We don’t have a “Best-Of” award here at Humm. We’d like to, because they’re handy and popular, and they’re easier to do than the usual objective autopsy reports we crank out. But quality in the kinds of things we tend to review—adult animations, sex toys, scripted furniture, etc.—is largely a matter of personal taste or preference, and that makes direct comparisons between different items pretty meaningless, a matter of apples and oranges. Then there’s really no way to say which one’s “better” when it’s a matter of subjective taste, so we’ve been reluctant to start any “Best-Of” lists..
But we’re going to be doing more reviews of places and venues and sims in general, and it’s a lot easier to compare these with some objectivity. Clubs should be entertaining, meat-markets should be full of people, playgrounds should provide lots of playthings, hotels should have lots of interesting rooms.
Which brings us to the topic of the day: the Hotel Elysium, and wouldn’t you know, the Elysium is Winner of our first HUMM’s Excellence in Virtual Erotic Arts award, the HEVEA*, in the category of Quality SL Sex Hotels. Congratulations to The Elysium’s owner/manager Ms. Ivana Hanni, herself an artist and connoisseur of SL eroticism and an owner who still makes regular use of her own creations[i], fine tuning, adjusting, improving. Ivanna views her hotel as a work of erotic art rather than merely a money-generating business, and brings an artist’s level of passion, creativity, and quality to the Elysium that we’ve seldom if ever seen matched.
The Category and the Competition:
To appreciate the excellence of the Hotel Elysium, it helps to know something about Second Life sex hotels in general.
A sex hotel/motel is simply a place that sets itself up as a temporary lodging, and rents out rooms for sex on an hourly rate. People rent them for any number of reasons. For some, the rooms are simply a place to find some peace and privacy and provide a change of scene. For others, the very act of staying in a hotel or motel can inspire some creative role play in all sorts of ways. Just as in real Life, there’s something just a little bit wicked about making love in such a transitory and anonymous place where things are pared down to the essentials of human life: a door, a closet, a TV, and a bed.
In the SL versions, the rooms always come supplied with a few sex-scripted furnishings that vary from place to place. Typically, there’s one to three of these toys available in a room, but all too often the animations are a bit out of date, a generation or two behind what’s current. A lot are just out of adjustment, Maintenance isn’t always a priority.
Décor in most of these places is usually intentionally down-scale: decayed, decrepit, and seedy, especially in the motels. The seediness is part of their funky anti-charm, a kind of low-rent, sleazy and dirty aesthetic designed to echo the sordid and sleazy atmosphere of raw carnality of sex in a by-the-hour motel.
Hotels, on the other hand, tend to be not as seedy as motels, and their funk factor runs from the charmingly run-down to the decidedly upscale. They provide a more respectable experience, more in line with what you might find in a contemporary corporate-chain hotel, and decidedly more middle class.
Both sex hotels and motels in Second Life usually have a few themed rooms: rooms decorated and furnished to create custom settings for specific erotic themes or fantasies. So it’s not unusual to find a dungeon room, say, or a hooker’s crib; a gangster’s hide-out, a vampire’s cave. Exotic rooms are also common: tropical beaches, redwood forests, even an undersea bubble at one place. Some of these rooms are fun, most seem half-hearted.
Environments, not Rooms
As soon as you step into a room at the Hotel Elysium, you realize that this is a whole different kind of beast. Though the Elysium still functions as a typical SL sex hotel with a lobby and a front desk (unmanned), and rooms that rent for 30 or 60 minutes (or more), there’s a lot more behind each door than just a bed, a chair, and a window that looks out onto a blank brick wall. Rather, each room is a fantasy setting, a space or environment typically much larger that you’d expect, beautifully designed and lavishly decorated, equipped with the finest and newest SL animations.
These aren’t “rooms” in the conventional sense. These are worlds, or situations, or moments in time. They’re stage sets waiting for you and your lover (and whomever else you bring) to play out your own sexual drama. This isn’t a place to come for a quick boff on someone else’s mattress. These rooms are meant to be explored and discovered and enjoyed. They’re meant to play into the sexual action and provide atmosphere, context, and tone.
There are (as of our last count) 22 different rooms, each devoted to a different and often quite surprising erotic or sexual theme. Each room is unique, with its own size, layout, furnishings, ambience, and lavish décor. Each comes equipped with a generous number of erotic animations and toys, sexual discoveries and opportunities. All the animations we saw were new and from the very best manufacturers, many were custom, and some seemed to have original animations.
But the rooms aren’t really “rooms” at all. They’re suites; 2 rooms minimum, most more like 4-6, and some even bigger yet. So of course they vary in size, just as they vary in layout, structure, and design, and they can range from fairly snug (The Artists’ Room) to spaces large enough to contain not only a cabin and deck, but a good chunk of surrounding woods (The Vacation Cabin) or jungle (The BDSM Ruins).
This disconnect between what you expect and what you actually see put us in mind of TV’s Dr.Who and his Tardis time machine. The Tardis looks like a perfectly normal British phone booth from the outside, but inside opens up to contain huge spaces and galleries and floors of rooms. Because the Tardis is poly-dimensional, it has more dimensions inside than out.
Renting a room is convenient and simple. The Elysium has no visible staff and is all self-service. All the rooms are set around a central court with the name of the room and a
picture of the interior over the door. The Elysium allows visitors to explore any room for 3 minutes free of charge. If you want the room, you pay the transporter for the desired time and the room is yours. If not, you TP back out into the hall. Once the room is yours, others can be admitted. We can’t say how many others, but we did see at least one bed that would take a foursome.
Ms Hanni is always adding, changing, or redoing rooms as the spirit moves her, but when we were there, the following 22 rooms were available. Rental for all was the same: L$70/30 minutes, L$150/60 minutes, L$220/90 minutes, We might add that every room comes with an Intan dance ball along with all the other amenities.
- The Vault Red Room: a strikingly modern high-rise condo with a huge ominous bank vault door on the wall. You just have to see the shocking things inside…
- The Artist Apartment: a Bohemian flat for playing artist and model, posing her, sketching her, till she starts getting bored. Several rooms, including bedroom and bathroom.
- The Baroque Room: a large palatial suite from the 18th Century, lavishly decorated
in the lush, decadent, sensual style of the time. De Sade would be right at home.
- Summer Shack: a woodsy, secluded, mountain get-away with hot tub, deck, and acres of woodlands around. The kind of place where a long weekend can get weird and twisted…
- The Devil Room: Satan’s bedroom? Or maybe his guest room. A cave done in dramatic blacks and reds and yellows replete with flames and iron grates and portentous shadows. Plenty of delicious tortures for the damned.
- The Bondage Ruins: hidden in thick Central American jungle, the scattered altars and relics of an ancient lost civilization that apparently practiced sex magic, torture, and unimaginable barbarities. It’s an atmosphere that might drive anyone mad. Bondage and suspension opportunities abound.
- Kidnap Hut: A hideout for you and your abducted victim. Just a shack in the sticks but with plenty of places to tie her up and gag her while you figure out what to do with her (as if you really have to think about it!) Clever set up lets her escape so you have to hunt her down in the woods and drag her back. But she’s not going anywhere.
- Shibari Room: A wealth of Shibari variations in a simple but ornate Japanese setting.
- FemDom’s Studio: Walls are tucked and rolled red and black vinyl. The light is low and wickedly red. Front room is her desk where you bravely try to convince her you’re not really a submissive. The toys and chains and whips are in the other room, where she teaches you fairly quickly that you’re whatever she wants you to be.
- Latex Room: Two steps away from FemDom’s room is this latex-lover’s wet dream. Latex on the walls, on the floor, swagged from the ceiling, wrapped over the sculptures. Latex bed, latex chairs. Dress code should be obvious.
- Girl’s Apartment: Who would have thought of this as sexy? A single girl’s sex-in-the-city apartment in some urban high-rise. She’s very popular and probably always out or getting laid because the place has a very realistic messy femininity that’s both sweet and very sexual. All very Cosmo.
- Library: A wealthy gentleman’s library, large, old, and a bit seedy. Or perhaps it’s a professor’s retreat, a private kind of place where students could come to beg for a change in their grade?
- Oriental Room: A large, spacious, beautifully decorated play room for a Sultan or
Pasha and his latest, very special slave. Of course there’s a dance pole, and a cage, and person rugs loaded with obscene animations. This room also has one of the finest scripted love beds I’ve ever come across in SL. Belly-dance animations included
- Winter Shack: For snowed-in fun and sex in front of the fire
- Classic Room: For those longing for that bland anonymity of a plain old sex hotel/motel, this room does it in spades. Lots of room, lots of toys, X-rated TV.
- Honeymoon Suite: Heart-shaped bathtub, heart-shaped bed, heart-shaped hearts, hearts and flowers all over the place. I didn’t have a chance to check out the animations, but I hope that they’re kinky as hell! ;-P
- Modern Room: See Classic Room above. Didn’t really check this one out much, except to notice that the furniture was more “moderne.”
- Roman Bath: Yes it is, and it’s especially good for 3-somes and orgies. A (presumably) hot pool, a (presumably) cold pool, fountains, pillows, Beds, statues, a passion pit. Bring your own slaves.
- The Gym: I guess there are people who get off on the idea of getting laid in a gym. I’m not one of them, though.
- Classroom: This looked like a pretty full classroom. Not just a teacher’s table and a couple student desks. All you need for your naughty student-teacher fantasies. Or teacher-student- fantasies.
- Hospital: The works: ER, crash cart, Doctor’s office next door, hospital ward behind that. Nurse play, horny doctors, helpless or drugged patients. Or helpless and drugged doctors and horny patients. It’s your choice
- Exotic Bath: Somewhere between the between the opulence of the Roman Baths and a Turkish steam bath.
Each of these rooms has at least 3 toys or pieces of scripted furniture (and most have more), all of it first-rate, top-tier stuff, many pieces custom-made, some with original animations. pieces even custom as far as we could tell.
All This Being Said…
This being Second Life, the Hotel Elysium isn’t perfect, and we’ve experienced some problems with the check-in and time-of-stay software. But all our problems were either resolved quickly (Ivana is on-site more often than not), or we were compensated for our trouble. We have no complaints.
Sexiness vs. Eroticism
The Hotel Elysium succeeds on many levels, but what really set it apart was the singular creativity shown in the choice of room themes. Any good SL sex hotel will have some rooms for the most popular fantasies; but few would see the erotic potential in a deserted summer cabin, a 20-something’s untidy apartment, an 18th century drawing room, or a mob boss/crooked politician’s private condo. Who knows what kind of inspiration they’ll bring to your role play and sexual dynamics? And who knows what that might teach you about yourself and your lover?
Ivana has an eye for the erotic, not just the sexual. There’s a big difference. Sex is about physical sex. Eroticism is about all the other stuff that goes with the physical stuff and gives the sex such depth and meaning. Eroticism is what makes sex sexy. Without it, sex is just coitus.
Eroticism’s important because it’s a way of knowing the world and connecting to it. If you’re sensitive to eroticism, it’s almost like having a sixth sense or extra awareness.
Ivannah Hanni is a very erotic person who has provided SL with an almost-free exploratorium of the erotic world
*Yeah, I know it’s a bad name, but I got tired trying to think of clever acronyms and/or stepping on BOSL’s toes. Hopefully, some pervert here will somehow manage to die during cybersex and we’ll be able to name the award after him, like they did with the Oscars and Tonies.
[i] Ms Hanni is also owner/operator/dedicated customer of Castle Ivanna, a private club for male dominants, which will be reviewed iat a later date.