Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Literary Hotels—Would You Stay?

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: My next Maggie Hope novel, MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE, is due to my editor on October 15th — and so I'm been thinking a lot about writing retreats. 
(Not only are the Hubby, Kiddo, Miss Edna, and cats Xander and Lola around, but we seem to have taken in another human, at least for a while. He's just twenty-one and was dealt a tough hand in life in general and also recently. And, so, we have another person hanging out with the gang for a while.)

Can you blame me for googling writing retreats? Looking for a room of one's own? A corner of the sky? (Oh, please, I'll settle for a door I can lock....)

What I found in the process of all this daydreaming was that there exist hotels inspired by writers and dedicated to readers. I was amazed by the depth and breadth of what I found. What fun!

The first hotel I discovered is actually in my home town of New York City. It's called The Library Hotel. The concept is amazing —

The Library Hotel concept is inspired by the Dewey Decimal system. Each of the 10 guestroom floors honor one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System and each of the 60 rooms are uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category it belongs to. Guests are invited to unwind from their urban adventures by enjoying the quiet exploration of over 6,000 books.

So, let's say you'd like to stay on the eighth floor, Literature. Well, you could then choose the Mystery room (or classic literature, fairy tales, or, hmmm, erotic literature room). 
You could write in your room, in the extensive library, or on the roof deck. Sigh.... If I could afford it, I'd finish the novel there.

The next book-themed hotel I found is called The Sylvia Beach Hotel ("truly a hotel for book lovers") in Nye, Oregon. They have rooms divided into types: Classics, Bestsellers, and Novels. A mystery buff could choose the Agatha Christie room — which has its own private deck, fireplace, and an ocean front view. Guests can choose from the many Christie books on the shelves and "perhaps find a clue from each mystery hidden somewhere in the room." There's also library/reading area and a restaurant.

And there's also Akwaaba, D.C. I've stayed at the Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn, but have yet to stay in the sister hotel in Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle.  However, I can't wait! The hotel's rooms are themed after African-American writers — and of course I'd pick the Walter Mosley suite. 

There's also a "Writer's Retreat" which is basically a really lovely apartment with galley kitchen, two bedrooms, etc. Sounds fabulous, doesn't it?



SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Reds and lovely readers, what do you think about these book- and reading-themed hotels? Would you stay? Which room would you choose? If you could create your own themed hotel room, what would be like?




37 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

120
Okay, I want to stay in the Library Hotel with all those books. I can't even begin to think of a better idea than this one . . . .

Jungle Red Writers said...

Right? The New York location is just wasted as far as I'm concerned -- I'd just want to read...

FChurch said...

Love the concept of a library hotel. And a writer's retreat. If I could design my own? A straw-bale Hobbit's hole with a round door, books in all the nooks and crannies, and a view over the sea, so I could dream and read and write.

And kudos to you and yours, for finding the space in your lives to squeeze in one more child in need. No matter the age, we're all a child in need at some point in our lives.

Kristopher said...

The Library Hotel has long been on my list of places to stay in NYC. I saw a Travel Channel documentary about it years ago and have since longed to stay there.

Since I travel to NYC fairly often, I always take a moment to look up the rates for when I am there. I have yet to break down and do it, but I suspect it will happen one of these days.

I also want to one day stay at Nora Roberts' Bed and Breakfast in Boonsboro, MD. I have been to the town (which her family pretty much owns, since they run a bookstore, a pizza place and the B&B. Each room in the place is designed after a different romantic couple. It's just lovely.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

A hobbit hole! Yes! I read somewhere that director Peter Jackman took Bilbo's hobbit hole from the movie set and uses it as a guest house.

Kristopher, I'll check out Nora Roberts' place!

Denise Ann said...

A year ago, I had to go to St. Louis for an event -- I found a wonderful hotel -- The Cheshire in St. Louis (www.cheshirestl.com). Each room was named for an author and the author's books were on a table in the room.
It was sort of a funky English place, but I loved it.

Ramona said...

These sound fabulous! I would go straight for the Library Hotel, but I would have to bring along my sister the librarian.

If you are serious about getting away, there are artist colonies spread throughout the country. I try to go for a 2-week residency in winter. This December, I'm checking out of regular life and going to living at a colony in Virginia for 18 days. No duties but to write. If you can rearrange your life (I could never do this when my children were young) I highly recommend it.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH lovely lovely lovely!

ANd yes, Kristopher, I'd adore to go to the Nora Roberts.

I'd love an Edith Wharton room, all puffy comforters and with hot tea and views of the Berkshires. They made her home in Lenox, The MOnt,into a kind of bizarre decorator show house, but whoa. What if we all bought it, yeah, and made it into The Wharton Inn? Now THAT would be cool.

Tammy said...

I can't choose; I want to stay in ALL ROOMS. Seriously, how wonderful. The Library Hotel goes on my list!

Hallie Ephron said...

I stayed in the Virgina Wolff room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel! I was teaching a weekend workshop for the wonderful Oregon Writers Colony (http://oregonwriterscolony.org/) and it was so lovely. Right on the beach. Great walking to take a break from writing. Charming guest rooms and common spaces.

Fortunately (or UNfortunately) my house is quiet most days with husband at work and daughters tucked away in their grownup lives. So my office IS my retreat. Susan, come visit me and we can share it!

Hallie Ephron said...

An aside... I recently stayed in a hotel that had a desk but no desk chair. The room was too small to fit anything more in it. Waste of a perfectly good desk and at $285 a night very annoying.

Triss said...

As a former ( actual) librarian, I find the Library Hotel a bit too much. Overthought, perhaps. Having said that? The restaurant looks great and I have been to their delightful 14th floor bar. A favorite. And it's all just around the corner from where MWA/NY has monthly mystery programs (public- all invited!) at Mid-Manhattan library branch

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Kristopher, just checked out the Nora Roberts B&B -- I call the Nick and Nora room!

Mary Sutton said...

I want to stay in all of them.

My favorite retreat, and one I want to redo next year, was a weekend in Confluence, PA in the Laurel Highlands. The house was snug with a great fireplace, gorgeous locale, and great friends. Hang out, write, talk shop - oh yeah, and eat and drink chocolate wine! It was terrific.

18 days would be heavenly - but I don't think my family would forgive me for leaving that long.

Rhys Bowen said...

If I needed to get lots of writing done quickly I don't think I'd stay somewhere lovely. It would be too tempting to sit, gaze and enjoy.

I'd need to be like Tina Fey in the commercial--stuck in the laundry room. I work well in my car.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

I did stay at the Library Hotel, maybe 5 or more years ago? It was lovely lovely lovely. Each room has a Dewey decimal number... But the rates are so high, we haven't gone back.

Count me in for Nora Roberts' B and B too.

Edith Maxwell said...

Oh, what a dream! I'll volunteer to stay in any of them, any room.

But when you mentioned the Sylvia Hotel I thought immediately of one of my favorite Cheryl Wheeler songs from the same-named album, Sylvia Hotel. Hers is about the hotel in Vancouver, BC, though, and I don't think literature is involved at all. (Watch and listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE8CaKRsGvU)

I have stayed at a wonderful retreat house in western Massachusetts, Wellspring House, where every room is named after a female Massachusetts author. It's quite inexpensive, Susan, because you bring your own food and can use the kitchen. I've gotten major word count accomplished there over several long weekend self-retreats. I stayed in the Wheatley room. (I wrote about it here: http://www.edithmaxwell.com/2012/03/productive-bliss-at-wellspring-house_06.html)

Mark Baker said...

I'm not sure I'd get any sleep. I'd be too busy browsing all the books.

Kristopher said...

Susan, the Nick and Nora room is yours. I would want the Eve and Roarke room. Even though the styling of the room (futuristic) is far from my aesthetic, I just love the In Death books so much and it is Nora Robert's place after all.

Deborah Crombie said...

What fun! I'll fight you over Nick and Nora, Hank:-)

Love the Library Hotel, and Sylvia Beach cottage. But if I was trying to work, I'd be tempted by all the books. I'll take Peter Jackson's guest house anytime, though!

Karen in Ohio said...

All those Facebook memes about "What would you do if you had $5,000 and you could do anything you wanted with it?"

This.

Joan Emerson said...

Kristopher:
Seriously? An Eve and Roarke room? Sounds perfectly heavenly . . . .
Did you read "Festive in Death?" So good . . . .

Kristopher said...

Joan,

Yep, there are pictures on Nora's website:
http://www.innboonsboro.com/guestrooms.php

I am sadly behind on the series, because of the blog reading. I usually use the JD Robb books as "vacation" reading, but the blog has been super busy this year (and now with Bouchercon Prep).

Kristopher said...

We should rent out the entire Inn Boonsboro for a writer's retreat and interview sessions for JRW crew.

That would be too much fun to be productive, however.

Karin Salvalaggio said...

The Library Hotel in NY sounds fabulous but I've always dreamed of spending some time in New Orleans. There's an historic hotel called the Monteleone and it sounds amazing. I've copied and pasted the following from their website -

'The Hotel Monteleone, a history New Orleans hotel, has long been a favorite haunt of distinguished Southern authors. Many of them immortalized the Grand Dame of the French Quarter in their works. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner always made 214 Royal Street their address while in the Crescent City. While in the Carousel Bar & Lounge, Truman Capote used to boast that he was born in the Monteleone. (He wasn’t. Though his mother lived at the historic hotel during her pregnancy, she safely made it to the hospital in time for Truman’s debut.) The list doesn’t stop there; Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose and John Grisham also joined the ranks of literary guests over the years.'

Pat D said...

I can see all these bodies piled into the Nick and Nora room. It'll be like sardines!

Lisa Alber said...

Great idea, Kristopher -- what a blast it would be to rent out the whole B&B!

Like Hallie, I've been to the Sylvia Beach Hotel. I loved it. I need to get back to the east coast so I can try out the Library Hotel and the B&B.

NancyM said...

While trying to plug through a draft, I used to check into a faaaabulous hotel suite here in Pittsburgh for 3 or 4 nights. Room service, no distractions (Well, one weekend my suite neighbor was Bill Cosby, and I could hear him laughing in the hall) except great view. Just me and my laptop. I could come out of that hotel with 60-80 new pages, which was a miracle. Alas, my friend the manager is no longer around to give me the suite for free. So I'm at home heating up Lean Cuisine. Not the same at all. Sigh! The Lipstick blog ladies took a trip to Florida once. Big fun. What do you say, Reds? Organize, and we will come!

Barbara Khan said...

I am a travel agent and have been toying with the idea of literary themed trips. There are tons of great hotels on the theme. For those of you into Lord of the Rings, there is a Hobbit Motel in NZ. Portland is a great place for bookish travel. There's Powell's of course and The Nines Hotel has a deal set up with them to lend books to guests and the Heathman (setting of 50 Shades fame) has it's own lending library. Two not so well-known, yet totally cool places are The Commons in Minneapolis where they have book butlers and I recently booked some clients in Madrid at Hotel De Las Letras. The hotel has a very understated literary theme.

Gigi Pandian said...

My mom has stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, and after hearing her rave about it, I've got it on my list of places I must visit!

Ellen Kozak said...

I'm with Hallie-- home is where I've got the stuff I need, and I live alone (except for the dog and the bird). And no extra charges.

All those books would just be a distraction. The Algonquin was a distraction (and the rooms were minuscule). If I had the money and really wanted to get away, I'd stay at the Chateau Marmont (absolutely enchanting). If it were summer, and I still could, I'd stay at my grandmother's lake cottage.


Kathy Reel said...

A friend and I were talking about doing a getaway to NYC sometime, and I told her that my priority is to stay at the Library Hotel at least one night. I've known a couple of people who have stayed there and loved it. Lucy, how wonderful you've actually stayed there. Kristopher, I'm with you on all the JRW writers and readers getting together in Boonsboro.

My dream hotel would be a mystery hotel, with different mystery and crime authors being the themes for the rooms. Of course, there would have to be an onsite mystery game, too. Oh, how perfect it would be!

stitchkat said...

I think I would like the Elizabeth & Darcy room at Inn Boons Boro

Leslie Budewitz said...

To really write, I borrow a friend's ski area condo in the off-season. Perfect. Just me and the pika.

What about Ellery Adams' new series, the Book Retreat Mysteries? Armchair travel and retreat in one?

And if you want to stay in a hobbit hotel without going all the way to NZ, come to NW Montana! This is a private guest house modeled on The Hobbit, nicknamed the Shire of Montana. http://hobbithouseofmontana.com/

Deb Romano said...

As a reader, I'd love to just work my through all of them, read each book that "lives" there, one vacation at a time, until I'd read everything/stayed at all of them. I wouldn't need to pack any books! Imagine that: ME having lighter luggage!
(As in all my fantasies, I'd have the money to pay for all these vacations!)

Reine said...

I sometimes stay at the Montecito Inn in Santa Barbara. Not too many books there to distract and a very comfortable place to write. The best I have found although the First Hotel Grand in Odense, DK would be my choice while in Europe. In either place you can park yourself in your room and be comfortable without great expense while having access to writing space without a lot of distraction. I don't know if I need a place full of books if I want to write. They usually sing the siren song too loudly.

Reine said...

Okay—so they're not literary hotels—but the Montecito Inn was built by Charlie Chaplin and has literary leanings, and you can see Hans Christian Andersen's boyhood house from the room I always have when I stay in Odense.