November 8, 2012
UGLY HOTEL ARTWORK is a pretty competitive field. But here it is, hands down, the winner for worst-ever in-room picture.
This masterpiece hangs above the sofa in room 420 of the Novotel City Centre hotel in Accra, Ghana.
The rest of the room is done up in a semi-African motif, which makes this rendering even more of an insane non-sequitur than it would be anywhere else. Perhaps in a youth hostel or backpacker joint it wouldn’t seem so jarring and ridiculous. But it’s completely out of synch with the hotel’s decor, and there’s certainly nothing Ghanaian about it.
Despite its prominence over the couch, I didn’t even notice it until my third day in the room. For a few seconds I thought I was hallucinating.
Look closely in the lower left corner and you’ll see it’s embossed with an important-looking stamp marking its inclusion in the “Novotel Collection.” A prestigious piece this is.
I can’t make out who the artist was (initials DDR?), but this was a limited edition print, number 30 of 150, and it dates from 1997.
Here in Somerville, Massachusetts, we have the somewhat famous Museum of Bad Art. If this doesn’t deserve a place in MOBA’s galleries, I don’t know what does.
I thought about taking it with me — the theft of fine arts is a booming business, you know. But the piece is surprisingly well-secured in its frame.
I call it, “Air and Sea,” or “Oh Captain, My Captain.” (Artist unknown. Ink and crap on paper, 1997.)
The Accra Novotel is otherwise a decent place. It’s clean and comfortable, and the staff, like everybody in Ghana, is disarmingly friendly. The Sangaw bar, just off the lobby, is a quiet and cozy place to enjoy a cold bottle of Star. But it has its quirks. The Novotel, some readers might recall, was the home of this special cocktail promotion not long ago…
Apparently, if you’re West African, your idea of “Latino” is a crazy old woman smoking a gigantic cigar.
Ghana in general can be a little strange. A couple of months ago I was getting out of a taxi across the street from the Novotel. Directly in front of me was a newspaper kiosk, with the following staring me in the face…
So we know there are people who keep track of these things.
And we have to wonder, who finished first and second?
Aside from nauseating artwork and bizarre beverages, there are a lot of things to dislike about hotel rooms, even the fanciest and most expensive ones: temperamental air conditioning, toe-breaking doorjambs, ergonomically hellish “work spaces.”
And here’s another one: cardboard brochures. Nowadays, each and every hotel amenity, from room service to Wi-Fi, is hawked through one or more annoying advertisements displayed throughout the room. Cards, signs, menus, and assorted promotional materials—they’re everywhere: on the dresser, in the closet, on the pillows, in the bathroom. I wouldn’t mind if this laminated litter was placed unobtrusively, but it tends to be exactly in the way, and I resent having to spend five minutes after an exhausting red-eye, gathering up these diabolical doo-dads and heaving them into a corner where they belong. One’s first moments in a hotel room ought to feel welcoming, not confrontational.
Food and room service are another topic entirely. Speaking of West Africa, be careful never to dine at the Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Senegal, where the surly poolside waitress might, eventually, bring you the pizza you ordered ninety minutes ago, and where the in-room menu offers such delectables as:
Roasted Beef Joint on Crusty Polenta
The Cash of The Day
Paving Stone of Thiof and Aromatic Virgin Sauce
That last one sounds like a chapter from a fantasy novel. Head instead to La Layal, a great little Lebanese place up the street where, once you get past the Testicles with Garlic and the Homos with Chopped Meat, the menu is both coherent and tasty.
So anyway, the phones are open. If you’ve got a comparable example of hotel weirdness, let’s see it. I’ll add the best submissions to this post, or you can simply describe them in the comments section below.