When I travel, I always bring more books than I'll could possibly read because there's nothing as enjoyable as being in a strange place with a captivating novel. I enjoy reading in bars with a glass of red wine, and in hotel rooms far from home — not to mention reading on trains or boats as the world zips by.
Clearly, I'm not the only one who associates travel with reading. There are literary-themed accommodations, restaurants and hotels the world over, but here's a list of places that caught my eye. These places are clearly book-friendly — but that probably won't keep me from packing extras.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel on the Oregon coast is a large, rambling house, with each bedroom decorated with a well-known author in mind. There are "Classics" like Agatha Christie, Colette and Mark Twain; "Best Sellers" like Amy Tan, Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling; and "Novels" like Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde. Perusing the images on the hotel's site, you'll notice the attention to detail in each room. The decorators are more than just passingly familiar with the celebrated author's works — these spaces celebrate the authors they are dedicated to.
As you might expect from the city that's the center of publishing in the United States, New York boasts three library-themed venues in which to enjoy libations. The Library Bar at the NoMad Hotel offers high-style with old-school bookish charm: "Guests can lounge on custom-made furnishings and enjoy light fare and finger foods, which are served alongside coffee, tea, wine, and cocktails. An eclectic literary collection is available, featuring extensive volumes on such wide-ranging topics as the history of New York, music, and cocktails and spirits." But time your visit well if you want to pop in; the bar is open only to hotel guests after 4 p.m.
The Battery Park Book Exchange's motto is "Trading books by the thousands and wine by the glass" — and that includes champagne in this Asheville haunt. "Our store offers you the marriage of two of Earth’s finest pleasures, books and wine, side by side. Or should we say page by glass?" This is the kind of bar where you really can curl up in with a good book and a nice glass of red.
The bright blue detail echoes the Disney movie 'Alice in Wonderland,' while the multiple hand mirrors on the wall remind visitors of the era in which the book was written. (Photo: The Wonderland House)
The Wonderland House in Brighton, England, has allegiance to only one book, and that is, as you may have guessed from the picture above, "Alice in Wonderland." Bedrooms include fun and creative decor, with themes like Flamingo Dreams, The Queen of Hearts, The Mirror Mirror room, Alice's Bedroom, The Tweedles room, and The Curious and Curioser Bedroom. And of course, the Mad Hatter's Dining Room for tea!
Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco is a speakeasy-style bar, which means you need to know the password to get in, a reminder of its Prohibition roots. It has a real connection to this time period: "In 1923, an industrious young man by the name of John J. Russell purchased the business as a 'going concern' with its solid base of customers. With his connections to the most notorious bootleggers from Vancouver, BC., he operated his bar under the guise of 'JJ Russell's Cigar Shop.' He did not sell many cigars." In addition to a main bar space (where you'll need reservations), there's a less formal library, where you can drop by if you know the password, which is mentioned on the bar's website.
The Library Hotel in New York City is a celebration of books, libraries and the Dewey Decimal System. Each of the 10 floors has a different theme (honoring the 10 categories of the Dewey system) and the rooms contain books and art that emphasize the floor's topic. So, for example, the ninth floor is all about history, with one room focused on Asian history while another is focused on 20th century history. On the religion floor, there's a new age room and another on ancient religions. There's also a writer's den and poetry garden on the rooftop, as well as a reading room.
The Fable is a bar and restaurant in London that's "Inspired by the fantasy world of fairy tales, the fabulous fables of Aesop & influences from around the globe..." While this venue isn't super serious about its bookish background, it's a place where any bibliophile would definitely feel at home.
The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis boasts not just a beautiful, cozy library (love that circular fireplace!) with plenty of classics and best sellers, but they also have a "book butler" who will bring titles to your room — so you can order breakfast (and books) in bed.
The Library at the Warwick Hotel in Dallas is a one of the city's most iconic bars. It's not just a place to peruse books and sip cocktails; there's also a piano so you can enjoy music while you sip, chat or dive into a book.