The Hotel Room

  • D. J. Van Lennep
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 103)


Someone once said: a room is a sacred garment. This expression points to the fact that we dwell in a room not because it is our room, but because it becomes our room when we live in it. What is this mysterious inhabiting through which a room becomes ours? For the most part we believe that it is very important for the inhabiting whether or not, for example, we have placed furniture of our choice in it and that through this choice a room becomes a personal expression of ourself. However the room as an expression of our personality is to a great extent an unfulfillable dream: there are too many factors which do not depend upon our free choice. There even are factors which not at all depend upon our choice, such as size, height, and the distribution of light. As in almost any human situation we must accept what is available. One may say, so far so good; but within the already determined limits there is still room for a choice and for arranging the furniture according to one’s own view and taste. But this freedom is limited, also. Bound by limited imagination and by what one received from the parental home and particularly by what is offered by manufacturers and antiquarians as far as new or old furniture is concerned, we set up housekeeping. And even then our freedom remains within a certain range in that without realizing it explicitly we shall make the room correspond to the demands made on our home by a certain rank, class, and culture.


Parental Home Limited Imagination Hotel Room Personal Expression Holiday Trip 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The burglar experiences this too. I am borrowing the following quotation from J.P. Sartre (Saint Genet (Paris: Gallimard, 1952), p. 244; English trans. Bernard Frechtman (New York: George Braziller, 1963), p. 260): “If all goes well, one enters a man, for the gaping, defenseless apartment, naked and paralyzed, is a man. It reflects a person, his tastes, his ways, his vices: ‘I do not think specifically of the proprietor of the place, but all my gestures evoke him… I recreate the absent proprietor. He lives, not facing me, but about me. He is a fluid element which I breathe, which enters me, which inflates my lungs.”Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gaston Bachelard, La terre et les rêveries du repos (Paris: Corti, 1948), Chapter 4.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R.R. Bezzola, Le sense de l’aventure et de l’amour (Paris: Le Jeune Parque, 1947).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Julien Green, Journal, 4 vols. (Paris: Plon, 1938ff.), vol. III, p. 23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Van Lennep

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations