I’ve been doing a lot of work on scene-setting over the last six months or so, aiming to add depth to my settings. As it’s easy to forget the importance of minor locations, I’ve been paying attention to places I go and thinking about how I’d set that scene in a story.
One scene I have examined like this is a hotel lobby and I intend to use it in a story I’m working on at the moment. In this case it’s a four-star hotel in England, definitely not a typical budget hotel—as you’ll hopefully see!
Entering the lobby through large revolving doors, a whirring sound draws my attention to the crystal-clear glass, etched with the name of the hotel in a band across the centre. The glass is so clean that the frosted typeface is the only evidence of it’s presence. The door frame is glossy black, so clean it looks untouched by the human hand, and beside it, guiding me to follow the seemingly weightless door is a polished brass rail. Unlike the pristine frame, the rail displays evidence of human contact, a few smudged fingerprints—left by my fellow guests.
The door capsule delivers me from the cold outside, and warmth hits me like a blanket at the same time as my nostrils fill with a clean-linen freshness, and the unmistakable aroma of luxurious upholstery. Beneath my feet, I’m cushioned by a thick, claret carpet that stretches out to three shiny lift doors twenty paces away. One opens with a gentle ding, like a passenger call button on an aircraft, and a suited gentleman steps out.I approach the reception desk to my left, where I’m met with a smile, a greeting and an enquiry about my journey. My fingers brush over the edge of the smooth black oak surface, before I pull them away, remembering the smudged fingerprints on the brass handle—afraid to be the one who spoils the perfect finish.
Once my checkin is complete, I head for the lifts and press the call button, initiating another reassuring ding before stepping into the mirror lined box and selecting my level from the numbered panel. The doors close behind me, hiding the bright lights of the hotel lobby, and initiating the gentle upward motion that I can only feel as it takes me to another place.
I won’t use all of that unless there’s a reason for so much detail, but having it as a guide to the setting helps me to picture it, to feel like I’m there while I’m writing the scene, hopefully transferring to the reader as much detail as they need to help them feel like they’re there too.
Would you imagine something else, different or extra? I’d love to hear what details you would add or change.
How does this compare to other hotels around the world?