What is Luxury?

October 18, 2008
How do you define luxury and necessity?

Impressions of Egypt Number 3

In keeping with the blog’s theme of “Enrich Your Life, Enrich Your Relationships,” this is one of several posts about a trip we took in December 2007, to Egypt. It definitely enriched my life and expanded my understanding of that country, and of the many challenges they face as they evolve into a different kind of country than the one I visited. — Note added in 2011 after the spring revolution

This entry could also be filed as one of my “visual viewpoints” you may have seen in earlier posts.

View of Nile from hotel balcony

When I chose this picture of our balcony looking out over the Nile for the blog, I got to thinking about luxury. Certainly I considered the suite of three rooms in Luxor, of which this balcony was a part, to be luxurious. And we had just finished a trip down the Nile from Aswan in a boat like the one at the top of the picture, where we also had excellent accommodations.

I reveled in the level of comfort to which I’d like to become accustomed.

We’ve been privileged to have several trips that provided what I would call luxury. For example, when my husband taught a four-day class in Japan about fifteen years ago, we were billeted on the twentieth floor of the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo, ate an elaborate breakfast on the fortieth floor, and generally felt pampered. Then when we went to the airport to fly home from that trip and approached the ticket counter, they informed us they were very sorry but the business seats were full (the company had paid his fare and we bought a business seat for me so we could sit together), would we mind riding in first class?

We allowed as how we would suffer through all the accouterments of the upper class: comfortable seats (the best part of it), real silver utensils (I understand that in these post 9/11 days even first class passengers are given plastic), linen napkins, excellent service, delicious fresh sushi, all the alcohol you desired, within reason I suppose, and that morning’s Los Angeles Times.

I call that luxury.

Then when we were coming back from Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2007, Quantas had a sign saying it had “seriously overbooked” (their words) the flight to Los Angeles and would we be willing to stay an extra day, leaving on the same flight the next night. The inducement was a night in a five-star hotel, taxi ride there and back, three meals in the upscale restaurant, and $600 each cash (American, which was a better deal at that time than it is now). It was terrific. We stayed across the street from the Auckland space tower (which is reflected in the blog of Unexpected Reflections) and had time to take a tour of the city, which we weren’t able to do earlier.

In our trip “down under” and in Africa there were a few places where we lived higher off the hog than we do here at home because they were part of our tour accommodations (like the hotel in Luxor). But we don’t choose the most expensive travel packages and our budget definitely doesn’t include staying at posh spots where you need finer clothes than I own.

Of course, when thinking about luxury away from home, I realize I’ve spent some absolutely wonderful evenings visiting with family and friends in restaurants where the service is deluxe even though the prices aren’t. But the main luxury comes from not having to plan the meal or do the dishes. Just sitting back and relaxing is luxury enough.

And though you may not think so, I look forward to the time of recovering from the back operation of Oct. 28 as a time when I can “luxuriate” in the pleasure of being taken care of by my husband and a daughter who will come from Boston for a week. I will have someone who can do for me all the little things I won’t be able to do myself. And might not a definition of luxury be to have others do for you what you would otherwise have to do for yourself?

How do you define luxury? What is the most luxurious vacation (or even single day) you’ve had? Ask your friends what they think luxury is. It might be an interesting conversation to discover the different levels of comfort and material wealth required before one considers their surroundings “luxurious.”

Please share your answers with me. I’d love to know. Enter your comments below or contact me through Support4Change.

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