The blue-striped marquees were lowered, guarding every hotel window from sun and prying eyes, like standing soldiers. Jonathan squeezed past some cabs that blocked the entrance and climbed the steps to the revolving door. With a mixture of distaste and envy he regarded the extravagant luxury inside. Men, all suited up and smug-smiled, hurried past him. More subservient men, some in livery even, schlepped to and fro with suitcases and bags. They all ignored him, drilled as they were to single out guests with generous tips in their pockets from the occasional shabby visitor. Jonathan fought the urge to turn and run, forced himself to step towards the front desk.

More men in suits swarmed the floor, cluttering at the polished marble counter. Three receptionists checked guests in and out at such a swift pace, that Jonathan found himself alone at the desk within minutes. The woman threw him a questioning look. Jonathan felt the heat of unease crawl up his neck and cheeks. He put the bag on the counter and handed her the business card.

“Ah, Mr. Bard,” she said. “We were informed of your arrival.” She sent him a radiant smile and started typing on a hidden keyboard. Not two seconds later she pulled a key card from somewhere and handed it to him.

“No, no, no,” Jonathan stuttered. “I’m not—you are wrong. I’m not…”

“Welcome at the Krasnapolsky,” she rattled on, without paying any attention to his attempts to rectify her mistake. “We have a suite ready for you. Your luggage arrived early this morning and has been brought up. If you need anything, please call us at the front desk. Enjoy your stay at the Krasnapolsky, Mr. Bard.”

“I’m not Dallas Bard,” he tried, but she already directed her attention to the next guest in line. The man elbowed him out of the way. Jonathan snatched the bag from the counter and stepped back, the key card clutched in his hand.


It took him a while to shake the confusion. For a moment he considered approaching one of the other receptionists, but noticing the very same radiant smile chiseled on their faces, he set out to the foyer, in search of anything that would resemble a garden, a winter garden no less.

He wasn’t five steps away from the front desk when he spotted a sign with a large black arrow printed on it and the logo that had been on the conference papers. The sign made him breathe easier and he followed it past a small wooden desk at which another hotel employee sat studying her nails. ‘Guest services’ said the notice on her desk. She didn’t look like she was going to serve anyone today, and he decided not to disturb her. He rounded the next corner and found himself facing invitingly opened doors that gave way to a two story high hall with a frosted glass roof. Filtered sunlight left the room in a golden glow, very much unlike the burning heat outside. ‘Wintertuin’ it said in golden letters above the middle one of the arched doors.

Inside, wide steps lead down to a black-and-white checkered floor with high tables, crammed with empty and half empty glasses, bowls of snacks and pastries, and an astonishing number of opened laptops.