How Alex Turner (and Stanley Kubrick) predicted the "space hotel"

3 March 2021, 20:50 | Updated: 5 March 2021, 22:34

Alex Turner surveys his Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino model; Stanley Kubrick on the space station set in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Alex Turner surveys his Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino model; Stanley Kubrick on the space station set in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Picture: Domino/YouTube/Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Plans for the world's first "space hotel" were unveiled this week - but both Arctic Monkeys and 2001: A Space Odyssey got there first.

By Martin O'Gorman

Twitter has been lively with the news that plans for humanity's first "space hotel" are well underway - and that we'll see it before the decade is out. Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC) has revealed its very ambitious plans to open the very first hotel outside the Earth's atmosphere. Named Voyager Station, the luxury space will have its own gravity and can accommodate up to 400 people. And when will this far-flung vision of Earth's future be expected to open? In 2027. Six years from now.

Arctic Monkeys fans know, however. They remember the title track of the band's last album from 2018: Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino pictures the person who might be manning reception in a hotel on the moon: "Good afternoon, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino / Mark speaking / Please, tell me, how may I direct your call?"

However, the Monkeys frontman didn't come up with the idea - the thought of holidaying among the stars has been a fantasy held by many people for decades now.

Alex Turner has been pretty forthcoming about his influences - he’s been obsessed with the films of the legendary director Stanley Kubrick - particularly The Shining (1980) and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, the same year that Arctic Monkeys' album came out.

The whole Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino concept seems to have come from a scene in 2001 where the character Dr Heywood Floyd is making a trip to Clavius Base on the moon, where a mysterious black monolith has been found.

Floyd stops over at a space station before making his way to Clavius - and spends the layover in the lobby of Space Station Five’s very own Hilton Hotel. All very futuristic and all very 1960s at the same time.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Picture: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

Alex Turner told Radio X back when the record was released: “The album artwork started from a picture that I saw of someone in the art department of 2001: A Space Odyssey, building the set for the Hilton on the moon. At this point, we’d already decided to call the album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, so we began to think of things that may be in the lobby of this place.

“The thing that I became most obsessed with that there was a model of the place inside the lobby. That’s where I focused most of my attention and time, not figuring out what the place itself looked like, but what the model of the place in the lobby would. I made the model.”

Keir Dullea In 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
Keir Dullea In 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. Picture: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

“Technological advances / Really bloody get me in the mood / Pull me in close on a crisp eve, baby / Kiss me underneath the moon's side boob.”

Meanwhile, in The Shining, Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) takes on the job of a caretaker for a huge hotel over the winter… and realises there’s something evil hidden in the walls of the building.

Hotels, cosmic travel and trips into inner space - they’re all mixed up into the song and video for Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

Alex Turner in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Alex Turner in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Picture: YouTube/Domino Records
Jack Nicholson on the set of The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, and directed by Stanley Kubrick
Jack Nicholson on the set of The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Picture: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Alex Turner’s imagination was kick started by wondering who would be on reception.

“First of all, there was a bloke with a phone and he says ‘Mark speaking’ and I’m like, where is he?,” Turner explained to Radio X in 2018. “I decided that he was there [at the Tranquility Base]. It happened backwards like that.”

US Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, walking on the Moon July 20 1969. Taken during the first Lunar landing of the Apollo 11 space mission by NASA.
US Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, walking on the Moon July 20 1969. Taken during the first Lunar landing of the Apollo 11 space mission by NASA. Picture: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Tranquility Base itself is the site where Apollo XI touched down on 20 July 1969, marking the first time mankind had set foot on the moon. But Turner’s inspiration was a little more down to earth.

He told Radio X’s John Kennedy: “I’ve got some cups that are Apollo mission cups and the word tranquility is in reference to the site of the first moon landing, folks.

“There’s a picture of the eagle and I think it says Tranquility Base.”

The frontman explained that it was one small step to naming the album after the song: “When it comes to giving the record its title, there may be something you want to convey and you have a title that does that perfectly, but then something else comes along that fits the bill better.”

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