Charm and Intrigue Create a Compelling Story at NYC’s The Library Hotel
Oh my, it might be wise to book an extended stay here in Midtown Manhattan.
For starters, the hotel had me in the lobby, where hundreds and hundreds of reads are stacked handsomely onto wonderfully tall rows of bookshelves. Faulkner, Whitman, and Dickenson cavort with the likes Michener, Bentley, and Blake.
It’s juicy food for the mind. It’s a throwback. It’s so damn refreshing.
Here’s why: In a day and age when 140 digital characters and social media posts seem to be more revered than, say (do I dare say it?), an actual book, the Library Hotel stands out for its charm, inventiveness, and inspiration. Themed hotels might be big things now, but this one pulls out all the stops. Creative, yes. But really, it’s just downright pleasant to experience something that has so much imagination under one roof.
I had spent several days in New York and was happy to delve into the Library. My sixth-floor room was a gem—dreamy, clean, spacious, and overlooking 41st Street, near Madison Avenue. (And really, while it was nice to have access to a flat-screen television, who needs it when a book of poetry or a novel is lying nearby? Books, of course, are provided in all rooms.) I also got a kick out of the placards near the doors of all the rooms, which hearken back to the Dewey Decimal System. In fact, I soon discovered each of the 10 guestroom floors honor one of the 10 categories of that system. Additionally, each of the 60 rooms boast a collection of art and books that delve into a topic within the category it belongs to: Social Sciences, Literature, Languages, History, Math and Science, General Knowledge, Technology, Philosophy, the Arts, and Religion.
Somebody gave this place some thought.
After settling in around the noon hour, I was ready to explore more. Off to the second floor I went, where I located the revered Reading Room, which is available to guests 24 hours a day. (Take note of views of Madison Avenue and Library Way here.) The spacious room houses hundreds of books as well so take your time here and revel in it. You’ll find some classics and some recently published works, too. To help you settle in, there’s a nice selection of complimentary teas, coffee, cappuccino, espresso, treats, and plenty of fruits on hand as well. Complimentary Wi-Fi and an inviting wine time with various cheeses is a nice touch later in the afternoon and early evening.
I mentioned Library Way. It’s a stellar creative achievement to use New York’s surrounding posse of eye candy and theme a hotel around it—in this case, the New York Public Library. So it was with great pleasure and surprise I found Library Way along 41st Street (also known as the Library Walk). Every ten steps or so, you will find a bronze plaque on the sidewalk—created by sculptor Gregg LeFevre—each one sporting a famous quote.
I strolled over Tom Stoppard: “Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light.”
Virginia Woolf caught my attention, too: “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
A few blocks later and you’re right at the steps of the library (plenty to see in there, so dive in). Consider walking the Library Way at dusk—there’s something about the street lighting and shade of the sky that captures the bronze plates so wonderfully. Besides, you’ll download some of the finest wisdom around.
There is so much to do in New York City I could fill these pages for hours, so I won’t ramble on much about must-sees, but indulge me here in a few.
Broadway lovers take note: The Library Hotel is walking distance from all of the main theaters—just a 10-to-15 minute stroll. You must consider “Kinky Boots” (read my interview with Cyndi Lauper here), “Pippin,” “Matilda,” “Once,” “First Date,” and the curious arrival of “Big Fish,” which is trying to make a big splash.
Back at the hotel, Madison & Vine should be your ticket for memorable meal. The restaurant, which is adjacent to the hotel’s main entrance and accessible from the lobby, is often festive during the evening hours, attracting creative souls and curious travelers near and far. The wine list is particularly impressive. The portal serves lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch (not exceptionally pricey, either) and is considered “casual elegant” dining.
But do take note of the Library Hotel’s Bookmarks Lounge on the 14th floor. You can find the Writer’s Den here and a Poetry Garden. The terrace morphs into the lounge/rooftop bar later in the day, and the drink list is creative with its literary-inspired cocktails. It’s hard not to enjoy the striking city views up here. There’s something about just gazing out into the city—especially during the evening hours—taking in the sounds (the taxis, laughter from the street below) and just letting go that is unbeatable. Try to avoid bringing your smart phone or tablet here and just relish the experience. If you’re in need of something, pick up a book—or engage in real conversation with those around you. This spot works well for that.
Other perks: It’s not a bad boutique portal for a wedding, high above the streets. Complimentary continental breakfast wins points for going beyond the standard offerings. The location rocks—it’s walking distance to shopping along 5th Avenue, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center (had a super lunch there!), Times Square (always eclectic!), and other famous sights. Best bets: Memorable customer service and comfortable accommodations. The beds have that Goldilocks “just right” feel.
With so many travel options to choose from in big cities, it’s nice to see the Library Hotel strives to not only make one feel comfortable but also stimulate one’s mind. You simply cannot walk out of this place bored. (Also consider sister hotels: Hotel Elysée and Hotel Giraffe.) The Library Hotel is the best place to be this fall.
Oh, and take note, the grand total of books here: More than 6,000.
Explore at will.
Amenities and other 411
299 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
Centrally located on Madison Avenue at 41st Street, near Grand Central Terminal and the B-D-F-V-M-4-5-6-7-S Subway lines. The hotel’s entrance is located on 41st Street just east of Madison Avenue.
Check-in time is 3 p.m.; check out is at 1 p.m.
Rates: From $264
Parking: Discounted rates at ICON Parking garage located on 39th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Rates are $30 to $40 per 24 hours, based on the car size.
Phone: (212) 983-4500
Email: reservations @ libraryhotel.com (remove the spaces)