July 19, 2018
Literary hotels make for great latter-half-of-summer vacays
by Michael Barron
Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to board in some swanky library suite or bookstore nook. Well, now you kind of can. Literary hotels are beginning to pop up around the world, and this bookish blogger finds himself singing hosannahs to the concept. But so what, you get a book with every booking? No, my friends, not quite. Come, follow me, on my guided tour of such establishments.
We’ve written in the past about Paris’s Pavillon des Lettres hotel, a swank spot that offers books by room service. For the romantic at heart, there’s also the option of a stay at the legendary Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company. While the original Shakespeare and Company, founded by Sylvia Beach, closed during the Second World War, it was revived by George Whitman in 1951. For most of his life, Whitman housed various intellectuals and artists in the bedrooms above the bookstore, a tradition that has become the Tumbleweed program. As the store’s site notes: “In exchange [for a roof over your head], Tumbleweeds (as guests came to be called) were asked only to ‘read a book a day,’ help out in the shop for a couple of hours, and write a single-page autobiography for George’s archives. Today, the bookshop has housed an estimated 30,000 Tumbleweeds, our shelves are crammed with autobiographies and stories of romances played out beneath the beams, and—most importantly—we have no intention of closing our doors.” Cool.
While Shakespeare and Company may benefit travelers to Paris, in Toyko, there is another option. Book and Bed Tokyo, according to Bored Panda’s Pauline Tikunova, is “a bookstore-themed hotel located on the seventh floor of a high-rise in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood.” Imagine a cross between a bookstore and multi-bed hostel and there you have the concept in a nutshell. But for the price per evening ($32 to $50) who wouldn’t want to bunk inside of a saw wood bookshelf filled with new Japanese and English language books? Since the hotel opened two years ago, the hotel has expanded to a handful of locations and perks.
For those who want full throttle on the bibliophilia, there’s the Literary Man Hotel located in the medieval Portuguese town of Obidos, just over an hour’s drive north of Lisbon. As The Mirror’s Julie Delahaye observes , “The Literary Man Hotel has everything you could possibly want for a dreamy bookish getaway. We’re talking over 50,000 books on offer, its very own library, cosy reading nooks everywhere and even a dedicated gin bar with themed cocktails.” Delahaye also notes that hotel has nearly thirty bedrooms, from “standard double rooms to cosy suites with balconies.” And she adds: “The best part is you won’t need to break the bank if you’re tempted by a stay, with rooms starting from £64 a night.”
Ok, so finally, let’s talk about that swanky library suite, because The Library on Thailand’s Koh Samui island is probably the most luxurious literary retreat in the game. I mean, just look at the photos! As their site puts it: “Against the seductive backdrop of Koh Samui’s Chaweng Beach, The Library reads like an elegant monograph — a beachfront hotel that invites one to sit with a book in quiet contemplation while also weaving its own story of natural beauty and unmatched luxury. With just 46 studios, suites and pool villas spread over 12,800 square meters of land, this minimalist resort provides ample space to read, roam, and reflect.” If units like the Bookmark, the Writer, and the Editor (which has a freakin’ tree growing in the middle of it) don’t ink your pen, you might want to look into their discounted extended-stay program for writers looking to work on their books. We’ve heard of beach libraries, but this is next-level.
And more continue to pop up. InterContinental Hotels has just teamed up with Audible to curate an audio book collection for its guests. Subliminal reading may just be the future.
Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.