She is an intrepid woman, and if there is something she is afraid of, it is to be ordinary, boring and banal. "Life has to be fun," she says. "If it's not fun, then something is wrong." So she decided to try something new. An adventure. And wouldn't it be extremely fun to live in a hotel?
It is just before eight-thirty in the evening when Edda Hummer, a very, very slim woman of 80 years, with shoulder-length, silvery hair that was once blonde, appears to be floating down the stairs into the hotel lobby.
She sends a smile to the receptionist. Then she crosses the lobby, red wine-colored armchairs on a light marble floor, before pounding her black high heels across the dark parquet floor towards the brasserie. Like almost every evening for a good year.
Other people their age live in a nursing home. Madame Hummer, however, says that this would never be an option for her. She would find it unbearable to just see corpses walking around there. Instead, she packed her five suitcases and moved from her castle in Lorraine to Hotel Victor’s, which is around 30 kilometers away. A cream colored concrete and glass building on the edge of Saarbrucken is located not far from the French border, right next to a casino.
In the brasserie called Chez Victor’s, which belongs to the hotel, Madame Hummer greets the waiter, a man in black and white, with kisses, one on the left, one on the right.
"Ça va bien."
Then he leads her to her table, right next to the bar. Small lamps with a red shade provide a warm, soft light. In the background runs quietly – only almost too good to be true – La vie en rose by Edith Piaf.
Madame Hummer takes a seat. White tablecloth on dark wood. She crosses her legs, out of habit she looks at the map. But she also knows what she wants. The waiter knows it too. You know each other for a while.
"Would you like a glass, madame?"
"Why not?" She says and closes the card.
The waiter pours. Crémant d’Alsace, born in 2017, not a bad one. It is not the last glass this evening.
There were and are many people who live in the hotel. Although most of them are business travelers, engineers or sales managers, there is something glamorous about life in the hotel. Mainly because some of the long-term guests – or long stayer, as the hoteliers say – are very famous or at least once were.
Udo Lindenberg lives in the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg. Hans Albers lived for a long time in the Adlon in Berlin. John Wayne and Robert de Niro stayed at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. Coco Chanel settled in the Ritz in Paris for nearly 40 years. Her suite, 188 square meters in size, was renamed "Coco Chanel Suite" after her death.
Madame Hummer would find it silly if her two rooms on the third floor, 60 square meters, were to bear her name. "Champagne suite would be enough." She laughs.
It is not the laugh of an old woman who has four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and has successfully run a company for years. Madame Hummer's laughter appears light-hearted and light, as if her life hadn't been hurt or injured. Or maybe she's just particularly talented at hiding them. Or at least not to spoil their pleasure.
She says: "You can do everything too much. Drink too much Crémant, play too often in the casino. But to do without it would be a waste. I am for pleasure. You just have to cultivate it."
She was born in Austria in 1939, she says, in Muhr, a small village with 500 inhabitants in the Salzburg region. Her mother dies in a car accident when she is eleven years old. Her father runs a general store. Later she lives in Vienna, then in Belgium, she marries, she divorces. She has four children from two different men. She joins her father's company, who now has plastic handles for detergent boxes made in Worms and thus becomes very rich. She goes to France and establishes a branch of her father's company in which she produces plastic: Hummer Plastiques.