The Bruce Hotel, Stratford, Ont.

by Lynn on August 2, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

The good people of The Bruce Hotel in Stratford, Ont. are providing their back lawn for the Here For Now Open-Air Festival. The small audience sits on plastic chairs that are appropriately placed for health and safety. (The Bruce as it is known, is owned by the Birmingham family—huge patrons of the Stratford Festival. The Birmingham Conservatory that offers training to actors beginning their careers, is named for the family.)

When ‘nature calls’ we are allowed to use the ‘indoor plumbing’. The hotel is very grand from my point of view. Prices start at $500 a night. I can’t even imagine what you get for that—Egyptian sheets at a thread count of 1000 plus a whole box of Réo Thompson Mint Smoothies on the pillow?  

The place is ‘hidden’ behind a tall hedge or a taller bank of trees on one side or a wall as it fronts on Ontario St.  The staff wear what look like tailored suits/uniforms with matching masks, it seems to me. You are greeted by the masked/uniformed young man outside who presses one of those automatic round thingies that slowly opens the double doors revealing the quiet elegance of The Bruce.

Those slowly opening double doors were quite dramatic. I recall the film Cleopatra in which the huge gates of Rome opened slowly to allow in the impressive entourage of a hundred beefy men hauling a high throne on which was Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. That girl could make an entrance.

I didn’t so much make an entrance as much as I enjoyed the drama of the slow doors. Everybody at the reception desk said hello. I said I was just going to the bathroom. I could tell they were all smiling behind their masks.

A “W” denoted the Women’s Washroom. The wood is a rich, dark brown. The lighting is bright but not glaring. There are several cubicles each with its own wood door. The cubicles are spacious and not small compact affairs. I notice the top sheet of the toilet paper is folded in a V and it’s resting gently on the roll.  Wow.

You know how in hotel rooms of spiffy hotels the top sheet of the toilet paper in the bathrooms is folded into a neat V as it rests on the roll. I guess it’s the way the hotel brains think guests would know that the place had been cleaned—that origami on the toilet paper. Like the fact that the bed is made perfectly, everything is dusted, cleaned, emptied, and smells nice would not give us the clue. We need the people cleaning the rooms to add that V touch. (An aside that took this into outer space. At one hotel the place was not content with just folding the top sheet of the “loo paper” into a V, they also added a round sticker that stuck that V to the roll. So I’m sitting there, NEEDING the paper at the ready and I had to turn and contort myself because it wasn’t a matter of just putting my hand out to grab hold. Nooooooooooooo. I had to turn then with both hands had to tear off the sticker and several sheets of paper in the process and got a cramp in the process. A sticker on the bloody toilet paper. Stupid! But I digress.)

So the toilet paper in the public restroom of The Bruce Hotel got the origami treatment too. When I ‘finished’ and used what toilet paper I needed, I then folded the top sheet into a sort of neat V (but not as neat as this staff) and rolled it up so that it was just resting on the roll.

I washed my hands thoroughly with the lovely scented liquid soap. Then got one of the sturdy paper towels, folded in a rectangle with “The Bruce” beautifully printed on it. Those paper towels are rather large when unfolded and so absorbent. For whatever reason—messy people, poor design of the faucets—the counter had splashes of water on it. So, yes, I used the paper towel to wipe down the counter as well. Then tossed it; took a tissue from the brown box for future use and left. Am I my mother’s daughter, or what?

When I was leaving the hotel I seemed to have gotten into a race with the person behind the desk to see who would get to the thingy one pushes first to open the double doors. I’m not sure if it was for cleanliness purposes but I gently punched the thingy with the side of my fist and the doors opened.

The Bruce has its own veggie gardens in huge wood planters at the back. The tomato plants are a tangle of every single kind you can imagine all crowded in. And not tied up. I did not bring my own ties for that. Nor did I think it right to snip off the ‘suckers’. I saw three huge cucumbers in that part of the planter There were zucchini flowers but I didn’t delve into the tangle to see if there were any zucchinis.

On one of my trips to see the plays on the lawn someone from the kitchen went out to get some edible flowers. I was curious—what did he get—he got nasturtiums, a cucumber flower and some others. All edible and all ready for decorating the food. Peppers were coming in as well. Every single person I dealt with there was polite, curious, accommodating and kind. Loved that. I will be practicing my V making when I get home.    

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