites]

ubiquity, that's what I was thinking of. I believe it was Zero History and I think it was some sort of club.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:51 PM on September 11, 2017

It could have been a serviced apartment:
A serviced apartment is a completely furnished apartment available for both short-term and long- term stays. They are inclusive of utility bills and provide all of the hotel-like amenities such as maid service, reception and 24 hour customer service.
posted by unliteral at 4:01 PM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

At a certain level of rich and/or connected, people live in each others' houses. Richard Branson owns a mansion in London, stays there 7 weeks a year or whatever, rents parts of it out for business uses, and you might stumble over Bono in the Northwest Wing because he's in town for a couple days and a hotel's so public and impersonal. The house is staffed full time, various aspects of it are tax/business writeoffs, it's entirely possible that Bono's people receive some kind of invoice (I mean, probably not, but a John McEnroe might incur a bill) or that one could book such a place if one knew the right concierge/broker/assistant to call. It would function much like the Serviced Apartment above, but probably more fun and also a personal chef and the pool's got a disco ball in it or whatever.

There's also a long history of recording studios built into the sort of sprawling residential compounds as might accommodate a band + management + families/friends/entourage + producer + etc, so that bands can live/work right there. It's still very popular in the Caribbean, and there's a few around Los Angeles (as an example Max Martin does this, though on a smaller scale). I'm sure non-recording guest arrangements can be made in many of those places too.

Renting a whole staffed home isn't that unusual, and with the right kind of property renting or borrowing part of one isn't that strange.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:12 PM on September 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

In an earlier version of the anecdote, he called it a hotel flat.
Bowie said it was a hotel.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:19 PM on September 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

When Kim Kardashian reported she'd been robbed at gunpoint, there was coverage of the hôtel particulier where it happened. That seems to be the French variant of a mansion house, a big estate divided into (large) apartments privately offered to the wealthy, all rather hush hush. So in answer to your last question, yes. There are such places.
posted by fedward at 7:07 PM on September 11, 2017

Speaking of "hotel flats", I stayed in one for ~6 months in Brussels for work. Effectively it was a small apartment with a kitchen but got routine maid service. There was a small business services staff that could help out with things as well.
posted by mmascolino at 8:20 AM on September 12, 2017

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