10 Best Hotels For Book Lovers
By Carrie Bell
Thanks to flight deals, better room rates, school being back in session and the return of crisper weather that encourages fireplace usage and snuggling under covers with the latest must-read, fall is quite possibly the perfect time for a romantic getaway.
To ensure that your autumnal adventure is lit-erary, check into one of these 10 hotels that cater to fans of the written word and aspiring novelists with themed accommodations/packages, lettered pedigree, great libraries and partnerships with like-minded companies including Audible or local bookstores.
1. & 2. The InterContinental New York & The InterContinental The Clement Monterey
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts teamed up with Audible and executive producer of The Paris Review podcast, Brendan Francis Newnamto, to curate a list of audiobooks set in the cities where the hospitality brand has properties. Think Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote for New York, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Tahiti) or Brick Lane by Monica Ali (London). The Barclay and Clement (whose title is John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row) take the Stories of the InterContinental Life program a step further by offering Novel Nights, a package that includes a free download of a title from the list, cocktail and chocolate turndown amenity. And don’t worry if you get caught up in the book and miss your bedtime because it includes a 2 p.m. late checkout. Newnam also discusses the collection with guests as the host of periodic literary salons.
3. The Balmoral Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland
Prior to Pottermania taking over the world, J.K. Rowling wrote much of the first four books in the boy magician series in cafes sprinkled around her adopted hometown of Edinburgh including Nicolson’s Café (which is now called Spoon) and The Elephant House. But once she became one of the most famous authors in the world, she was forced to seek somewhere more private. When working at home provided too many distractions, she settled into room 552 at The Balmoral, a upscale five-star historic hotel next to the train station to finish the seventh and final tome. When she was done, she scribbled “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room on 11th Jan 2007” on a marble bust of Hermes. The suite has since been renamed the JK Rowling Suite, an owl decorates the door and the bust sporting her vandalism is displayed behind glass in the room. It is a splurge — the room generally goes for a thousand pounds per night — but likely worth it for the 'Gram if you’re a “the boy who lived” diehard.
4. The Duniway - Portland, Oregon
This year-and-a-half-old boutique’s name and funky feminist vibe were inspired by a pioneer in Pacific Northwest publishing and women’s rights/suffrage. At 18, Abigail Scott Duniway came to town via the Oregon Trail (and successfully didn’t die of dysentery). She wrote 22 books including the first novel commercially published in the state, edited several weekly publications and owned and operated a newspaper. Thanks to a partnership with the world’s largest independent bookstore Powell’s, which happens to be within walking distance from The Duniway, each room is stocked with female-penned books. (The exception is Top Chef Master's winner Chris Cosentino’s cookbook as his top-notch restaurant Jackrabbit anchors the ground floor.) The Library Suite has a massive wall of reading material. The Rosé All Day welcome amenity includes rosy sunglasses, multiple cans of local Underwood wine and a guidebook about the varietal written by a James Beard-winning PDX resident.
5. The Betsy - Miami, Florida
Grab your beach read and head south to this sophisticated and stylish spot that boasts in-room libraries built around the guest’s preferences, an impressive art collection and tranquil balconies and courtyards that are perfect places to curl up with a bestseller. In 2012, The Betsy also opened a dedicated writer’s room where more than 400 creators, including their designated writer in residence, have toiled at a desk once owned by Hyam Plutzik, a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist whose work ruminated on his time as a soldier in Florida before heading to war in the ‘40s. (His son owns The Betsy.) It will also host the 24th Jewish American & Holocaust Literature Symposium this November and is home to Escribe Aqui, an initiative that honors diversity of writing in any language.
6. The Press Hotel - Portland, Maine
The Press Hotel building has a storied past as the former headquarters of the Portland Press Herald and the designers capitalized on that past incarnation when planning the interiors of the hotel a few years ago. There are plenty of nods to its former resident – an exterior sign that spells out the name in typewriter keys, a massive wall art installation made out of vintage typewriters, sculptures made of oversized printing wood block letters, headline wallpaper as well as tables with authentic Press headlines and custom hallway carpet that looks like a jumble of typed letters. Rooms have oversized writer’s desks and reporter’s notebooks. The old city desk has been transformed into the Inkwell bar. Set the mood by pre-ordering wine/champagne or flowers for the room or hitting the spa for a themed treatment including the This just in... (Botox and Filler). Autograph Collection Hotels also recently launched a Screenwriters in Residence program which seeks to empower emerging female scribes in the movie and TV business.
7. Pera Palace Hotel - Istanbul, Turkey
Located in a historic district known as Little Europe, the 126-year-old glamorous landmark has seen many famous repeat visitors including Greta Garbo and Turkish leader Ataturk and dedicated quarters to them. Ernest Hemingway also has his own scribe suite at the Pera Palace Hotel. But it is the hotel’s association with Agatha Christie that secured its place on this list. It is believed that she wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411 and thus displays copies of her books and a replica of her typewriter. Istanbul is the end point of the world’s most recognizable train line and she stayed there often while researching the voyage for her murder mystery. Order detective Hercule Poirot’s favorite cocktail, the Grasshopper, in the elegant bar where Hemingway most certainly threw back a drink or two or 20 before heading over to tour Sirkaci Station.
8. The Library Hotel - New York, New York
Talk about a novel idea! This Big Apple high-rise was the first hotel to be organized by the Dewey Decimal System. Each of the 10 guest room floors of The Library Hotel represents one of the 10 main categories of knowledge in the library organizational method like Social Sciences, Languages, Technology or Philosophy and the hotel’s collection is 6,000 volumes strong. Romances and erotic tales are found on eight in the Literature section.
9. Sylvia Beach - Newport Beach, Oregon
Every room at this small coastal inn is inspired by a contemporary author including Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gertrude Stein and J.K. Rowling and is decorated accordingly. There’s also a large lending library and a comfy reading room with a wood-burning fireplace where cell phones are frowned upon but lively discussion between fans is not. Books and long walks on the beach to digest the meaning of said books are the main forms of entertainment here at Sylvia Beach as there are no TVs. It also provides good storm and whale watching seasonally.
10. The Gladstone - Flintshire, North Wales
Lots of hotels have libraries within their walls but the opposite is hardly ever true. The Gladstone, Britain’s only prime ministerial library founded by the Victorian statesman himself, offers 26 simple bedrooms most with book-themed décor and en suite facilities, in the North Wales countryside near the walled city of Chester. When in residence, patrons get extended access to the 250,000-strong lot (you can hang out in the public reading rooms until 10 p.m. while the public is cut off at 5 p.m.) and many of the books can be taken back to your room to be enjoyed. The Food for Thought bistro serves three meals a day and afternoon tea so you are never far from finding out what happens next.
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About the Author
Carrie Bell is an L.A.-based freelance writer, who covers entertainment, travel and weddings for Yahoo, Refinery29, POPSUGAR, Bridal Guide and many more. She loves ice cream, binging Outlander, yoga, cats and sloths.