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The minute I yanked my suitcase behind me off the busy New York City sidewalk and through the golden doors that portaled me into the boutique Library Hotel, my shoulders relaxed. I felt the cozy comfort that only comes from walking into a room filled with floor to ceiling bookcases and card catalogs. I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy the next four nights here.
Dewey Decimal Themed Rooms
The Library Hotel has 10 floors of guest rooms and each floor corresponds to one of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal System. Each room on each particular floor is themed for one of the subcategories, meaning the books that fill each room fall under the room’s particular Dewey code. When I booked my room online I had given my top 3 choices of categories/topics, so I was excited to find out where in the library I’d be staying. This is embarrassing to admit, being a librarian, but as my undergrad library used the Library of Congress classification system, as did the library where I worked after my masters program, I had happily let my knowledge of the Dewey Decimal system recede into the far reaches of my brain. Thus when I received my room number, 900.005, I tried to prod any memories of Dewey to the surface, but did not manage to remember anything before arriving at the door of room 5 on the 9th floor. 900 is History, and .005, I was delighted to find, is Geography and Travel. I couldn’t wait to check out the selection of books inside!
Normally when I stay in a hotel room the only book, if one is provided, is a copy of the Bible tucked in the bedside table drawer. This room had a bookshelf built into the wall by the bed! And it was full of non-religious novels! And more books filled shelves and cabinets on other walls! I found a Dickens novel and Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar. I pulled these onto the bed and kept scanning the shelves. Maybe I could keep it to just one chapter each before bed?
Before I got lost in a book, however, it was just about dinner time. As much as I actually enjoyed the group style dinners and book discussions with strangers at the Sylvia Beach hotel, this time due to Covid, I was happy to satisfy my introvert self with room-service dinner. I ordered dinner off the menu of Madison and Vine, the hotel’s downstairs restaurant, and then picked up a book while I waited for food to arrive. I felt extravagant ordering room service! What better way to spend vacation than in bed with dinner and a book?
Of course I couldn’t spend my days in New York with my nose in a book, as there was WAY too much I wanted to see and do in the city! I had tickets to the Harry Potter store VR Experiences, I wanted to walk Central Park’s Literary Walk, and I was going to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s house in the Bronx. Luckily the Library Hotel is just around the block from Grand Central Station and with the help of the Citymapper App, getting around the city by subway was a piece of cake!
Central Park literary statues:
- Robert Burns
- Sir Walter Scott
- Mother Goose
- Hans Christian Anderson
- Alice in Wonderland
- Romeo & Juliet
- Mary & Dickon (The Secret Garden)
The hotel is also within five minutes walking distance from both the Morgan Library and the New York Public Library, but as I’d visited these on previous trips, they weren’t on my itinerary this time. I also was a little sad I didn’t have time to revisit the MET this time, but I’d already scoped out the bed I’d have stayed in if I were Claudia and Jamie on a previous NYC visit, so that was out this time too. But if you are in the area and haven’t been before, don’t miss visiting the original Pooh Bear and friends at the NYPL, or the Morgan!
The Bookmarks Lounge
Turns out when you visit New York City during a heat wave, you return each evening to your hotel feeling tired and sweaty and positively ready to shower and collapse and never leave your room. Except if you’re staying at the Library Hotel! The 14th floor has a rooftop Poetry Garden with a view of the NYPL, the Writers Den and greenhouse, and comfy couches. While a lovely quiet space for reading and working during the day, at cocktail hour (4pm) each evening the bar opens and the entire floor transforms into the Bookmarks Lounge which serves specialty cocktails with fun literary pun names, such as Tequila Mockingbird and Gone with the Gin. This was the only encouragement I needed to spruce myself up each evening and head upstairs for drinks. If it hadn’t been for Covid I might have enjoyed meeting the other bookworms staying in the hotel, but as it was, we all politely kept our distance.
The Reading Room
Being a natural night owl, I enjoy using the quiet hours before bed to catch up on work, so each evening I’d take my laptop down to the 2nd floor to do a little work in the Reading Room. This was my favorite part of the hotel! This room is part library, part 24/7 snack bar. Tall bookshelves lined the room interspersed by cushioned bench seats between them. The rest of the room contained tables for working or eating, an alcove with coffee, tea, sodas, and snacks, and at the far end of the room sat a piano. It reminded me of a cafe without the background chatter and noise. The warm yellow and brown colors of the room gave it a cosy feeling. And to this small-town girl, the bookcases surrounding the room felt like something familiar in the middle of a city where I generally feel very far from home.
There were usually very few, if any others, in the Reading Room in the evening. I’d make myself a mug of chamomile tea, seat myself at a bench seat with a table, and work until bedtime. One evening, while ensconced in a corner, a staff member came to check on the drinks and snacks and kindly offered an unsolicited glass of wine and when asked, divulged advice about the best breakfast locations in the neighborhood!
If I’m being honest, I thought I’d enjoy this hotel simply because of it’s themed rooms, and figured I’d want to return again to stay in more of the rooms. Someday I’d love to stay in the Love Room- the only one with a terrace! What I didn’t expect was how friendly and welcoming all the staff were! Every time I returned to the hotel after a day out, the staff at the front desk greeted me by name and asked how our day was.The staff at the Bookmarks Lounge were attentive and kindly offered to help take photos as well as serve drinks. And one time a staff member came over to ask if I was wearing a Harry Potter tshirt and divulged they’d just been chatting about Harry Potter. I’d found my people! I’ll definitely be making this my go-to place to stay in NYC in the future. This really was one of the best boutique hotels I have ever stayed at.
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*Thank you to The Library Hotel for hosting my stay! Despite receiving a discount and room upgrade, all opinions are my own.
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Have you stayed at the Library Hotel? Do you want to? Have you stayed anywhere that was entirely themed around books?
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