Dom Joly: Hotels of the world: an apology

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I love hotels for this sort of thing. Great ones take this sort of behaviour in their stride and usher the sailor/horse/dwarf up to the right room. It did, however, cross my mind that were I to require a sailor brought to my house, I would find it quite difficult. I can imagine that in Manhattan they are 10 a penny but round here... We are not exactly a coastal community.

Personally I would head for Plymouth if seamen were my particular pleasure. I have this vision of the rent-boy shop in Swindon getting the telephone call : "Barnsley House, yes we know it, I can send someone over right now. A sailor suit? I don't think we've got anything like that. Let me ring the theatre and see if they have anything in their costume department. I know they've just done The Pirates of Penzance. Would a pirate fit the bill? How about a very modern major-general?"

Hotels are great to tease, especially if they are American-minded and have that 'anything goes' service mentality. A long time ago when I was making a programme called War of the Flea for the Paramount Comedy Channel, I booked a room at the ultra-hip London hotel the Hempel.

My accomplice and I turned up dressed as schoolboys talking in extremely high voices. We checked in and were shown to our room without the merest hint of surprise. We thought they must have taken us for eccentric millionaires so we decided to up the ante.

The hotel is famous for its' minimalist decor. We turned our pristine room into a children's playroom complete with posters, train tracks, Star Wars duvet, you name it. We then ordered a ham sandwich to get someone to come into our room. The man duly arrived with the world's most expensive sandwich and didn't even bat an eyelid. We ate the sandwich which was a work of architectural beauty and then left the hotel, defeated.

I was very impressed. But I was sadly to blot my copy-book at this establishment when I stayed there for my 30th birthday. I had a gorgeous minimalist suite which I returned to after a particularly heavy drinking session.

Ten minutes after I'd got into bed I knew that I was in trouble. I stumbled out of it and down the Japanese Rococo stairs, desperately trying to find the oh-so-tastefully concealed light switches. I didn't manage that, but somehow reached the bathroom only to find that the actual loo was cleverly hidden beneath an enormous single piece of clean wood that appeared to have no way of being opened. I had done my best to be tidy and proceeded to redecorate an entire wall of the suite with that evening's drinks and supper. I haven't been back since.

Hip hotels in Miami are taught never to say 'no'. I used to ring up the Delano in South Beach and ask them whether any members of the large UK hip-hop crew Blazing Squad were guests. I would give the receptionist some of the fake names that the band might be staying under: "Spitfire, Terry's Chocolate Orange, Merlin the Wizard, Noddy and Big Ears, Airwolf, Mr Kipling (the band's caterer, he makes exceedingly good cakes I would tell her helpfully), My Little Pony, Nelly The Elephant... The list was endless but she would never give up. I stopped when my phone bill grew very large, but not before I'd rung the Waldorf Astoria in New York and asked them whether anyone had found the pet that I'd managed to leave in one of the rooms. It was a small aggressive hamster in a tube.

They sent me a lovely letter a week later saying that a thorough search had been made of the entire hotel but there had been no sighting of my hamster and its tube. They did want to know whether the tube was some form of container for my pet. I didn't elaborate as I thought they'd done quite enough.

My gravestone will, according to Stacey, bear the phrase "ruined it for everyone". I have to admit I'm quite happy with that.

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