Something that both my Brazilian and Japanese friends have found massively surprising is the fact that we don`t have motels in the UK. I don`t mean actual motels where you can get a bit of shut-eye like Travelodge or Premier Inn, but the kind where you can check in for a couple of hours with your lover, purely to share an `intimate moment`. They were puzzled as to how we managed to get down to business in our teens and twenties in the UK without access to motels, but considering that many of us leave home at 18 it`s probaly less of an issue for us (many people in Tokyo and São Paulo live with their parents well into their late twenties or basically until they get married). Not only that, but British people are on the whole much less religious these days and many parents are of the `it`s better under my roof than behind the bike sheds` school of thought, which may not be the case in other countries.
When living in Tokyo I was curious about the `Love Hotels` where you can pay by the hour because this concept doesn`t exist in my country and would perhaps be viewed by many as a bit seedy. In Japan it`s totally socially acceptable and the hotels are used by a varied clientele, in no way just prostitutes and clients (as I had originally presumed). Young people, married couples, people having affairs, pensioners… you name it, they`re using love hotels in Japan. There are a range of hotels on offer and guests can even choose from a selection of themed rooms such as space ships, hospital wards, train carriages, school classrooms, or dungeons. I was never lucky enough to be wooed in a dungeon myself but I did visit a couple of non-themed love hotels during my time in Japan. The whole thing is intended to be pretty anonymous. The entrances are usually very discreet and you pay for your room at reception, where the receptionist is behind a blind. In theory the blind means that they can`t see who`s there (although in my experience they don`t take this too seriously and tend to peer around the side to ease communication). You can expect to find delights such as a jacuzzi bath, revolving bed, mirrored ceiling, porn on demand and a room-service type menu with a range of sex toys on offer.
I`ve not experienced a Brazilian motel yet (although I probably will before I leave, just as another story for the Grandchildren), but apparently it`s a pretty similar set-up here in São Paulo (minus the space ship etc.). The main difference is that you apparently drive into a little private garage and enter the room yourself, rather than walking in off the street. You also don`t have any contact with the staff until you check out and pay. Apart from that though, it seems that the concept is pretty much the same. I was speaking to a Brazilian friend about motels recently and we were saying that having sex as an inexperienced young person is already quite a big deal, without throwing a mirrored ceiling and revolving bed into the equation. I also find the whole concept quite unspontaneous because it takes out the `will we, won`t we?`dimension because you kind of know that the deal has more or less been sealed when you arrange to go to the motel with someone, rather than inviting them back to your place where the arrangement is less explicit. Nevertheless, I think motels would go down a storm in the UK once people got used to the concept, and there`s always somewhere to have a drunken nap if nothing else.