The reception desk at the National Hotel in Moscow is at the end of a long, narrow room. Getting there is a long walk, being watched by the receptionist all the way. I defer my gaze, feeling like a supplicant.
In American hotels, the desk is wide and embracing, and the space in front of it is shallow. You reach the desk rapidly, and you’re in control of the approach. You can almost pounce on the receptionist before they see you coming.
A long walk up, under scrutiny; a short walk to a wide welcome. Space, time, gaze: a primer in establishing who’s in control.