A hotel room stay can be the jump off point for many different kinds of inspiration. As travelers, we have different expectations of our temporary homes-away-from-home. While some of us prefer to seek out company while we travel, others actively seek out the solitude a hotel stay can afford them. Writers have long revered the comfort of a hotel stay and the positive impact it can have on their creativity. Characters are born over drinks at the hotel bar, a stage is set in the hotel lobby.
We’ve rounded up our favorite list of hotels for book lovers, with the majority of which having greatly impacted the careers of the authors to which they are linked. These hotels offer more than just some decoration inspiration; they bring literary history to life.
The Algonquin Hotel
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
The Algonquin Hotel, today part of the Autograph Collection of Hotels, has made some deep marks on literary history. This designated National Literary landmark as well as a New York City Historic Landmark once hosted the Algonquin Round Table, a daily luncheon for talented writers who affectionately referred to themselves as the Vicious Circle. Comprising of a highly esteemed group of writers, they started meeting post-WWI to exchange ideas and opinions which effectively influenced most emerging literary styles of their time, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The New Yorker magazine was also founded at the hotel with money Harold Ross won in a poker game–thanks to his luck, you can still receive a free copy at the hotel today. Hotel guests can request to eat at the original Round Table for an opportunity to talk words over a meal at one of NYC’s favorite dining destinations.
The Betsy takes their literary homage seriously; the Writer’s Room at the Betsy is a studio, opened in 2012, where more than 200 writers and creators have stayed to put their pen to the page. Born out of a PACE (philanthropy, arts, culture and education) business model, the boutique hotel also has a small library of books in each room, and turndown service includes a bookmark inscribed with a poem.
Hotel owner, Jonathan Plutzik is son of three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Poet Hyam Plutzik who was inspired by his father’s career to make more than just a boutique hotel. The luxury hotel is dedicated to not only offering a stunning sojourn home to visitors, but also acting as a space dedicated to furthering Miami’s cultural programming.
The Plaza Hotel
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
The Plaza Hotel has an opulent literary history: most importantly, it has been home to a character adored for decades by besotted young girls. Since the publication of Kay Thompson’s book, Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-ups in 1955, the hotel has been charged with the fame of her precocious literary character Eloise. They answered her phone calls, attempted to recover her stolen portrait in 1960 and finally, in 2010 allowed Eloise’s kindred spirit, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, to design a custom Eloise suite on the 18th floor, decorated in pink and black.
Their literary accolades don’t end there, however–F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby had characters Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker chatting in the tea-garden at the Plaza, as well as setting the scene for an argument between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. In fact, Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda frequented the hotel in real life, inspiring the redecoration of a suite, specially designed by Catherine Martin, co-producer of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby to honor the author and his wife.
The Strater Hotel
There is nothing like a little Honky-Tonk inspiration to get those creative juices rolling. The Strater Hotel used to do just that for Western writer Louis L’Amour, who always requested Room 222 above the Diamond Belle Saloon to get him in the writing mood. The melodic sounds of the music playing from the Saloon helped him set the scene for many of his iconic Western novels.
A large chunk of his Sackett novels were actually written at the hotel and today his favorite room bears his namesake. The room is actually a designated Literary Landmark for its important role in the development a pivotal American literary figure.
The Library Hotel
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Ever wanted to sleep in a library? Let us make the necessary introductions: the Library Hotel in New York was inspired by the ingenious Dewey Decimal classification system, invented in the USA in 1876. All ten floors are classified by category of books and each room has a unique collection of books pertaining to its classification. You could easily be sleeping in 400.002 Romance Language for the night–or maybe 1200.002 African Religion is more your jam.
Either way, there are over 6,000 books, all of which are hard cover and sourced from the Strand Bookstore, the oldest running bookstore in Manhattan. It would be tempting to wish for rain when you visit so you can fully indulge in cozy reading marathons everywhere from the Poetry Garden to the Reading Room or your own bed. This is a dream hotel for book lovers, with famous literary visitors including Amy Tan and John Grisham.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
One of the rare long-standing -family owned hotels, the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans has been an absolute haven for many iconic Southern writers. This property has made appearances in books by Tennessee Williams (The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending), Rebecca Wells (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), Stephen Ambrose (Band of Brothers) and Ernest Hemingway (The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway), the hotel has also hosted many of these famous voices. Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner have all been welcomed here and Truman Capote once astoundingly claimed he was actually born in the Hotel Monteleone although it truthfully his mother did stay there during her pregnancy.
Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose, and John Grisham have also stayed at the hotel. The hotel has been an incubator of writing action and many suites are named after their famous guests and the Hotel Monteleone remains as alluring today as yesterday.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
The Hotel Elysee in New York is a true literary landmark with a couple of stories up its sleeve. Allegedly in 1983, a guest called the front desk to complain about their neighbor who had been up all night typing–and the noise was driving the guest crazy. The typist was none other than Tennessee Williams, who lived in the hotel’s Sunset Suite until his death in 1983. The great American writer wrote his final plays and memoirs from his hotel abode.
Today, you can stay in the suite which bears his name alongside all the modern amenities of today, plus heaps of books containing his works and other memorabilia. The hotel is also home to the Presidential Suite honoring Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, acclaimed writer and philosopher and former Hotel Elysee patron.
Omni Parker House Boston
As the oldest continuing operating hotel in the United States, the Omni Parker House Boston has a long and proud tradition of assembling intellectuals on its premises. Many contributors to America’s Golden Age of Literary including Longfellow, Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne convived at the hotel, known as the fabled Saturday Club. Charles Dickens thought it was good enough to write home about in an 1867 letter home, “I dine today with Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, and Agassiz. Longfellow was here yesterday. Perfectly white in hair and beard, but a remarkably handsome and notable-looking man.” Passionate discussion raged over gin punches.
Dickens actually lived at the hotel during his lecture tour where his hotel room door was guarded from over-zealous fans. Today equally zealous fans can admire their own reflection, much like Dickens, in the mirror where he used to practice his lectures.
Hotel Del Coronado
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
The Wonderful World of the Hotel Del Coronado played an integral role in the writing of a particularly wonderful American book by L. Frank Baum. The author based his vision of the Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on the storied hotel and wrote a large chunk of the book here. He did much of his writing at the hotel, and is said to have based his design for the Emerald City on it. The Crown Room still bears four stunning crown shaped chandeliers that were designed by Baum, giving you a taste of Oz at the hotel.
Stephen King was also inspired for his short story 1408 after hearing about a parapsychologists investigation of one of the hotel’s more haunted rooms. Finally, the hotel was also the setting for Ambrose Bierce’s short story, An Heiress From Redhorse. Pick up copies of all three and set yourself down at the Coronado for a book lover holiday.
The Heathman Hotel
The Heathman Hotel rocketed to attention thanks to a particularly steamy scene set in their elevator in a book devoured by millions. While 50 Shades of Grey might have brought their name to the forefront of literary hotels, the hotel also has an incredibly impressive library of over 4,000 volumes, all signed by authors and many of them rare first editions. In order to submit a book to the library, the author must spend a night.
Your stay at the Heathman echoes that of authors like Bill Clinton, Stephen King and Annie Dillard, all of whom have left their books behind. Guests can borrow the books with a deposit and the hotel actually staffs a librarian who can help you make a selection if you’re stumped for what to read next.
Cover image courtesy of Jessica Ruscello, Unsplash