by Arthur Hailey

Hardcover, 1965



The bestselling author of Airport reveals the inner workings of a New Orleans hotel-and the human drama unfolding behind its closed doors. During five sultry days, the lives of the guests, the management, and the workers at New Orleans's largest and most elite hotel converge. The owner has four days to raise the money to save his financially ailing property. The general manager, once blacklisted from the hospitality business, struggles with one crisis after another. A rebellious heiress will do anything to attain her secret desires. The duke and the duchess in the lavish presidential suite are covering up a crime. And within one of the many guest rooms hides a professional thief. Filled with memorable characters and authentic detail about the inner machinery and secrets of a five-star hotel, this gripping New York Times bestseller sold millions of copies and was adapted for both film and TV. Set in a time when travel was still glamorous and grand independent hotels set the standard for luxury, it's like a vacation in itself, from the author of such behind-the-scenes blockbusters as The Moneychangers and Wheels.… (more)

Library's rating


½ (211 ratings; 3.5)

User reviews

LibraryThing member princess_Div
The first book I read written by Arthur Hailey and it made me want to read more of his books.The book totally changed my view of looking at large hotels and the things that happen within.Well written with a simple language.A great book that i would recommend to all who haven't read any of Hailey's
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LibraryThing member Aswathi84
An intriguing book on the hotels.. The plot is much better than Airport
LibraryThing member basusipra
During five days in the midst of a hot, steamy Louisiana summer, the lives of a colorful cast of characters intertwine in a series of public, private, and personal dramas at the famed St. Gregory luxury hotel.
LibraryThing member pussreboots
Great story of things going wrong.
LibraryThing member ozzieslim
Sometimes it is fun to revisit an author or book we may have read a long time ago or to try a book by an author who once had their hands firmly grasped about the neck of the bestseller list. Such was the case for me when my Bookbub threw “Hotel” onto the list. I was in need of a story and this
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book provided it.

In the current edition, the author included a forward noting that the book had originally been written in the 1960's at a time when the South, and the whole country in fact, were in the process of desegregating. He wanted to note that some of the ideas and the language had become dated. I thought that was insightful and useful for younger readers who may not have realized the significance or realized when the book was actually written.

Set in the fictional St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans, the book is set over a one week period in the life of the hotel. The book is broken into days of the week and each day into several smaller chapters. I applaud the author: he really did his homework in terms of getting into the inner workings of the hotel business and showing what goes on behind the scenes. No area of the hotel is spared – we see it all, from the basement to the penthouse.

Set against the day to day workings, there are other stories being told. A failing effort to secure the financial future by the current owner; an attempt at take over by the owner of a burgeoning hotel chain (possibly a nod to Conrad Hilton); scandal among the staff; a thief who specializes in working hotels and a romance (or two) between a hotel employee, his subordinate and a local socialite.

While none of this makes for difficult reading, I can tell you, I was highly entertained. Given the time period, there were several times I reflected on the tv series “Mad Men” while reading this book and considered that a series set against the time period with the stories being told in this book, would be well received by cable with the current trend towards telling some of the stories of the late twentieth century.

This is a book meant to be enjoyed and although dated, it was not detrimental to my enjoyment. If anything, I think time enhanced it. I also have to tip my hat to Mr. Hailey. The writing was refreshing. He uses a more formal, authorial style but the experience of reading his words was wonderful. There were some older terms that one rarely comes across in writing anymore but I really reveled in an opportunity to enjoy something that didn't use much (if any) slang. I don't think there was a curse word among the text and although I have no aversion to that, the f word is used so much now in writing and speech that it was noticeable by its omission! That makes a statement about us as a society – not sure if it is good or bad but it is a statement.

If you are a younger reader and want a peek at the hotel industry in the 1960's, this is a fun way to peek at it. If you are an older reader but haven't picked up a Hailey book in a while, please re-visit this author. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
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LibraryThing member agjuba
What an interesting mix this book is! The story is compellingly, enjoyably soap opera-ish, but the details about the running of a hotel were fascinating, and the cultural portrait of a certain slice of life in the 1960s was fascinating. Read while traveling through New Orleans -- the location of
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the hotel portrayed in the novel.
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LibraryThing member 101ReasonsWhy
Hotel was my choice for a book written the year I was born. Like me it is 50 years old and dated. But, that being said it was an enjoyable read and interesting. Several different plot lines that all come together in a story that provides laughter, sighs, drama and perhaps a couple of tears. It
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probably accurately reflects many things in New Orleans in the early 60's - racial tension, sexism, economic priveledge and more. Most of the ending was predictable half way through but not all of it and the writing was good enough and the characters interesting enough to keep me reading later than I should.
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LibraryThing member burritapal
Did you ever wonder why hotels and motels switched to those irritating plastic cards to be used for keys, when half the time they don't work?
I liked the character Keycase, because while he was a thief, Hailey had him steal twice from the rich, and once from a drunken pendejo harassing a dancer
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from a stripbar.
Hardcover 1965
"Both incidents were disappointing, but an old experience. Keycase continued to observe. he was a patient man. soon, he knew, what he was waiting for would happen.
10 minutes later his vigil was rewarded.
a florid-faced, balding man, carrying a top coat, bulging flight bag and camera, stopped to choose a magazine on his way to the departure ramp. at the newstand cash desk he discovered a hotel key and gave an exclamation of annoyance. his wife, a thin mild woman, made a quiet suggestion to which he snapped 'there isn't any time." Keycase, overhearing, followed them closely. good! As they passed a trash can, the man threw the key in.
for Keycase the rest was routine. Strolling past the trash can, he tossed in his own folded newspaper, then, as if abruptly changing his mind, turned back and recovered it. at the same time he looked down, observed the discarded key and Palmed it unobtrusively. A few minutes later in the privacy of the men's toilet he read that it was for room 641 of the St Gregory hotel."

"in a Bourbon Street stripjoint the big hipped blonde leaned closer to her male companion, one hand resting on his thigh, the fingers of the other fondling the base of his neck. 'sure,' she said. 'sure I want to go to bed with you, honey.'
Stan somebody, he had said he was, from a hicktown in Iowa she had never heard of. and if he breathes at me anymore, she thought, I'll puke. That's not bad breath in his mouth; it's a direct line from a sewer.
'wadda we waitin' for, then?' The man asked thickly. he took her hand, moving it higher on the inside of his thigh. 'I got something special for you there, baby.'
she thought contemptuously: they were all the same, the loudmouth chawbacons who came here – convinced that what they had between their legs was something exceptional which women panted for, and as irrationally proud as if they had grown it themselves like a prize cucumber. Probably, if put to a real white-hot test, this one would wind up incapable and whimpering, like others. But she had no intention of finding out. God! – that stinking breath....
'listen,' the man from Iowa said impatiently, 'whyn't we blow?'
'I already told you, sugar. I work here. I can't leave yet. I got my ACT to do.'
'piss on your act!'
'Now, honey, that's not nice.' As if with sudden inspiration, the hippie blonde said, 'what hotel you staying at?'
'St gregory.'
'that's not far from here.'
'Can have your pants off in 5 minutes.'
She chided: 'won't I get a drink first?'
'you bet you will! Let's go!'
'Wait, Stanley darling! I've an idea.'
The lines were going exactly right, she thought, like a smoothly running playlist. and why not? It was the thousandth performance, give or take a few hundred either way. for the past hour and a half Stan whoever-he-was from somewhere had docilely followed the tired old routine: the first drink – a try-on at four times the price he would have paid in an honest bar. then the waiter had brought her over to join him. they had been served a succession of drinks, though, like the other girls who worked on bar commission, she had had cold tea instead of cheap whiskey which the customers got. and later she had tipped off the waiter to hustle the full treatment – a split bottle of domestic champagne for which the bill, though Stanley Sucker didn't know it yet, would be $40 – and just let him try to get out without paying!
so all that remained was to ditch him, though maybe in doing so – if the lines kept going right – she could earn another small commission. after all, she was entitled to some sort of bonus for enduring that stinking breath.
He was asking, 'wha' idea, baby?'
'Leave me your hotel key. You can get another at the desk; they always have spares. Soon as I'm through here I'll come and join you.' She squeezed where he had placed her hand. 'you just make sure you're ready for me.' .....
some 2 hours later, at the end of a day as dreary as most – though at least, she consoled herself, a little more productive – the big-hipped blonde sold the key for $10.
The buyer was Keycase milne."

This book is sexist, like most books published at the time. For example, The author talks about a 'big-hipped blonde,' does he ever talk about men with big butts? With big man-boobs? Granted the house security officer is talked about as 'waddling along,' but it's nothing like the descriptions of the women in the book.

The author has the protagonist stand up for civil rights. At a convention for dentists, one of the dentist speakers is a black man. As he is registering, the desk clerk pushes a registration form towards him, and then when he looks up and sees that the guest is black, he snatches back the registration form.
at the end of the book, when the protagonist has been promoted, he says that one of the conditions of him accepting the post is that black people will be allowed as guests in the hotel.

The multi-millionaire who has offered to buy the St Gregory is a typical rich pendejo. Whenever I read the parts of the book about him, I pictured Trumpedo. He's been with a young woman, his escort/girlfriend, for a year, and he's getting ready to dump her for an up-and-coming Hollywood star.
" 'I'm afraid - tomorrow morning. You'll fly directly to Los angeles. Hank lemnitzer will meet you.'
dodo moved her head slowly in assent. the slim fingers of one hand went absently to her face, brushing back a strand of ash-blonde hair. it was a simple movement yet, like so many of dodo's, profoundly sensuous. Unreasonably, O'Keefe experienced a jealous twinge at the thought of Hank lemnitzer with dodo. Lemnitzer, who had managed the groundwork for most of his employer's liaisons in the past, would never dare to trifle with the chosen favorite in advance. But afterward... Afterward was something else again. He thrust the thought away.
'I want you to know, my dear, that losing you is a great blow to me. but we have to think of your future.'
'Curtie, it's all right.' Dodo's eyes were still upon him. Despite their innocence, he had an absurd notion they had penetrated to the truth. 'it's all right. You don't have to worry.'
'I'd hoped - about the movie role -you might be more pleased.'
'I am, curtie! Gee, I really am! I think it's swell the way you always do the sweetest things.'
the reaction bolstered his own confidence. 'it's really a tremendous opportunity. I'm sure you'll do well, and of course I shall follow your career closely.' He resolved to concentrate his thoughts on Jenny laMarsh.
'I guess...' There was the slightest catch in dodo's voice. 'I guess you'll go tonight. Before me.'
making an instantaneous decision, he answered, 'no, I'll cancel my flight and leave tomorrow morning. tonight will be a special evening for us both.'
as dodo looked up gratefully, the telephone rang. with a sense of relief for something else to do, he answered it."

This book has a happy ending; one most readers will like. It is, after all fiction. Though dated, this book still allows the reader to see the many employees needed for the multiple functions going on in a big hotel. For example, there's no technology in the hotel. It also shows you ways that a person who never worked in a hotel would think of, in which side hustles can be made. I'm sure it's a lot harder now, what with technology, for employees to siphon off profits.
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Doubleday (1965), 346 pages

Original publication date





0385032226 / 9780385032223


Original language

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