[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Home suite home
A Travelodge
Perks at Travelodge include goldfish
One couple has spent 22 years staying in a Travelodge, but why would anybody want to live in a hotel permanently?

Some people who stay in hotels all the time love complaining about them. Whether it's rock stars who are on the road permanently or footballers waiting for construction to finish on their McMansion, there is ennui.

Alan Partridge was famously driven to such despair by life in a motorway Travel Tavern that he railed: "I was at a friend's house the other night. I was trying to make a phone call, I thought there was something wrong with the phone. I'd been hitting nine. I felt like a ruddy idiot. I just left, I couldn't stay there after that."

Fiction's other well-known permanent hotel guest, Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers, seemed to while away his time with the fortunes of the England cricket team, casual racism and looking forward to his first drink of the day in the bar. Why he was living in the hotel was never quite made clear.


Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, says permanent hotel residents are not a common phenomenon, but he can see the benefits.

"It used to be more common - people who had the money, perhaps people who would otherwise live in old people's homes.

"A lot of things are done for you, you don't have to change the sheets or tidy the bathroom. On the other hand you are limited in the amount of possessions you can have."

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty, Joan Sanderson as Mrs Richards, and Ballard Berkeley as Major Gowen
No one knew why Major Gowen lived at Fawlty Towers
Up until the 1980s the Crieff Hydro hotel in Perthshire did have a cadre of elderly, permanent residents, but now these hotel lifers have passed away. Some luxury hotels have apartment blocks attached where guests might get some of the hotel services, but they are not aimed at the elderly.

Residential homes have apparently taken up the slack, offering luxury to those people not in need of nursing care who might once have plumped for a hotel.

Not that permanent hotel life was just for the elderly. With his father a senator, former US vice-president Al Gore lived in a hotel for much of the year during his childhood.

Biographers David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima wrote: "He grew up in a singularly odd world of old people and bellhops, separated from the child-filled neighbourhoods of his classmates."


It has been suggested this might have contributed to his occasional difficulty in self-presentation.

There is also a long tradition of writers and artists living for long periods in hotels, their physical needs catered for so their mind could run unfettered.

The Savoy Hotel in London - which counts Monet and a string of writers among its former customers - now has a writer in residence scheme.

The humorist and novelist Kathy Lette spent nearly four months occupying a suite overlooking the Thames as part of the scheme and never tired of dialling nine for an outside line.

Chelsea Hotel in New York
New York's Chelsea Hotel is famous for its artistic residents
"It was divine. A life of luxury, of dialling your fingers to the bone to room service. It's like living in a giant ocean liner. You have the endless fabulous drama of people coming and going, and the mistresses and lovers.

"I had a staff of 500 at my beck and call, maids delivered fresh flowers every day. I got my own dish on the menu a Kathy Ome-Lette. I wouldn't leave."

Afterwards, her months of living in luxury left her keen to do writing workshops in prison to redress the karmic balance, but she remembers the hotel being helpful to the point of doing her children's homework.

"The concierges have to do whatever you ask them. I would ring up and say 'what's the square root of the hypotenuse?'"

The hotel's most famous permanent resident was Richard Harris, who lived there while in London. Hotel archivist Susan Scott recounts an anecdote that when he was being taken out of the building on a stretcher shortly before his death he raised his hand and told the diners "it was the food".

It's a long way from the Savoy to the Linton Travel Tavern, but the joy of not changing your own sheets remains.

Below is a selection of your comments.

As an independent consultant, I spend four nights a week, every week living in the luxury of a Travel Inn. This allows me to take contracts anywhere within the UK, with a consistent/affordable level of service and accommodation. And with no phone, you don't get used to dialling '9'...
Aaron Cain, Calne UK

As nursing homes (old people's home) are so expensive in America, many Americans are opting to join cruises. Cruises can start as low as $6,000 for a 12-month cruise and this covers everything. Where my parents live, outside of Chicago, the average price of a nursing home is $1,800 a month. Their friends have sold up and have been on a cruise for three years now, much cheaper and they get to meet new people all the time.
Holly, Watford, UK

As the daughter of a hotelier, I lived in many hotels as we traipsed around the world. As a teenager, I loved having my own private bathroom, but hated the constant and imminent intrusion of housekeeping into my life. I was also not allowed to eat (or drink!) from the minibar, and the constant temptation was nerve wracking. I once ate a chocolate bar and carefully refilled the wrapping paper with tissue to make it look full! Having a TV in your own room also meant many late and sleepless nights, making going to school in the morning a nightmare. Basically, the way I see it, once you've memorised the menu in all the hotel restaurants, it's time to leave.
Eda, Istanbul

While a student in Barcelona in 1990 I lived in a "hostel" basically a very basic hotel for most of the year that I lived there. It was a very enjoyable experience and not a lot more expensive than other options. In particular, I enjoyed meeting lots of other people travelling through and there were a couple of other long-term residents.
Roger, London

If I had a suite I would be more than happy to live in a hotel (I work in an office and still dial 9 at home to get an outside line). My idea of total luxury is to have the bed sheets changed EVERY day - by someone else.
Gill Mortimer, Bolton

I once lived in the Hotel Balima, Rabat, Morocco for a few weeks. It was great, no chores to do, no cleaning, no cooking, supplemented meals with loads of fresh fruit, and had a fantastic view from my private terrace overlooking the main avenue and the city. It also gave me time to think, read, draw etc. Now , at present , drowning in work and with the house and garden in a state of neglect, living for at least a spell in a hotel with some of the same characteristics, seems to me a wonderful idea.
Matrob, Jaen, Spain

No one needs to know why the Major stayed at Fawlty Towers, he just did. Like a lot of elderly people until not all that long ago. The two old dears were surely also permanent residents in that series! The benefits are apparent and we don't need to have them pointed out to us. If you had the money, why not! The couple who recently made headlines and started this thread also owned a flat in Sheffield but as it was on the first floor, the lady could not manage the stairs. So they would presumably have retained all their belongings in the flat, only keeping their personal belongings and a few mementos to hand at the motel. Not quite the same for them though, as nipping to the near by Little Chef for food is not the same as the Major descending the stairs at Fawlty Towers to take his place in the dining room for his three meals each day. Best stamp out that casual racism though. "I took her to see India you know..."
Tiberious, Glasgow

As an IT contractor across Europe for many years I lived in hotels for almost 3 1/2 years. The person above you said "Once you memorise the menu it's time to go" is telling the truth. The worst part was having no personal belongings around you as they had to be packed up every morning. The best parts were no hassles about cleaning and knowing you can get a drink at any time of the day or night.
Damian Jauregui, Cardiff

I work in Brussels and live in an apartment hotel. My flat is nicely furnished and housekeeping comes in once a week to change the sheets and towels, take out the rubbish and do all my cleaning. It's twice the rent of an ordinary flat, but oh so convenient!
Katie, Brussels, Belgium

I have reservations about living in a hotel.
Alan Thomas, Shepperton

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific