The Panopticon Hotel

This month I am lucky enough to be the featured new blogger for 4Thoughts this month. As part of my duties I have set the discussion topic of “The gaze in sex or kink”. I’ve been reviewing the entries this evening and they’re all incredibly good. There’s still time to submit so if you haven’t but want to, you still can!

One post in particular really distracted/inspired me, a post called “Would anyone like to watch?” by Kinky Katie. In it she tells a story about something that happened in a hotel (no spoilers, you’ll have to go read) and also discussed the idea of having someone watch you have sex. Because of the way my mind works I obviously started thinking about 18th century ideas for prison reform.

Towards the end of the 1780s Jeremy Bentham, social theorist and philosopher (and the inspiration for John Locke’s alias in LOST), developed the idea of a panopticon prison. It was intended to be a self-regulating prison where prisoners would regulate their own behaviour. The central premise was that each cell had a window through which their behaviour could be watched, but they couldn’t tell whether they were being watched. Thus, they had to act as though they were being watched all the time and would eventually change their behaviour. The idea was met with about as much welcome as Dominic Cummings throwing his car keys into your bowl, but it came back to me as I read Katie’s blog post.

Imagine a hotel where each floor consisted primarily of a long, straight corridor. On either side of this corridor are the hotel rooms. But there are no doors into the hotel rooms from this corridor. In fact, the entire wall of each room that backs onto this corridor is a one-way mirror, and the inhabitants of the room can only see the mirror side.

There are two types of paying guests. There are those who pay to use the rooms, and there are those who pay to use the corridor. The room guests do so in the knowledge that at any time, there could be any number of people in the corridor on the other side of the mirror watching them. They’ll never know for sure, never be able to see or hear them, and never be able to interact with them. And even if there is no one on the other side, the guests in the room will always be able to see themselves in the mirror. But the thought that someone may be on the other side of the mirror, watching, getting excited… maybe that could inspire the guests in the room.

What do you think of Hotel Panopticon? Sound like somewhere you would go? Or does it sound like the sort of place where you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…

Yeah, the picture doesn’t really go with the Hotel Panopticon theme but I took it today and quite like it, so you get to see it. Whether you like it or not, really.



9 replies on “The Panopticon Hotel”

I need to look at the entries from your prompt, it taps into a theoretical kink of mine and your hotel would do so also – I think I’d have a very exciting time with a partner in one of the rooms. The possibility of being watched without really knowing provides great frisson. Watching from the corridor? No thank you, not my thing.
I love your image – very dramatic but I am still puzzling what the objects blocking your upper body to me the image is dystopian.


The window thing in the hotel is such an interesting idea. I can see how it would work and what kinda feelings it might arouse. I don’t think it would do much for me because if I can’t see people watching me I kind of don’t care, like it isn’t real!
I like the picture you took, like PS said the picture kinda looked as if you were heading for that hotel! And it captures the vibe well imo. Plus it looks good on you!

Liked by 1 person

I love this picture and also your hotel idea. I think I would rather be in the room than watching but I would also want to know who was out there and what they thought. 🙂


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