Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When is a Hotel Not a Hotel?

Answer: When it’s in Australia.

It’s said that Eskimos have dozens of words for snow. I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems plausible. In a possibly related linguistic quirk, Australians seem to have developed several different words for “drinking establishment.” If you want to go out for a drink down under (as opposed to picking up something at a “bottle shop” to drink at home), you can go to a bar, a pub, a club, or, confusingly, a hotel.

Hotels in Australia always have beer, but they don’t necessarily have rooms. I learned this the hard way when I emailed the Harbour View Hotel in Sydney. I knew of it because it played a boardinghouse in my favorite Australian movie (Starstruck), and I thought it would be fun to stay there.

I wrote asking how much rooms cost, and wondered why they didn’t seem to be in a hurry to take my money. I finally got a politely restrained note back explaining that they aren’t a hotel you can stay at. That was disappointing, but maybe it’s for the best. The hotel seems to be right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and it probably would have been too noisy for sleeping anyway.

If anyone has a recommendation for a moderately priced hotel in Sydney, please let me know!


Eric Fischer said...

The explanation of this I heard (from someone born in Australia) is that traditionally, hotels were the *only* businesses licensed to sell alcohol. People that wanted to open bars but didn't really want to run a hotel would open tiny hotels with only one or two rooms, and more or less permanently rent the room to an employee or friend, so they could follow the letter of the law without having to actually deal with most of the trouble involved in running a normal hotel.

Nicole said...

Oh, that makes a certain kind of sense. Thanks for letting me know!

John said...

the YMCA or is that YWCA is about as good as it gets in terms of affordability/comfort/cleanliness