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Travel to Hotel Arcadia with Sunny Singh

  • Submitted: 2nd June 2024

Travel to Hotel Arcadia with Sunny Singh

Sunny Singh heads too to stay in Hotel Arcadia. You are welcome along for a stay you will not forget!

Sunny Singh

(c) Sunny Singh

Hotel Arcadia is a deliberate mix of a number of luxury hotels including the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore, the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, and many more. These are not places I have stayed but they were a lot of fun to research.

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

When I began working on the novel, I was mindful of the 2008 attacks on various locations in Mumbai. These included two luxury hotels, The Oberoi and the iconic Taj Palace. However, in my research, I was struck by similarities to other terrorist attacks. For example, in 1984, there was an attack on the Grand Hotel in Brighton. In 1946, the King David Hotel was bombed.  Moreover, I found that in eight years following 9/11, the number of major terror attacks on hotels across the world had doubled.

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

This is why the main setting of my novel, the luxury hotel, is described in detail but the city is deliberately never identified. Luxury hotels are similar in design, function and the complicated interface between their rich and powerful guests and the often invisible staff. So Hotel Arcadia can be any and every place where power, luxury and violence collide.

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

When I moved to London in 2005, vast parts of the city were neither gentrified nor prohibitively expensive. I would go to homes and studios of artist and writer friends. These were often converted warehouses and other old industrial buildings. These were often vast and cavernous with industrial décor. They had high ceilings and bare walls which made them quite cold visually. In a literal sense, they appeared cold as because they lacked insulation and were impossible to heat. I knew from the beginning that Sam’s home would reflect her internal self and these warehouse conversions were exactly right.

Arunachal Pradesh

Abhi’s lake, “Somewhere in the Foothills”:

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

I grew up in the Himalayas. Some of my favourite childhood memories are from Arunachal Pradesh on the north eastern tip of India. It is a magical part of the world with high mountains, dense forests, tumultuous rivers, and stunning lakes.

I remember hiking through the forest with my dad, and finding remote tall waterfalls and pristine pools. Pools where the elephants came to drink. Once we came across an entire island in the middle of a river covered with millions of butterflies.

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

Abhi’s lake is a combination of the Sangestar Tso, Sela Lake in Sela Pass and Nagula Lake. All of these lakes are in Arunachal. Infrastructure development has made all of these accessible to more people.


Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

Yemen was hit by the US using a Hellfire missile from a Predator Drone in November 2002. I have long been interested in the hierarchy of victims of violence and how some of them are dismissed as ‘collateral damage.’

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

I wanted to reflect on victims of terrorism by non-state actors as well as the nation state, cycles of violence and how these feed into each other. This is why I placed Sam in the country at the time of this first strike. However, I moved the location from the Marib province to Hadramaut which has history and heritage dating back two thousand years.

Hotel Arcadia Sunny Singh

Map of Hotel Arcadia locations

Sam’s journey starts from Seiyun towards the Wadi Do’an (or Dawan).  She travels through the extraordinary, ancient city of Shibam, a UNESCO heritage site. After that, she heads towards Wadi Daw’an with stops in Alhajrain, Hawfah and other mudbrick villages.


For some of the story, we travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The  years between 1992-1995 were a period of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Sam’s route traverses through lush valleys, steep canyons, wild rivers and spectacular hills that bore witness to unspeakable human brutality. I wanted to reflect upon who we describe as terrorists, and how power and the scale of violence are often the only major differentiations. Although the village where Sam photographs the key incident is not named, it is based on Konjevici, Cerska.


BookTrail Boarding Pass: Hotel Arcadia

Twitter:  @ProfSunnySingh

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