When last we left our intrepid traveler, Stephanie was watching the sun come up over Roma’s White Night celebration, the festival that caused her a week of forearm pain after having to drag her suitcases over a mile through a horde of hotties.
Yes, hotties. Stephanie observed that no matter where she looked, Roman hotties abounded: trash collectors, taxi drivers…all the men were hot. What was not was her hotel room, a piddling closet of a thing with no light and less charm at the Grand Hotel Plaza, which had promised lenghty lists of regular rock stars on InItaly.com.
Down Stephanie went to the front desk. "Good morning! I’d like to change rooms, I mean change from a closet to a room," she purred confidently. Stephanie was known to make room changes and requests the world over, having well learned that if one wants better, all one has to do is ask (and of course it helps if the person on duty is male and one’s eyelashes flutter a great deal).
The young woman flashed a wild-eyed look at Stephanie, phone clutched in her hand, and trembled, "We have no more rooms. We are full."
Stephanie glanced at the clock behind the woman and at the crowds around her. This was check out time. Of course there were rooms. "Aren’t these people all checking out?" Stephanie pointed out.
The woman spoke rapid Italian into the phone, glanced fiercely at Stephanie several times, and fired off more phrases in the lilting language. She put the phone down. "We have no more sheets. The housekeeping department is screaming at me. Your request just made it worse. Do you want me to move you into a room without sheets? Is that what you want?"
Stephanie considered this for a moment, standing there in the gilded lounge area with its vast ceilings of chandeliers and frescoes, a fiersome marble lion crouched at the bottom of a wide staircase. The woman at the desk pleaded with her eyes.
Just then, in walked Rotillio, Stephanie’s handsome private guide for the day. Thoughts of sheets quite suddenly vanished, well the clean kind at least, and off Stephanie went into the bright Italian morning. Rotillio presented Rome to Stephanie in chronology, from its earliest origins through all its imperial changes. She learned more than she can chronicle here, but suffice it to say that the tour ended not only with vast knowledge but a promise from her guide to meet her the next night for drinks.
Returning to the hotel, Stephanie plowed through the formidable lobby and headed straight for the front desk. Little Miss No Sheets was still on duty. "Cleaned your sheets, yet?" Stephanie pried. The woman was in no mood: "Do you want housekeeping to kill me? We are in a crisis. No sheets for you." Sheet, Stephanie thought, trudging back to her Barbie Dreamhouse room. It was so horrific in there that she soon vacated once again and headed to a nearby cafe for pasta and journal writing.
Her appetites for local delicacies as well as bursting creativity sated, Stephanie went reluctantly back to her hotel for a jetlag-easing nap. It was then that she noticed a new woman at the front desk. She was older, wiser and brimmed with efficiency. Stephanie approached her delicately, fearing the worst but hoping…
"Excuse me," Stephanie opened carefully. "But do you have any sheets?"
The woman stared at your Editor-in-Chief. "Are you a guest of this hotel, madame?"
Too single-minded to notice the lack of mademoiselle-ing going on, Stephanie continued. "I was told that you ran out of sheets and that I cannot change my room. I have a horrible, tiny room and I am expecting two friends to join me. Where will they sleep?"
With the wisdom of the ages, the woman looked at Stephanie and replied, "This is the first I’ve heard of our sheets issue. How would you like a lovely triple? Shall we move you now?"
Stephanie could hardly believe her ears. A triple! A room to hold three beds? It was a miracle. The next thing Stephanie knew, she found herself in a palatial suite. Lifesize portraits of graceful women decorated the long walls, and two columns graced the main room. The dressing area was another room entirely, and the bathroom was surely designed by Roman gods.
It was all Stephanie could do to contain herself that night when two of her soon to be 5 traveling companions arrived, threw their stuff on each of their ample beds, and remarked, "Nice room."