What does Fifty Shades of Grey (the bestselling erotic novel set in Seattle) have to do with the Holy Bible (the even-more-bestselling religious text set in the Middle East)? In one British hotel, the kinkier of the two—ahem, that would be Fifty Shades—has replaced the Good Book in bedside tables.
The Damson Dene Hotel, a Lake District inn in England's Bowness-on-Windermere, has, according to The Washington Post, placed a copy of E. L. James' novel in each of their 40 rooms. In a blog post, owner Jonathan Denby said "I’m told it’s a ripping good yarn and everyone who’s in the target audience loves it. This made me wonder about the sense of providing a book, the Gideon Bible which no one reads...instead of a book which everyone wants to read, such as Fifty Shades of Grey.” He also considered Atlas Shrugged in place of the Bible, he says.
The response, says Denby, has been "overwhelmingly favorable" in England—and the one guest complaint was when the previous occupant had absconded with that room's copy. From the U.S., he's heard a "very un-Christian combination of lies, threats and intimidation" but he doesn't think it "is in any way typical of the average American." Since Denby last year welcomed compared his own hotel to the nutty Fawlty Towers, perhaps he's not typical Brit, either.
Closer to home, Northwest hotels have embraced the locally-set Fifty Shades of Grey with special packages. At The Edgewater, a Shades of Romance package includes a romantic sail on Puget Sound, a bottle of the rose champagne mentioned in the book, and a demo drive in an Audi (the brand the book's hero drives). Across downtown at the Hotel Max, the 50 Shades of Seattle package has a helicopter tour of the city as well as a chauffeured town car. Guests have to BYO BDSM.
In Portland's Heathman Hotel, where part of the book is set, a cocktail inspired by the book ("botanicals, spirits, and a gorgeous rhubarb puree") is served at the Marble Bar, and a roses-and-limos package with a necktie you can keep. Hotel Diva in San Francisco uses rose petals and a black satin-wrapped "goody box" in their Fifty Shades special. While reviews of the book itself have been, er, mixed at best, the phenomenon it stirred is apparently thriving.