Buildings and bodies part 2: the Lloyd hotel re-visited

Last May, I wrote a piece about the fascinatingly quirky Lloyd hotel in Amsterdam, where I stayed while I was teaching. I stayed there again this May while I was teaching a workshop on shiatsu and infertility at the Zen Shiatsu school run by Joyce Vlaarkamp .

Apparently some of their staff had read my previous post: https://wellmother.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/buildings-and-bodies/ and so this time they upgraded my room!

The Lloyd is a hotel where they boost that you can choose any category of room from one to five star. They also see it as not simply a hotel but a cultural embassy: they host many cultural events and the hotel itself is full of artistic artefacts.  This time, I was moved from the industrial kitchen, which I learned was not often used simply as a room, but  more as a space for an artist in residence: hence the huge empty spaces. My new room was the Chelsea apartment which had a completely different flavour: expressing another aspect of our bodies. “There’s a sexual undertone in the hotel”. This seemed rather appropriate given the theme of my workshop.

chelsea cushion

Some of you may have heard of the Chelsea Hotel in New York, and this was the inspiration for the apartment. In Manhattan, it was home to long term residents until it was closed in 2011. These included famous writers, musicians, artists and actors such as  Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith.  Arthur C Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while he was there. It also has another side: Dylan Thomas died of pneumonia  there in 1953 and Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious’s girlfriend was found stabbed to death there.

The Lloyd Chelsea also drew inspiration from the work of artist Linda Troeller who lived in the New York Chelsea for 18 years. She has a whole portfolio of photos taken in the Chelsea hotel and many of these filled the walls.  She drew inspiration from the colour, blur and sexual presence of the place and the people who lived there. Linda describes her art as challenging the aggressive economic expansion which has displaced us from our sense of connection to place and to each other, wanting her work to enable a “better comprehension of the other with whom we exchange what we produce and create”.

Dutch design studios StudioKoster and Van Lienen put all this together in a remarkable way. Their quirky joint website page  gives a fair idea of their style and humour.  I entered into a kitchen with an old Dutch sink, a table on which had been placed some fruit and a card welcoming me, walls packed with  pictures and colourful cushions placed on the wooden benches. One had embroidered on it some of Leonard Cohen’s words from:

“I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel”

“you were talking so brave and so sweet,

giving me head on the unmade bed,

while the limousines wait in the street. ”

Suzanne with teaching assistant Ilona in the kitchen at the Chelsea apartment in the Lloyd hotel, Amsterdam

Suzanne with teaching assistant Ilona in the kitchen at the Chelsea apartment in the Lloyd hotel, Amsterdam

Joyce took a picture of me with Ilona Van Ruijven who was assisting me on the training. You might just be able to make out the Leonard Cohen cushion next to me, and you can see one of Linda’s pictures in the background.

The bedroom, naturally,  was the centre piece, with a huge bed: 4 large pillows across. I began to regret  being on my own, but at least I had had plenty of space to unwind in after my day’s teaching.  The large windows opposite led one’s gaze out out over the canals, where the ships docked in the early era of the Lloyd being the hotel of the Royal Dutch Lloyd shipping line . Written on the ceiling above the bed was:

“The famous staircase is the funnel at the centre of the hotel. It’s the grounding of the hotel. The central spike or support. It’s like the penis and vagina. It’s the birth canal of the hotel.  ”

If you want to see a picture of it click on Linda’s website: under the portfolio of the Chelsea hotel.

Again, this felt somewhat apt, given the nature of my workshop.

One of Linda’s huge dramatic pictures of guests in the hotel hung on one wall. There was another room, a sitting area, also decorated with interesting quote filled cushions and lamps and pictures.

I would have been happy to have stayed in the rooms for longer, but duly cycled out on my bike hired from the Lloyd hotel early each morning to teach my class. The room certainly gave me inspiration for pondering the nature of female sexuality, the energy of the different phases of the menstrual cycle and how to support fertility and implantation. A lot of our explorations were about how women have become disconnected from the different energies of their cycle and ways in which shiatsu can support them, and their partners, to become more connected.

I wonder where they will put me next year when I return.

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