After a night in a hotel, guests gather up their belongings and depart. Photographer Giulia Dini’s series Left Behind explores the traces that remain.

‘I’m a nostalgic person so I’m drawn to subjects that have a relationship with the concept of memory and being’, she explains. ‘And I wanted to do something about intimacy.’

Giulia Dini's photo essay 'Left Behind' featuring empty hotel rooms
Installation view of Giulia Dini’s photo essay, Left Behind

Calling in favours from contacts, Dini convinced some of Milan’s best hotels such as the Principe Di Savoia, LaGare and STRAF to give her access to rooms in the crack of time just after their inhabitants had left, before cleaners arrived to return the spaces to blank anonymity.

‘The way we leave our hotel rooms says something about the people that we are,’ she says. ‘I always put things in order. I put rubbish in the bin, I almost make the bed – I hate the idea of leaving a mess. I wanted to show how each person leaves behind something intimate and unique, even when everything that is actually theirs has gone.’

Giulia Dini's photo essay 'Left Behind' featuring empty hotel rooms
Photography: Giulia Dini

Each image is framed with the bed as the central feature. At first it is hard to see much difference, but then details emerge – imprints on a bed showing which side a guest slept on; a bedside lamp left on; pillows rumpled, tossed to the floor or neatly stacked. Some guests clearly made a swift departure, others made time for a languid breakfast in bed.

Dini says: ‘I wanted to explore this contrast of people living their most intimate moments in these unfamiliar places – to get closer to these strangers who, just for a very short time, had made these spaces their home. I have whole stories in my head for each one.’

Giulia Dini's photo essay 'Left Behind' featuring empty hotel rooms
Photography: Giulia Dini

The project is not over yet. ‘I want to visit other cities,’ she says, ‘and find out if there are differences in how people behave in hotels around the world.’

Read next: An ode to the Modernist entryways of Milan

Tish is contributing editor at The Spaces. She also writes for AnOther Magazine

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