Rooms at The Grandest Hotel on Earth – Lisa Nicol

How did you go imagining rooms?

When I go on school visits, one of my favourite things to do is read the chapter on ROOMS from Vincent and The Grandest Hotel on Earth. At this moment in the story, Vincent has arrived for a tour of the hotel. Before he begins working as the hotel’s shoeshine boy, he gets to be a guest for a day. The chapter on rooms gives you some idea of what an incredible place the Grand is….

I hope you enjoy!

ROOMS

Back at the front desk, Rupert began allocating rooms for the new guests. ‘How we do this is I make suggestions and you pick whatever rrr-room appeals,’ he explained.

‘First, Mrs Peters. I think you and Max might enjoy our Inflatable Room.’ Rupert always recommended the Inflatable Room to families with children who couldn’t be left alone for a second without wreaking havoc and raining down disaster upon everyone. Then their parents could take a load off for a minute, and have a small drink in the lounge knowing their darling little hell raisers were safe and sound and not getting up to any mischief that might break the bank of China. ‘Every piece of furniture is inflatable. Max, you can bounce off the walls as much as you like in there. Alternatively there’s the Fluffy Room where everything’s fluffy. Or the Pouch Room. Both wonderfully calming.’

‘THE INFLATABLE ROOM, THE INFLATABLE ROOM!’ yelled Max.

A completely frazzled Mrs Peters looked relieved and decided the Inflatable Room would be perfect. Rupert winked at her and leaned across the front desk. ‘Did I mention it was completely fireproof too?’ he whispered. ‘He could throw a Molotov cocktail in there and nothing would so much as smoulder.’

Mrs Peters exhaled and did her best too arrange her exhausted face into a smile. It had been so long her facial muscles struggled to recall what to do.

A porter scooped Max up onto his shoulders, grabbed their bags and off they went. Max could be heard yelling ‘giddy up!’ and ‘faster faster!’ until they disappeared out of sight.

Next up were an old man and his granddaughter. Vincent couldn’t help but notice they had the saddest eyes.

‘Ah Grandpa Peach and lovely Lily. Oh, how we love grandparents at The Grand! I guess that’s stating the obvious. Now, how about the Levitation Room? Incredibly uplifting! Or the Laughter Room? As long as you’re not wearing tight clothing or you’ll burst your buttons. Oh no,’ said Rupert, consulting the bookings book again, ‘You’re here for a week. More than a night in the Laughter Room is exhausting. What about our Sparkles Room? You’ve never seen anything quite as sparkly. And the bathroom’s full of lovely sparkly things, sparkly lip gloss, sparkly shampoo, even the bath water twinkles. It’s phosphorescence, all natural. Just switch off the lights before you jump in. And there’s sparkly bathrobes too of course.’

The sparkly bathrobes clinched it and Grandpa Peach and Lily practically twinkled themselves as they headed off to their room.

Next up was the little girl with the wobbly walk and her mother who clutched her hand tight as a bird on a branch in high winds.

‘Ah, April! I have just the room for you,’ said Rupert. ‘It’s the Baby Memories Room, where you can remember absolutely everything since the minute you were born. Your first cuddle, your first warm bath, the first time you heard a bird! Wondrous!’

Vincent thought remembering meeting his mum and dad for the first time would be incredible! I wonder what I was thinking?

Rupert bent down and whispered in April’s ear ‘It’s one of our most special rooms only available for our most special guests.’

April smiled and looked up at her mum who nodded.

‘Oh look, here comes Polly,’ said Rupert. ‘She’ll take you to your room.’ A tiny pony trotted over. She had on a large headdress – a dramatic pinwheel of red and turquoise beads and magnificent eagle feathers. April wrapped her arms around its neck. An attendant appeared, lifted her up onto Polly’s back and off they trotted to the Baby Memories Room.

Next up was the D’Silva family (previously known as the Ski-Jump-For-a-Nose family, which – I’ll admit – was a tad rude and disrespectful, but as my co-author pointed out, frighteningly accurate.) None of the D’Silvas had been the least bit impressed with The Grand. The boys barely looked up from their phones while Mr and Mrs D’Silva seemed to find a problem with pretty much everything. Apparently they’d stayed in every single one of the world’s most expensive hotels – a piece of information they were extremely skilled at dropping into every conversation. You could have asked them for the time and their answer still would have begun with: ‘Well, when we were staying at The Royal Palace in Morocco … Blah blah blah’. You get the idea, right?

‘What about the Room of the Unexpected?’ suggested Rupert, gleefully. ‘Many of our well-travelled guests enjoy the Unexpected.’

‘Definitely not. We hate surprises. The D’Silvas are natural born leaders,’ said Mrs D’ Silva. ‘We like to be in control at all times’.

‘And plus, you never know what a surprise is going to cost!’ chimed in Mr D’Silva.

‘Well how about a bit of indoor skiing? Our Winter Wonderland Room has brilliant powder at the moment.’ Rupert made skiing motions, poking his bottom out and shifting his weight from side-to-side as if he was flying down a slalom course at high speed.

‘No,’ snapped Mrs D’Silva, shaking her head vigorously. ‘We only ever ski Aspen. And the last time we went the boys refused to leave the lodge. There was no wi-fi on the slopes. Can you believe that?’

‘Right you are,’ replied Rupert, happily. He was used to fussy guests. ‘The African Sky Room? You’d swear you were on the plains of Africa and the feeling of space is truly transcendent.’

‘Most certainly not. The African plains are for dung beetles not the D’Silvas,’ declared Mrs D’Silva.

‘What about our Tropical Island Room? It’s Caribbean to be precise.’ Rupert’s hips appeared to be hearing a band of steel drums from Trinidad and Tobago as they wiggled about while the top half of his body remained mysteriously still.

Mrs D’Silva rolled her eyes. Her lips squirmed like poisoned slugs. ‘We’ve just come from Barbados. Weren’t even allowed to drive our 4WD onto the beach! Something about nesting turtles. I mean, I ask you, how were we supposed to get to the water … walk?’

‘Indeed,’ said Rupert. ‘Hmmm. What about our Butterfly Room? There’s over ten thousand different species. It’s enchanting. Like being inside a kaleidoscope And you wouldn’t expect it but they’re terribly affectionate butterflies.’

‘No. Definitely not. Flappy things. Dis-gusting. And where there are butterflies there’s bound to be caterpillars. Re-volting.’

‘Hmm, that’s the Glow-worm Room out then. The Baby Owls and Toy Train Room perhaps? The track goes right round the room perimeter and these baby owls just seem to love it! They ride around for hours. It really is one of my favourite rooms. Wait to you see them hop on and off, all fluff and eyes and tiny beaks,’ enthused Rupert, totally unable to hide his passion.

‘No animals! Unless we’re selecting them for dinner! Hahaha,’ laughed Mrs D’Silva. When she laughed she threw her head back and you could see right up her nose.

‘Of course.’

‘Crashing Waves Room?’

‘If we wanted waves we would have gone on a cruise, man.’

‘The Sunrise Room? The view is spectacular!’

‘Gawd, no. We like to lie in.’

‘How about the Sunset Room then? The whole room is bathed in the most beautiful golden light. It truly is otherworldly.’

‘What if it’s cloudy?’ piped up Mr D’Silva. ‘We’ll take it if you give us a written guarantee there’ll be no clouds. And a full refund if there is!’

‘The Virtuoso Room? You can pick up any instrument and play it like an absolute master.’

‘The D’Silvas don’t play,Rupert. People play for the D’Silvas.’ Mrs D’Silva pursed her lips tight like a cat’s bottom.

‘The Breathtaking Room?’

‘Don’t tell me. It’s breathtaking?’ replied Mrs D’Silva, sarcastically. ‘I’m so bored with breathtaking.’

‘Anti-gravity room?’

The three boys looked up from their phones, blinked, then returned to their screens.

‘Do we look like astronauts to you?’ snapped Mrs D’Silva.

‘Milky Way Room? It’s on the top floor. Brilliant stargazing. It’s not unusual to see hundreds of falling stars in a single night. In fact the lass who’s in the Guinness World Records for seeing the most falling stars, did so in our Milky Way Room!’ declared Rupert, proudly, his head wobbling like a dashboard doggy.

‘Falling stars are so overrated. I have no idea why people get so excited by a bit of burning rock. Do you, Harold?’

‘No, dear, I don’t.’

Vincent was shocked. He would have given anything to see a falling star, but the brown pongy fog from FishyKitty’s ruled out any sort of stargazing in Barry. The D’Silvas turned their already turned up noses at everything! Vincent thought it a mystery how Rupert didn’t bonk them on the head.

Everyone except Rupert was surprised when the D’Silvas settled on Le Pomme Frites Chambre, which is just a standard hotel room except for two small sliding doors in the wall. Every time you open the first door you’re presented with a bowl of freshly cooked hot chips, a side order of chicken salt and tomato sauce. No matter how fast you open it! (Or how many times. Those D’Silva boys gave it an absolute flogging.) The second door took away the empty bowls, so no one could ever know how many you’d actually eaten. Not even the cleaners. Rupert had found a lot of posh people liked Le Pomme Frites Chambre, which was French for the Hot Chip Room.

‘Ah Mr Cash,’ said Rupert, looking at the stressed-out businessmen who was now twitching in time to the constant stream of message alert dings on his phone. ‘I highly recommend the Room of the Short Pause. You just have to remember, when you turn on a tap, it’ll be a minute or two before the water flows. Same with the lights. Even if you open the window expect a short pause before the breeze arrives. Trust me, you’ll be relaxed in no time. Or perhaps the Transit Room? It’s just like a bustling airport lounge. Here at The Grand we find terribly busy people like yourself struggle to relax unless you’re on your way somewhere.’

A look of hope flashed across the tired businessman’s face. ‘You’re right! I’m always missing my plane because I’ve fallen asleep in the gold class lounge. And the rest of the time I can’t sleep. I’ll take it,’ Mr Cash picked up his briefcase and dashed off twitching to the Transit Room.

Next up was Chelsea. She turned down the Bird’s Nest Room, the Jelly Pool Room, the Cloud Room, the Moonlit Room and the Rocking Horse Racetrack Room before settling on the Arcade and Rollercoaster Room. Her poor father looked queasy and turned the colour of an uncooked prawn when he discovered even the beds were attached to rollercoasters.

‘Don’t worry,’ whispered Rupert into Chelsea’s dad’s ear. ‘The Arcade and Rollercoaster Room adjoins the Japanese Wishing Well Room. You can slip on a Kimono and slide in there when you’ve had enough of the Midnight Dipper and make a wish or two. Extremely tranquil.’

Chelsea’s father looked relieved and scurried off after his daughter.

Finally it was Vincent’s turn.

‘Now, Vincent! What have we got for you.’

The needle on Vincent’s thrill-o-meter nudged past Christmas again.

Rupert smiled and flicked through his bookings book. Vincent was amazed he wasn’t the slightest bit grumpy or weary after dealing with such fussy guests.

‘Hmm. What about the Edible Room?’ he suggested brightly. Vincent did appear in need of a good feed. His legs were so skinny they looked as if he’d swallowed two whole apples and they’d got stuck – right where his knees were meant to be. ‘The carpet comes in chewy caramel or cookies ’n’ cream and you can select sweet or savoury walls, whatever you prefer. You can lick, lick, lick away! And the peanut butter lampshades and the never-melting chocolate couch are to-die-for delicious, trust me. Or if you’re after a bit of excitement, what about the Experiments Room? You can blow things up to your heart’s delight in there. Or our Tiny Creatures Room? There’s mice, pygmy possums, baby hedgehogs, chipmunks, hamsters. Or how about the International Space Station Room? the actual view from the Station is beamed down onto all four walls which means sixteen sunsets and sunrises every day! And you’re weightless of course. Except in the bathroom. That’d just be too tricky. Or one of my favourites the Velcro Room. You can walk up the walls and across the ceiling, it’s fabulous fun! And very practical too if you don’t like hanging up your clothes or you tend to lose things. You just throw everything against the wall.’

Vincent looked wide-eyed at Rupert.

‘How can I possibly choose between sixteen sunsets and peanut butter-flavoured lampshades?’ he said. ‘I’d like to stay in every single one of those rooms.’

‘Or combine them all into one! Wouldn’t THAT be grand? As long as you didn’t blow up any tiny creatures I think it’s a marvellous mix. I’ll look into it,’ Rupert scribbled a note in his bookings book. ‘But for now, if your heart’s no help can I suggest a process of logical elimination?’

Vincent followed Rupert advice. ‘Okay, Florence did mention buffet breakfast and something about chocolate fountains. So I guess I should rule out the Edible Room. I definitely don’t want to miss out on chocolate fountains because I’ve stuffed myself with too much caramel carpet.’ Vincent reminded himself that just two days ago he was dreaming of a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a sports drink and NOW he was turning down an entire edible room. Next Vincent eliminated the International Space Station Room. While he couldn’t quite believe he was about to pass up the opportunity to fly right around the Earth every ninety minutes, he’d never dreamed of being an astronaut so perhaps now wasn’t the time to start. Given his track record in science he felt it best to steer clear of the Experiments Room. It had taken almost two months for his eyebrows to grow back after his last efforts. Which left the Velcro Room and the Tiny Creatures Room.

‘This is impossible!’

Rupert knew too much choice – for someone who never had any – could be decidedly not grand indeed. ‘I’ve got it!’ he announced. ‘How about the Puppy Room? Basically you’ll just be sleeping with all our left over pocket dogs. There’s at least another fifty who don’t have a nice warm guest to cuddle up to tonight. So you’d be doing us a favour. And someone from front desk comes and takes them all out for a pee before you turn in.’

The red needle on Vincent’s thrill-o-meter smashed through Christmas and pinged off into the universe somewhere. It felt like yet another scoop of ice-cream had been plonked on top of his towering cone! He wondered just how many scoops he could take before the whole thing toppled over!

A whole night with a roomful of pocket dogs! ‘I’ll take it!’ he said.

 

 

 

 

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