Hotel Denouement is the primary setting of The Penultimate Peril.
The imposing nine-story structure stood on the edge of a lake, seemingly leaning forward as though it could fall into the lake at any moment. All of the letters and numbers that decorated the outside of the building were forged backwards. This was because when leaning over the lake, the water shows the reflection of the structure with the labels correctly spelled. The building was covered with lilies and moss, to imitate the lake's surface. There is a domed ceiling above the main lobby, from which hangs an enormous clock.
There is a secret underwater library located under a pond by the hotel.
At the end of the novel, the hotel is set on fire by the Baudelaires as a signal to V.F.D. that "the last safe place is safe no more" and to delay Count Olaf from unleashing the Medusoid Mycelium in the hotel lobby (which could have potentially spread to the entire city). It is unknown who survived and who perished in the fire.
The clock is built into the ceiling of the Hotel Denouement. The description given by Lemony Snicket in The Penultimate Peril is thus:
The clock in the lobby of the Hotel Denouement is the stuff of legend, a phrase which here means "very famous for being very loud." It is located it the very center of the ceiling, at the very top of the dome, and when the clock announces the hour, its bells clang throughout the entire building, making an immense, deep noise that sounds like a cetain word being uttered once for each hour. At this particular moment, it was three o'clock, and everyone in the hotel could hear the booming ring of the enormous bells of the clock, uttering the word three times in succession: Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Dewey mentions that he is the one who winds the clock.
Dewey Denouement, Frank and Ernest's triplet brother, is a sub-sub-librarian, and caretaker of the clock inside of the hotel. For this reason, he is not seen much, and many people believe that Frank and Ernest are twins and do not have a brother.
Hal owns an Indian restaurant in Room 954. When Heimlich Hospital burned down, Dewey's associate traveled to the site and discovered Hal in a very distraught condition. She offered him a position at the hotel, where he might aid V.F.D. in their research.
The hotel was built with nine floors and a basement, organized in the format of a library, using the Dewey Decimal System. Each floor contains only clients and rooms that are themed for topics that would fit that floor's number range.
Each of the stories are dedicated to different things:
- The second story has religion stuff on it like a church, a cathedral, a chapel, a synagogue, a mosque, a temple, a shrine, and a shuffleboard court.
- The third story has social science stuff on it like ballrooms and meeting rooms.
- The fourth story is dedicated to language where most of the foreigners stay during their visit.
- The fifth story is dedicated to mathematics and science.
- The sixth story is dedicated to technology.
- The seventh story is dedicated to the arts.
This is a list of all of the rooms that are mentioned, along with the proper translation of what the room number means in the Dewey Decimal System. Each of them has a number on them:
- 000 - Employees Quarters - 000 is Generalities: Because it is a hotel, all of the employees are there to serve customers, and therefore they are general help. This is located in the basement level of the hotel.
- 025 - The Laundry Room - 025 is Library Operations: This name seems to be attributed to the fact that the sugar bowl is supposed to fall into the room via the outside chute. This is located in the basement and could point to the fact that more covert operations could possibly have taken place in that room in the past. The Laundry Room was the site of where the Hotel Denouement fire started.
- 101 - Reception Desk - 101 is the Theory of Philosophy: This number was used because of the connotation of the number 101 as being a number used to refer to the basic level of an academic class subject when Frank or Ernest describe it to the disguised Baudelaires. However, this was also used because "Theory of Philosophy" means, essentially, "the idea of truth or knowledge." The receptionist's desk, where you can find knowledge of activities and available rooms in a building, is loosely associated with this description.
- 118 - Elevator - 118 is Force and Energy: This makes sense for very obvious reasons. Force and energy are two of the basic properties that allow an elevator to run properly.
- 121 - The Closet where the Harpoon was kept - 121 is Epistemology; Theories of Knowledge: It is not clear what is supposed to be kept in the room, but it has been said that it is used as a closet. The Baudelaires are locked here until the trial begins.
- 123 - The Green Wooden Floors of the Lobby - 123 is Determinism and Self-Determinism - Events are pre-determined by preceding events or laws; the actions of a self are determined by itself: This was chosen because when one walks across any floor it is usually with purpose. Whether or not you are heading somewhere to complete a task for yourself of for someone else, the decision by either you or someone else has to be made for you to do it. Sometimes even events determine where you are going, and not people. Members of the cleaning staff were seen polishing the Green Wooden Floors.
- 128 - A Large, Wooden Bench in the Lobby - 128 is Humankind: This number was used because sitting on a bench means that you may meet and befriend those whom you did not previously know. Also, because only humans sit on benches in parks and other such public places. This bench was etched with rings from the drinks that did not have coasters placed under them.
- 131 - The Enormous Fountain in the Lobby - 131 is Occult Methods for Achieving Well-Being: This is used because it describes the habit of people dropping coins into a fountain and making various wishes.
- 135 - Couches - 135 is Dreams and Mysteries": This is where guests can take a nap or conceal something under the cushions. Frank or Ernest described this to the disguised Baudelaire children.
- 152 - Grand Piano in the Lobby - 152 is Perception, Movement, Emotions, Drives: These are all things that describe not only what inspires the creation of music, but how it affects an audience was well. A man in a tuxedo played tunes on the grand piano for anyone who cared to listen.
- 165 - The room in which Count Olaf was stored before the trial - 165 is Fallacies and Sources of Error: This is also one of those numbers that is used specifically because of the characters. Count Olaf is locked here until the trial begins.
- 168 - The Newsstand - 168 is Argument and Persuasion: This is labeled so because printing articles in a newspaper is for the purpose of presenting a particular argument to the readers with the purpose of persuasion to a specific viewpoint. Exempting editorials, of course. Frank or Ernest had to show a bellgirl to the Newstand.
- 174 - A room where a banker was staying - 174 is Economic and Professional Ethics: This is the room where a banker "picked up the phone only to find no one on the line". It is not indicated whether or not this banker was Arthur Poe, although later it is revealed that he was indeed staying in that room.
- 175 - The Concierge Desk - 175 is the Ethics of Recreation and Leisure: This chosen obviously because it is the job of a concierge to provide anything that the guests might need for enjoying their stay at the hotel. Frank or Ernest described this to the disguised Baudelaire children.
- 178 - The Coffee Shop - 178 is Ethics of Consumption: This is the coffee shop where "a villain requested sugar in his coffee, was immediately thrown to the floor so a waitress (possibly the Waitress that previously worked at Café Salmonella) could see if he had a tattoo on his ankle, and then received an apology and a free slice of rhubarb pie for all his trouble".
- 296 - The Room occupied by a Rabbi - 296 is Judaism: Because a Rabbi generally falls under the umbrella of a faction of religion branched off of Judaism. This is also the room in which "a volunteer suddenly realized that the Hebrew language is read from right to left rather than left to right". Frank or Ernest described this to a disguised Baudelaire children where he claimed that the Rabbi was somewhat cranky.
- 371 - The Room filled with Educational Guests - 371 is School Management; Special Education: Because the people in that room turned out to be the orphans' old teachers and vice-principal that worked at the Prufrock Preparatory School from The Austere Academy, this number fits perfectly.
- 469 - The Room occupied by one of the Portuguese Guest -
- 547 - A Room dedicated to Organic Chemistry - 547 is Organic chemistry: Although the chemist in costume in the book was a disguise for Colette, there is no doubt that there is a chemistry lab in the Hotel Denouement.
- 594 - A Room containing tanks of tropical fish - 594 is Mollusca and Molluscoidea: The room where a family sat "unaware that underneath a cushion of a sofa in the lobby was the doily for which they had been searching for nine years"
- 613 - The sauna - 613 is the Promotion of Health: Some believe that saunas are for relaxation, but other believe that sitting in a sauna can cure sickness and illness. Both descriptions fall under this category, particularly because stress is a large catalyst of many medical conditions.
- 674 - The Room filled with Associates in the Lumber Industry - 674 is Lumber Processing, Wood Products: This is where Sir and Charles are staying in the Hotel and were taken to the sauna by a disguised Klaus.
- 697 - Room where the controls for heating, ventilation, and air conditions are kept - 697 is Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning: This is rather self explanatory. There were no tricks or metaphors in this description at all.
- 786 - The Room in which a concertina is available - 786 is Keyboard and Other Instruments: It is implied that this is a general music room available for practice and stocked with spare instruments.
- 792 - The Theatre - 792 is Stage Presentations: Self-explanatory.
- 831 - A Gathering of German poets - 831 is German Poetry: Self-explanatory. Frank or Ernest use this room as an example when explaining to the disguised Baudelaires how the hotel's Dewey decimal system works.
- 954 - The Indian Restaurant - 954 is General History of Asia, South Asia, India: Although a general category is a strange place to put something specific like cuisine, the connection through the Indian food is made quite clearly.
- 999 - The Astronomy Observatory - 999 is Extraterrestrial: Because many watch the skies for foreign signs of life in space, this number was chosen for the observatory.
- Unnumbered - Rooftop Sunbathing Salon: "People who sunbathe aren't usually interested in library science, so they're not picky about the salon's location." - Frank/Ernest Denouement. The bell for this is unmarked since the Hotel's Dewey decimal system doesn't go higher than 9.
- The Slippery Slope (Mentioned Only)
- The Grim Grotto (Mentioned Only)
- The Penultimate Peril
- The End (Mentioned Only)
- The hotel's phone number is 800-632-1709.
- Lemony Snicket hints that the hotel, like so many other safe places of VFD, contains untold secrets besides its pond.
- The hotel appears to be based of the Library Hotel in New York City.