The oddest thing about the Hydro Motor Inn was that, at first glance, it was entirely deserted. Steps of old marble rose up to two huge timber swing doors. Beyond, another set of doors opened onto a lobby about the size of Telstra Dome but a lot older and a lot darker.
To the left of the lobby, near the doors, was a glassed office with no-one in attendance. A sign said 'Ring bell if not attended'. I rang the bell and had a look around. In the semi-darkness, ancient leather chesterfields and easy chairs sat on acres of axminster. To each side of the room, massive arched doorways led off to east and west wings of the building and above, an enormous dimmed chandelier hung in the space created by an open mezzanine edged with timber balustrades. On the far side of the room, I could make out a fire place big enough to stand up in and a hearth to match. Someone had chopped up several trees into handy sized logs and stacked them neatly to one side. It was going to be a cold night.
Just as I was wondering how many carbon credits you would need to buy in order to switch on the chandelier for five minutes, it lit up; and at the same time, a pleasant-looking woman in her mid-thirties appeared in the lobby.
'Sorry,' she said. 'I was down the other end.'
Posted by kitchen hand at 6:01 PM