Two Hotel Suggestions for Travelers Wanting to Press Their Luck
The two manual typewriters set up in the lobby of the Press Hotel in Portland, Maine, are just for show, but they produced a visceral reaction in me because I started my career pounding out copy on just such an unforgiving machine that always seemed to require changing a ribbon mid-story, adding carbon paper for duplicates or worst of all—thumbing through a dictionary because there was no spell check.
The hotel housed in the former home of the Portland Daily Press is part of Marriott’s Autograph Series. The nostalgic theme of daily newspapers in their heyday is played out in a variety of collages. One features typesetters’ letters of different sizes and fonts behind the registration desk. A variety of manual typewriters arranged in a starburst design decorate a two-story wall in the lobby, and a 3-D mural with typewriter cases looking like mini suitcases transitions guests from registration to the elevator delivering them to their rooms.
The lobby watering hole, the Inkwell Bar, is situated fittingly where the editors once held court. The fine-dining restaurant is the Union, named not after the nearby street, but as a nod to the union responsible for running the presses back when the Gannet building cranked out a daily newspaper.
Even the fitness center gets in on the action. A commercial scale once used for weighing rolls of newsprint allows travelers to check their pre- and post-workout weights (I believe it weighed a bit heavy, but maybe that’s just me).
Upstairs, spilled letters were woven into the hallway carpets, while copy from past stories headlined the wallpaper. It was a smart move to give the stylish rooms a break from the theme. The only affectation was an embroidered pun on the back of the desk chair: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," the infamous sentence used for practice in high school typing classes because it included every letter in the alphabet.
Since the real reason I was in Maine was to visit my daughter, my next night was spent in an old hotel in Bangor, the Charles Inn. When I made the reservation over the phone, I asked for a king room (as opposed to one with two queen beds). Little did I know “king” in Bangor has a whole different meaning, because the city is home to thriller author Stephen King. The Kings Suite did indeed have a king bed, but it also was a tribute to the writer, including a history of his work and an old mangle (ironing machine) with a headless mannequin pressed inside in honor of King’s book, "The Mangler."
My night‘s sleep was uneventful—no visits from Cujo or drive-bys by Christine. I know the hotel is safe, because I left the key in the door overnight (we’ve been trained to use keycards). But unlike keycards, which are a dime a dozen, when you forget to return a real room key, you have to mail it back—which I did at the airport.