A bookworm in the Big Apple: Checking In
A romantic literary holiday is just what Dearest and I were looking for for our anniversary. As a child, I had fantasies of spending a night locked in the public library with nothing but a pillow and a flashlight. As a bibliophile yourself, you have probably entertained that idea also. You get why I wanted to stay at the Library Hotel
for our anniversary trip. Like you, I read about the Library Hotel in blog posts and reviews. I couldn’t resist the literary concept or the delightful location in the heart of mid-town Manhattan.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Library Hotel is a smaller, boutique Hotel on the corner of Madison Ave. and East 41st Street on Library Way, just one block from the New York Public Library. Instead of the usual numerical organizational system of floors and rooms, the Library Hotel uses the Dewey Decimal system. For example, Instead of room 901 on the 9th floor, Our room was in the “Fine Arts” section (900s) and our room was assigned the Dewey decimal number, 900.01 which is where libraries shelve books on Architecture. The art in our room featured dramatic photography of bridges and building details. The shelves were stocked with books on building practices, drafting, architectural achievements and park design.
We splurged for a Deluxe Queen room. The room itself was a little on the small side but not at all uncomfortable. I’m told space is a luxury in New York and the Library Hotel rooms make the most of small spaces. The writing desk made up for being shallow by extending the length of the wall. The obligatory tray with ice bucket and glasses took up more than it’s share of real estate but once I moved it to the accent table the desk space was ample.
Dearest and I are used to navigating around one another when we travel and even though the room was small, it was so well planned we were never in each other’s way. The bathroom sported a shower and a full size tub for which I was very grateful. New York streets are brutal on pedestrians. A long hot soak is just what you want from a New York hotel room at the end of an active day. The room was delightful, but there were so many other touches that made our stay special. Let’s talk about the reading room.
The reading room housed a lovely library, comfortable reading nooks and tables. There was also a baby grand piano and sheet music available. Every morning, Library Hotel staff attended their guests at an open continental breakfast. Attentive hostesses were gracious and accommodating. I’ve been to places where “hostesses” were really just overseers (there to police the guests and guard amenities or discourage abuse and waste). Here it was very different. The role of the hostess was genuinely to insure our needs were met. They were thoughtful and delightful!
Later, in the afternoon and evening, the reading room offered a wine reception. with fruit, cheeses, and crudités. Again, the hostesses kept plates and glasses full, answered questions and graciously listened (with enthusiasm) to anyone who wanted to talk about their adventures or plans.
Then, at night, bed-time snacks were on offer. cookies, small cakes, cocoa, tea and milk. Any time of day you could find coffee tea and chilled infused water and often small snacks there. Everything in the reading room is complimentary and open to all guests of the hotel.
If your muse demands stronger fuel, the Library Hotel also has a quiet bar with an indoor/outdoor design. A solarium opens to a romantic rooftop poetry garden and deeper inside is the writer’s den, a cozy interior room. In Ohio, I take fresh air and patio gardens for granted, but The Library Hotel takes great pride in their little garden oasis above the din of the city.
The specialty drinks were a lot of fun. Even if you don’t drink, you’ll want to go just to read the imaginitive menu. Dearest indulged in a “Tequila Mockingbird” while I enjoyed a refreshing “Marlowe’s Mule”.
The concierge service was a gem! We arrived later than expected and were afraid we wouldn’t make it to The Algonquin Round Table in time to keep our reservation so they called on our behalf and coordinated the necessary adjustments for us while we took our time freshening up and changing clothes. They seemed to have any logistical information we needed at their fingertips whenever we asked and could make reservations, secure tickets, get a cab, or book a tour in response to the whim of any guest. Maybe this kind if thing is normal in New York, but I had never experienced such personalized and attentive service.
Most importantly, it was quiet. Walt Whitman was certainly speaking for the ages when he wrote about the noise of the city. The constant cacophony of people, trains, cars, and advertisements is overwhelming. New York is an endless, stressful storm of dissonant sound (my words, not Whitman’s). But the moment you walk into the Library Hotel, the noise dampens. You realize you can hear and be heard without raising your voice. At that moment you realize you have been shouting all day. The Library Hotel is a peaceful, mindful island in the noisy chaos of humanity where you can finally hear yourself think. Just like in a library, it’s okay to keep to yourself here but if you do socialize, you can be confident you are among your tribe of thoughtful literaries.
Read ~ Write ~ Wander
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