The Big Six: Literary hideaways
From a Dewey Decimal hotel and a replica of Windsor Castle's library in India to Dylan Thomas's former drinking den
Saturday 18 January 2014
The Library Hotel, New York
This Madison Avenue address is themed on the Dewey Decimal System – the library numbering method that was devised by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Each of the 10 floors honours one of the categories of the system – from literature and languages to social science and religion – with the 60 rooms bearing a collection of books that relate to their floor's given topic. On the second level, there's also a 24-hour Reading Room with hundreds of tomes, while on the 14th floor there's a fire-warmed Writer's Den for sipping cocktails in winter months and the Poetry Garden rooftop bar for sizing up the city skyline in summertime.
The Library Hotel, 299 Madison Avenue, New York, US (001 212 983 4500; libraryhotel.com). Doubles from $445 (£297), B&B.
Last year, this former public library became a five-star hotel. Located on the Prince's Canal, it has interiors by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with lots of over-sized and miniature objects scattered throughout. There's also a speakeasy-style Bluespoon Bar, farm-to-table restaurant and 122 rooms within easy reach of the city's arty Jordaan enclave. Perks include a free minibar and Dutch bicycles for whizzing around the city's cobbled streets.
Andaz, Prinsengracht 587, Amsterdam, Netherlands (00 31 20 523 1234 bit.ly/Andaz Library). Doubles from €370, room only.
Sonya Hotel, St Petersburg
This hotel on the banks of the River Neva takes its inspiration from Crime and Punishment by Russian polemicist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The 1866 book is set in the city and centres on the dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student who formulates a plan to kill a pawnbroker for her money. Some rooms display prints of the Sistine Madonna by Italian oil painter Raphael, which is referenced in the novel, while grander suites have passages printed on the carpets and quotes hanging from the doors.
Sonya Hotel, 5/19 Liteyny Prospekt, St Petersburg, Russia (00 7 812 406 0007; radisson.ru). Doubles from €81, B&B.
Pavillon des Lettres, Paris
This literary-themed hotel in the French capital has 26 rooms – one for each letter of the alphabet – that honour different authors, from Baudelaire and Goethe to Ibsen and Yeats. The tone throughout is refined and unfussy, with the featured writer's words printed across walls and modern-day amenities, such as in-room iPads, that add a contemporary feel. Downstairs, hardback books line the walls of shared spaces, while the art galleries and luxury shops of the 8th arrondissement await outside.
Pavillon des Lettres, 12 Rue des Saussaies, Paris, France (00 33 1 49 24 26 26; pavillondes lettres.com). Doubles from €220, room only.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
During the 19th century, this opulent palace was once home to the nizams (rulers) of Hyderabad. After the Partition of India in 1947, the nizams were ousted and the building gradually fell into disrepair. Eventually, it was renovated as part of a 10-year, $25m project by Taj Hotels, with many of the nizams' vast collection of art and books, restored to their rightful place. Today, it holds a replica of Windsor Castle's library, with 6,000 books, including rare first editions.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, India (00 91 40 6629 8585; tajhotels.com). Doubles from Rs36,000 (£355), B&B.
Browns Hotel, Laugharne
A century on from the birth of Dylan Thomas and his former drinking den is still alive and well. As the anniversary of the author's birth is celebrated across Wales this year, check in to the place which the notorious inebriate used as his watering hole over the last four years of his life, when he lived in Laugharne. Describing itself as a "bar with rooms", it maintains the convivial atmosphere of Dylan's day downstairs, with 14 recently refurbished guestrooms above that dovetail period features with retro-style furnishings.
Browns Hotel, King Street, Laugharne, Wales (01994 427 688; browns-hotel.co.uk). Doubles from £95, B&B.
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