The best hotel lobbies in the world are free to walk into. Everybody is a guest. Then you can sit just like Hemingway did on his elephant and watch for whatever comes your way.
A floor-crusher wearing an earbug. He moves the heavily inlaid table out of reach of the soiled shoe, smiling all the while like an oriental wrestler alone with you in a punishment room.
Then he returns to his stygian pillar on the right hand side of the entrance, base camp. Another two brothers roam about on the marble floor, in and out of the pillar lanes. None of them wear good shoes. The one European in the lobby watches a woman walking in and walking over and sitting down. Black high-heels / sheer stockings / black fitted skirt / silk blouse / silver and small pearls / Red lipstick / oval eyes / arched brows / black hair. Perfectly sat. Legs crossed.
Her glance over is as quick as a shot and whoever she’s waiting for will be older and richer.
Businessmen fold themselves about meeting and un-meeting, using hand gestures and upper body postures that they would never use anywhere else. Handshakes that are clasps or grasps, or just touch and slip away. Sometimes an American tries his strength.
Two boys in white are on the swing doors, they only open one if they judge you able to cope with the insult. A man wearing a surf T and cargo shorts, sandals and a beach-hat veers away and takes a more distant door out, this he has to open for himself.
Australian, unworthy of a service construed as servitude.
The English stand and wait for both doors to blossom open for their passage, in or out. They are the only people in this city who sneeze into the air. Some of the men wear no socks and some of their children are ungovernable and voracious.
A driver has appeared, unnoticed, in his white suit creased from two days wear. He is built solid and stands quiet, looking intently at the man who looks just as intently at him. They stare at each other. He has been sent for.
A Japanese has quit the front desk checkout and he strides his short-stepping way to the door, a door-boy each side, and so slick he palms them each a note without stopping. They slip their fold away.
The Bell captain at his desk, another note, and another and bigger one for the forecourt boss as he opens the taxi door.
.. The driver leaves without his call, and he puts a little black tar on the forecourt on the way out.