Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hotel 81

Now I know what the fuss was all about. Billed as "Singapore's largest tourist class budget hotel chain", Hotel 81 frequently came to the rescue of more than one sexually frustrated Singaporean adolescent. That's how I first came to know about it anyway.

I was doing some research for some school magazine feature I was writing about Hotel F&B Managers (suffice to say, it was a riveting piece of literature) and quite innocently -and enthusastically- called almost every hotel listing in the phonebook looking for people to interview. (Note: this was when I was like, 15 and still had a work ethic).

Of course, Hotel 81 didn't have an F&B Manager to interview. The receptionist's comments, "People don't really come to our hotel for the food leh" and "Is that like Housekeeping?" led me to think something was amiss. I was enlightened a few days later by a bunch of my more worldly friends who were undoubtedly more acquainted with the facilities than I was.

A hotel with its roots in Geylang, Hotel 81 is the site of unsanctioned hook-ups and hourly sex. A spectrum of ill-at-ease characters sweat, grunt and ejaculate within the confines of its paper-thin walls on a daily basis. One is just as likely to meet an unshaven Ah Pek with his two-bit mainland Chinese mistress, a bronzed NS man with his most recent prize, fumbling teenage couples terrified that their staunchly-conservative parents might find out, as well as the occasional bonafide budget tourist.

Or one just might find...a curious middle-class yuppie in business attire (i.e. me). With Quinn i.e. scruffy cash-strapped ex-coke dealer in tow. On a Wednesday lunchtime. You know, a good time as any to check out the F&B outlets.

To be fair, Hotel 81 was surprisingly clean (rooms were spotless, sheets regularly changed). And pleasant with everything you needed for a quick fuck, including a heated shower, TV with remote control, packaged peanuts for sustenance, toothbrush, condoms. It was also almost unapologetically tacky (faux-Renaissance art, chintzy chairs and gothic pillars). And it was also really cheap. $30+ for 2 hours - the number of shags you can squeeze into that period is anyone's guess. Hotel 81 is definitely what most Singaporeans deem value-for-money. Or "cheap cheap good good", as they say. No need to bring your own Dettol.

I've definitely laid my skanky self in much dirtier, shadier and uglier locations. (strangely, shopping centre handicapped toilets come to mind). But the idea of sneaking out to a rent-by-the-hour hotel at lunchtime, sanitised though it was, still felt pretty seedy. And quite ludicrous. Quinn and I wasted about an hour of our allotted time making silly jokes about the "minibar" and listening intently at the walls. We were laughing so hard he couldn't even get a proper erection and we decided to watch an animal documentary just to get ourselves into the mood, which sent me into a further burst of giggles.

When we finally got the machinery in order, we did it twice and then I had to scurry back to my desk job all neat and tidy, none the worse for wear.

(Real time update: Quinn's been bugging me for a repeat of our little Hotel 81 adventure next week but I'm sorry to say this one's definitely a single serve. It's a little too proletariat for my tastes. I guess that means there'll be continuing damage to Quinn's bed - yes, the one already held together by masking tape. But I've already blogged about that. Drats.)