When I first moved to the city, I couldn’t wait to be away from the countryside and grisly beaches of my childhood. I relished the fact that, at no point, was the city silent. But, after a while, I missed my old life and did what all city folk in need of a bit of bracing air do; I decided to take a mini-break. As research, I mooched around the local bookstore and picked up a copy of Mr & Mrs Smith, a glossy book of hotel reviews. It was love at first flick.
As the rain poured down in London town, I’d dream of the day when I and my other half could blow our life savings on a night at one of these hotels. Obviously, having read far too much Bridget Jones, I decided we’d get there in a convertible and have suitably seductive and wild sex in the four-poster bed. I wasn’t sure which of the amazing hotels I wanted to go to but, one thing I knew for sure, I wouldn’t be going alone.
Society does like to couple us up; party invitations always invite you to ‘bring a +1’, M&S sells meals for two, and, if you want to go away by yourself, be prepared to pay a single supplement. After all, think the holiday companies, who on earth would want to visit paradise alone?
So, although I bought those brochures, I never booked. It wasn’t so much that I feared travelling alone – I’d spent six months in Australia by myself; on a whim I’d taken myself off to Cuba for two weeks, forgetting that I spoke no Spanish – but there were some things I was holding out to do with someone else; I wanted to drive the Pacific Highway, as we screamed the lyrics to bad 1980s rock music. I wanted to book into a five-star hotel and not leave the room for the entire time. I even avoided Venice, because that’s where you go when you’re in love.
Then, one day, while perusing a former flame’s Instagram account, I saw him frolicking in the meadows of an expensive country house hotel, and was hit by a tidal wave of jealousy. Not for him, but for the hotel; that glorious, over-blown hotel. I moped about it for a few days, then did the only thing I could do; I booked a room and took myself. It was bliss. I went for walks, brought a book to dinner and ordered three courses with no one to hurry me. I bought myself a massage at the spa. In short, I had a date with myself and it was the best ever.
Since then, I’ve driven the Pacific Highway marvelling at the view and the sense of contentment I felt staring out at the ocean by myself. I’ve stayed in a five-star hotel and decided it was overrated. I haven’t been to Venice yet, but it’s on the list, and if I meet someone after, well, I can always go again.
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Photograph: Mark Harrison for Psychologies