The Curiosity Shop


We stayed a few days in a hotel room in Paris, France recently. We were in room 1506 on the 22 floor of a hotel chosen by the cruise line that brought us to Paris. The room was pretty and a person just looking at it would have been impressed. We were when we saw it. But we soon realized that it was designed by someone who cared about beauty but had no regard for function at all.

The room was rectangular, both to the right and straight ahead of you when you opened the door to the room. Inside and straight ahead was a hall to the bedroom and a long, shallow desk past the hall. Along the right side of this hall, as you entered, was first a wall with a thermostat and the master light switch, then a doorway to the bathroom, a closet, and finally a little square of bedroom, cut out of the otherwise rectangular bathroom-closet combitation. The square had the closet wall on the side nearest the door and a bathroom wall on the other side. Both sides of this extra little square of bedroom were mirrors from floor to ceiling. At the top was a square loop coming down from the ceiling. It could be used as a towel rack, which is what we did to avoid injury. The corners of it were rather sharp and for me its bottom was above eye level and below hair level, a perfect sort of object on which to seriously hurt myself. In the bedroom, the bathroom wall was all mirror from floor to ceiling and in the middle of it was a mirrored door without a latch. It had spring loaded hinges that would swing it hard against the mirror walls and make them vibrate. And they would cause the door to settle in a position about an inch and a half from being closed. The mirrors faced the bed, which was just beyond the bathroom on the right side of the room (as viewed when entering the room). The bed had a little night table on either side and the phone was on the table near the bathroom. There were two light switches, a spherical white glass lamp, and a reading lamp with its own switch all on the wall on each side of the head of the bed. That long, shallow desk near the foot of the bed had a coffee maker on the end nearest the hall and a TV mounted over it toward the other end. It the far end of the desk was another spherical, white lamp. Along the entire far (from the hall) wall of the room was a floor to ceiling curtain.

If you went in through the mirrored door to the bathroom you would be facing in the direction of the hall outside the room. The walls on either side of the door were mirrors inside the bathroom but on that side the door had no mirror. To the left was a sort of counter with a sink nearly as large as the counter in the center of it. Over the sink was a mirror with a light behind it and a non-silvered part of the mirror to one side that was a circle and a strip at the top that was not silvered so the light could shine through. On the left wall, opposite the sink was more floor to ceiling mirror. Beyond the sink was the shower. Like the bathroom entry nearest the outside hall, it had no door. It did have a glass wall along most of the end nearest the bed and along about 60% of the side. This kept most, but never all, of the water in the shower. But as far as we could tell it was impossible to not get a fair amount of water on the floor. The doorless entryway to the bathroom was opposite the far half of the shower, to the right as viewed from . The far end was a little water closet / potty closet that had a door and a light switch outside.

That may sound rather pretty and it was. But there are things you would soon realize if you were staying in the room.

The thermstat had no numbers on it. You could neither see how warm or cold the room was nor see what the target temperature was. The thermostat was made by Siemens, so I guess you can't blame the French for making it, only for buying it.

The placement of the doorless entryway to the bathroom, so near the door to the outside hall, meant that if someone were in the shower he or she would be visible to anyone taking one step in from the outside hall. No privacy there.

The mirrored walls and door outside the bathroom and the various mirrors inside the bathroom, all but one being floor to ceiling, made it very hard to tell if the mirrored door to the bathroom was fully open, partly open, or closed except for the inch and a half gap which was as close as it came to being closed. There were several times when I got out of bed and it was several seconds before my brain could figure out what I was looking at when I faced the bathroom.

The bathroom had a toilet paper holder next to the toilet and a holder for a spare below it just above the baseboard. When we checked into the room there were two rolls on the holder for the spare and none on the holder next to the toilet. That one next to the toilet came out from the wall to a right angle from which it went back, parallel to the floor and toward the wall behind the toilet. It was straight for the length of a role of toilet paper and then had a slight hook toward the wall it was attached to. I put one of the roles of paper on the holder and when I subsequently sat down my upper arm knocked the roll of toilet paper to the floor. I returned the roll to the spare holder and we didn't try using that misplaced toilet paper roll holder again.

There was very little storage in the room. The only two shallow drawers were in the bottom of the closet under the small safe. Our small cabin on the cruise ship had several times as much storage space.

The doorless shower made it impossible to keep the water in the shower. The floor always got water on it from each shower and had to be wiped up afterward.

The actions of electrical switches in the room were unpredictable. In the 4 days that we were there we never did figure out how they worked. For example, I wanted to use the little potty closet and the light was off inside it. I flipped the switch for the light and nothing happened. I flipped it back to where it had been and the light came on. Another example was one of the many unpredictable instances of flipping either of the switches by the head of the bed. I wanted to turn off the lights so we could go to sleep. Most of the lights in the room were on, but not all. I flipped the switch and the light over the end of the desk came on. Then I flipped it back to where it had been a moment before and every light in the room went off. At other times I had seen one of the switches by the bed turn off everything except the lights inside the bathroom. That may have been the other switch though.

The phone, next to the bed, was very modern looking. It had a plastic frame. On the left side the hand piece hung on a couple of small bumps on the frame. The rest of the phone was like an iPad. The screen and its electronics sat in a groove at the bottom of the frame and leaned back slightly on the frame. It was all a very precarious arrangement and I accidentally knocked the iPad part rather hard onto the night table and the hand piece onto the floor once when reaching for the light switch.

The controls for the shower were OK but a bit silly in one respect. They consisted of two buttons, each to toggle one of the two shower heads on and off. And there was a dial that controlled the water temperature and the silly part was there. If it were turned fully clockwise, it would turn about half way back counter clockwise giving you nothing but cold water. To get the dial to turn further you had to hold its button in for a moment to get past the beginning of the hot water. Then you could turn it up to really hot. Of course, in the normal course of using the shower the dial wouldn't ever get turned into the completely cold range so in reality the button served no purpose. Even if the dial got turned to give completely cold water the button only let you know when you were going from 100% cold water to 99% cold water.

The window to the outside was a disappointment. Behind the floor to ceiling curtain that covered one entire wall of the room was a small window and a lot of solid wall. We'd expected to look out over Paris through a huge window. No luck there. But it was a rather unlucky trip anyway because we were sick the entire stay in Paris and in those four days all we saw was the inside of our hotel room and the little restaurant off the lobby. It had wonderful breakfasts but the rest of the day most American fast food restaurants serve better food. And the coffee was tied for the most bitter, worst coffee we've ever had. It was tied with the coffee in a hotel in Maryland that we'd stayed in a month before. Ick!


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