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Hope Street Hotel turns 20!

Seconds, minutes, years, decades, centuries -- humans have an almost insatiable need for timekeeping. The earliest recorded example of timekeeping was found in 2004, when archeologists discovered a 10,000 year-old lunar calendar near Aberdeen in Scotland. Our stone-age ancestors built a series of 12 pits across a 50-metre arc, which tracked the regular cycle of lunar phases -- even making room for the mid-winter solstice, allowing them to recalibrate their calendar with the seasons.

We’ll never know for definite why this early community felt the need to physically mark the passing of time into their landscape, but we can surely understand the urge. We’re a long way off from digging pits to check what month we are in, but it is a testament to how important this information is to us in how our phones, computers and devices, as well as analogue modes like calendars, keep us in the loop about where we’re up to in the year. Clocks, whether they appear on our walls, wrists or laptops, let us know what time we have woken up or how long we have left until our work shifts are over. It’s almost impossible not to know if we’re running early or running late. Time does not often get away from us.

People themselves are also a testament to timekeeping. A standard piece of information we offer over to new acquaintances is how old we are (that is, if we’re comfortable sharing it). When we were younger, we might have added a year or two on; in the future we might find ourselves shaving a couple of years off. Age has a currency, whether that be determining if it is legal to do something, or assimilating into a group of agemates. It can also be freeing; as soon as I turned 30, I heard myself saying that I was past caring about a lot of things that seemed like the end of the world years prior.

There is a grandiosity in ageing, and that doesn’t just apply to people. Hope Street Hotel is turning 20 years old in 2024, which marks much more than how long the business has been operating. In those 20 years we’ve grown from 48 bedrooms and one restaurant to 89 bedrooms to 149 bedrooms, a sister hotel, two restaurants and a spa. Growth like that isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. For a business to be able to say that they have been open for 20 years is quite something, but to have tangible expansion is really something to be proud of.

Perhaps our stone-age ancestors sought to mark the time that passed between their own achievements. Crop growth and animal cultivation were most likely top of their list of things to track, but it’s nice to imagine that birthdays and anniversaries of different kinds were also traced. As for us, we’re twenty lunar cycles in, with many more to go.