The Library Hotel: Literary Luxury in New York City

The Library Hotel, NYC
The Library Hotel, NYC

By Amanda Festa

Hotels belong to no one and everyone. They are temporary resting places, providing transient comfort when we are away from home. A hotel doesn’t know where you’re from or where you’ve been; you bring your stories with you, and you take them with you when you leave.

There is something quietly literary about hotels. Each room has a narrative, has held the secrets of travelers within its walls. In this way, each hotel is a library, reverently housing these stories, these secrets, always making room for more.

Maybe that is the fascination with “literary” hotels. From Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans to Hotel Elysée in New York City, we seek out the places where literary greats spent their nights, drawing inspiration from the rooms that once held them, from stories of their stays and anecdotes of the time they spent in these spaces – a unique mix of the public and the private. For the Library Hotel in New York City, this connection is amplified. If every hotel is a library, this Madison Avenue hotel is the pinnacle of literary lodgings.

The Library Hotel is different from the typical literary hotel. While contemporary authors have stayed there (and left their books for the hotel’s impressive collection), it is not marked by the memory of a handful of infamous guests. The Library Hotel beckons you to write your own story. It gives you the tools and the inspiration, and the blank pages are yours to fill.

Dewey Decimal System
Dewey Decimal system adds charm to the decor

The boutique hotel located fittingly on Library Way is certainly one of a kind. It takes its bibliophilic design seriously and the results are tasteful, gorgeous and indicative of the brand’s comfortable, well-read luxury. In a digital age, most old-fashioned readers have a special place in their heart for the Dewey Decimal system, but the Library Hotel utilizes it to produce a clever design schematic that makes choosing a favorite room as difficult as choosing a favorite book.

Each of the ten guest floors is presented as a category of the DDC, with each room on a particular floor being designed around a genre found in that category. The eighth floor is dedicated to “Literature,” with rooms designated for everything from Classic Fiction (800.002) to Fairy Tales (800.05). Staying on theme, each gorgeous, well-appointed guest room boasts a wide selection of books in that genre.

During our stay, LT’s Jessica and I were thrilled to stay in the room dedicated to Mystery (800.006). One of the hotel’s junior suites, the room was spacious and comfortable, with a sitting area that overlooked the New York Public Library. The collection of mysteries in the room was vast, from old, well-worn classics to new bestsellers. I was excited to kick my feet up in a pair of the hotel’s complimentary slippers while I spent some time with one of my favorite detectives, Sherlock Holmes.

View of the New York Public Library from the Mystery Room
View of the New York Public Library from the Mystery Room

But the books in each room only scrape the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Library Hotel’s collection. The hotel houses approximately 6,000 books, many of which come from NYC’s Strand bookstore, and others are donated by guests, including authors themselves. Books can also be found throughout the hotel’s common areas, including large bookcases in the lobby. But what sets the Library Hotel apart is not solely its vast collection, but its friendly warmth, made tangible by the incredibly helpful and generous staff. Although some of the editions are quite old, guests are welcome to take books from the shelves back to their rooms, and the hotel has even been known to let a guest take an unfinished book home on the condition that they mail it back when they are done.

Book with beautiful inscription from 1899
Book with beautiful inscription from 1899

We had the opportunity to chat with some of the exceptional concierge, known endearingly as “The Librarians,” and their enthusiasm for their job and the hotel was contagious. One of the staff members on hand during our stay shared an anecdote about a particular title, excitedly pulled down from a shelf near the front desk. The book was clearly old and weathered, and when opened a faded inscription was visible, dated September 9, 1899. As the story goes, one of the staff happened to open the book to find the inscription on September 9, 2009 – a coincidence that is indicative of the beautiful merging of past and present that takes place daily at the Library Hotel.

After all, the books bring with them their history and memories as books tend to do, and yet the Library is so thoroughly modern that the juxtaposition is a gorgeous mix of old school character and elegant contemporary flair. Deep chairs, dark wood, warm, cozy corners, updated for the 21st century luxury traveler with unmatched amenities and attentive service.

Rooftop bar at Bookmarks Lounge
Rooftop terrace at Bookmarks Lounge

The second floor Reading Room is open 24 hours a day, offering an extensive continental breakfast in the morning and wine and cheese reception in the evening. The fourteenth floor features a Writer’s Den, complete with fireplace, along with a Poetry Garden. At night, sip signature cocktails such as the Great Gatsby or the Capote at the hotel’s popular Bookmarks Lounge, where you can sit in deep leather chairs by the fire or take in views of the city from the stunning rooftop terrace.

If you are considering a weekend in New York, the Library Hotel is the perfect backdrop for a relaxing city getaway. With so many gorgeous outdoor spaces, you can enjoy a warm, relaxing summer night amid the bustle of the city. It is true that New York contains no shortage of things to do, it is the city that never sleeps, after all. But during our stay at the Library Hotel, we found ourselves not wanting to leave, pulled into the hotel’s literary allure like the pages of a good book.

See more pictures from our trip or make a reservation for your own stay at the Library Hotel.

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