“[Leonard Cohen] touched me with his empathy and understanding.” The Story Of A Canadian Singer-Songwriter, A Slovak Hotel Maid, & A Moment Of Humanity In Manchester

DrHGuy Introduction: Accounts of the graciousness of Leonard Cohen are hardly rare. This letter, however, is an especially touching description of his spontaneous act of kindness towards a hotel housekeeper and the impact it had on her.


Dear Leonard Cohen,

I am writing to thank you for the graciousness you showed me when you came to Manchester in the middle of June, 2008.1 I worked at the Malmaison hotel as a housekeeper on the 5th floor. That day I was tasked with cleaning 504, a room occupied by a VIP registered as “Mr Jim Dandy.”

I came across an older gentleman, who began to converse with me. At first I just kept smiling and concentrating on cleaning. But after a while, I was taken by his curiosity about my life in Manchester. Nobody before had been interested in me, about how I was professionally degraded because in my country I had achieved two Masters, but in England I was the lowliest of the hotel’s employees, about how I missed my family and friends, and about my lack of cultural and sports activities except running around the corridors of the hotel.

This unknown gentleman kept asking me questions and listening to what I said. I mentioned my observations about the difference in the architecture of Manchester compared to that of Bratislava (my hometown), Prague, Vienna or Budapest, or even London. I spoke about the reason I left my life from Slovakia and moved to England, a foreign country (to improve my English).

The man touched me with his empathy and understanding. He spoke as though he knew very well what was difficult about working in a hotel.

He began to speak about traveling the world with wonderful people to perform concerts in different cities. This mysterious man also advised me that finding a man will definitely make my life abroad easier. At the end of our conversation he suggested if I attended the concert I would love it. I agreed.

I picked up the ticket reserved in my name at the Opera House. I still could not believe it. Then, reading the program, I found I was in the front row of a Leonard Cohen concert. The stage curtain opened and my unknown man – Leonard Cohen – appeared on stage. From the first moment, I was overcome with the realization of who it was I the honor to meet and who had invited me to the concert.

It was an amazing, absolutely indescribable evening with beautiful music, all live in a sold-out theater.

The next day I excitedly ran to work, only to break into tears – my mysterious, wonderful man and his band had checked out. I never had the chance to thank him.

I hope this letter reaches you to express my gratitude and deep appreciation.


Borislava Vanova


P.S. Unfortunately, you were wrong about one thing – it turns out that, at least so far, life is not easier with a man.


Leonard Cohen Performs Wither Thou Goest at Manchester Opera House
June 19, 2008
Video bycohenadmirer1


Credit Due Department: Hotel photo by Matt Brown – https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/6371575085/, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted on 1HeckOfAGuy.com, predecessor of Cohencentric.


  1. Leonard Cohen played concerts at The Opera House in Manchester June 17-20, 2008 []

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