For reasons which I may well Blog about later, I recently had to spend a week exiled in English seaside hotels - in Worthing as it happens but it could have been anywhere along the English coastline. So I won't name the establishments from which I generated this picture.
Off-season holiday hotels are never going to be much fun, but these hotels just stank. It was the same stink.
I looked around a bit. These are hotels which may have been renovated at some point in the past fifty years, but it's hard to tell when. Violent orange and black nylon carpet suggests the 1960s or 1970s, but dead floral carpet is hard to date. There are no easy to clean surfaces to be found anywhere in these hotels - especially not in the bathrooms - and much textured wallpaper and heavy curtain designed to make cleaning impossible.
Cleaning is impossible so the rooms, the corridors, the staircases are sprayed and have been sprayed on a daily basis for decades. Originally, the enemies would have been cigarette smoke and guests in sweaty nylon shirts. Now the cigarette smokers have gone but the nylon shirts are still worn by staff on work experience in the restaurant. The shirts may once have been white but it's far from certain.
Decades of spraying vaguely or wildly with air fresheners must be the cause of the Smell. If it had a colour it would be Pink or Grey and if it had a texture it would be Goo or Sludge. Pink Goo or Grey Sludge. I imagine it congealed under the floorboards, seeping out and clinging to your clothes as you walk the corridors trying not to breathe too deeply.
The solution is probably Demolition. Total Refurbishment might work but only if directed by refurbishers obsessed with ventilation, smooth surfaces, natural materials. In turn, the owners of these decomposing hotels would have to sign up to a No Air Fresheners Ever Code of Conduct.