It’s Sunday evening and I’ve been living for five days at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. I’m at the lobby bar now drinking an Americano laced with a perfectly legal tincture of THC, eavesdropping on my fellow guests and making small talk with the bartenders as I play out this lifelong dream.
Did you know that I have always wanted to live in a hotel? It’s true — ever since I saw Kenny Rogers talk about it on Letterman back in the 1980s. After his divorce (First, second, third? Who knows — the guy was married five times) he moved into Caesars’s Palace in Las Vegas and ended up staying there for like two years. Good enough for the Gambler, good enough for me.
Did you know my own wedding was at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas? It’s true.
I’ve been hitting the gym every morning — not too hard — and enduring the sauna for as long as I can stand it. I’ve been walking the neighborhoods relentlessly each day; the Plaza is right off Boston Common, near Chinatown and the Charles River, within an hour’s walk of virtually every point in the city proper.
Though I grew up in the Northeast, this is my first time in Boston, and I’m struck by so many things. It’s an old city, founded in 1630, and the crooked streets by the Old North Church, made for horses not for cars, feel like narrow hallways. There’s a statue of an abolitionist in Boston Garden across the street, another of a Union soldier. Somewhere else there’s a statue dedicated to the medicinal use of ether. I haven’t found it yet. And though Bostonians quite resent the comparison, there are echoes of New York — a city I know well — everywhere I look: in the architecture, on the waterfront, in Little Italy and Chinatown and the Theater District.
But the sidewalks are less crowded and not speckled with dark spots that used to be gum; it lacks the drone of bus and train layered with the constant punctuation of car horns; and it doesn’t smell here, not like diesel fumes and not like urine and not like burning rubber, not even on the subways. This morning I walked by a fountain near Boston Garden and it smelled like… clean, unchlorinated water. I barely recognized it.
There is no better way to experience a city than to live in one of its downtown hotels. And there is no better living than hotel living. Kenny Rogers knew it, so do I. And now you do too.