We are so honored to be Writers in Residence at the Library Hotel. As always, all opinions are our own.
When we write the accounts of our escapades around the globe, we usually don’t bother mentioning where we stay.
It’s not that we don’t appreciate hotels, it’s just that, let’s face it, most are simply a place to lay our heads after romping around all day. What can we say? “The towels were nice and the TV worked.” Not exactly a captivating story.
But sometimes the accommodations are the story, and such is the case with the Library Hotel in New York City.
In a city with hundreds, if not thousands, of hotels it is hard to stand out, yet the Library Hotel has done just that. So when we were invited to become Writers in Residence, we jumped at the chance.
The idea is to add to the incredible literary ambience of the hotel by having a few writers hanging around, and let us say, it’s a writer’s -- or a reader’s -- paradise.
<-- 25 feet wide, 100 feet long, and 14 stories high, the hotel is one of NYC's first sliver buildings
A big part of the atmosphere of the hotel stems from its proximity to the New York Public Library’s main branch.
Around the same time as that massive home to over one million volumes was opened in 1911, a group of businessmen were building one of the city’s first sliver buildings a block away.
<-- Looking down 41st Street toward the New York Public Library from the rooftop garden of the Library Hotel
After nearly a century of serving as offices, the beautiful little slice of architecture became the Library Hotel.
The renovations left the exterior wonderfully intact, while adding rooms and over a million dollars of mahogany bookshelves in the interior.
Books are everywhere, from the moment we checked in at the card catalogue-decorated front desk in the shelf-lined lobby, to the hundreds of titles in each room that correspond to its number in the Dewey Decimal System.
For example, our room, 905, is based on 900.005 in the famous library-organizing system, which is the travel and geography category. Absolutely a perfect fit for us, and we fell asleep blissfully reading of far-off places every night.
As we investigated the motifs of the other rooms, we realized that we could have been just as happy in 800.005, filled with fairy tales, or the mysteries right next door, or the Love Suite at 1100.006.
But it would be tough to beat 500.006, the Astronomy Suite where Neil Armstrong took one giant sleep for mankind.
The rooms aren’t the only place designed to inspire reading and writing, the second floor Reading Room serves as a quiet getaway, or the place to be for breakfast and each evening's wine and cheese reception.
For even more inspiration, the rooftop Writer's Den and Poetry Garden did the trick.
Come cocktail hour, the garden transforms into the hotel’s lounge, Bookmarks.
We couldn’t think of a better place to thank all of the folks at Skyhorse Publishing who worked so hard getting our book, Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All, ready for publication, so we invited them all over for an after-work, literary-inspired drink.
We all sipped our “Ernest Hemingway”s and “Tequila Mockingbird”s while enjoying each other’s company and fantastic views of Manhattan.
<-- Get it? It's a bookmark!
See how we slipped that plug in there, downright clever, huh? Sorry, couldn’t pass up the chance for some shameless self-promotion. Especially since we were so excited to see everyone that we forgot to take pictures to commemorate the occasion (still kicking ourselves!).
We also couldn’t pass up visiting New York’s best known literary landmark, the public library, so we followed the ninety-six bronze sidewalk insets along 41st Street that form Library Way.
The walk’s bronze plaques feature quotes from classic literature and authors, paired with innovative artwork by Gregg LeFevre.
We read our way right to the steps between Patience and Fortitude, the two lions that guard the entrance to the massive archives. Fortitude is pictured above, and the easiest way to tell them apart is that Fortitude is closest to 42nd Street. --> 42=fortitude!
As we climbed the stairs things felt very familiar, must have been because the grand old building has been the star of countless movies, from Breakfast at Tiffany's, to Spider-Man, to the haunted book stacks in Ghostbusters.
Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to see those famous stacks. The one-hundred-and-twenty-five miles of shelves are off limits to the public. Can’t have the books getting misplaced or out of order, because the proverbial needle in the haystack would seem simple compared to finding a lost volume.
The the attempts at snapping the perfect photo of the ceiling in the McGraw Rotunda are many and varied. We gave up and simply laid down on the floor for ours!
The ceiling depicts Prometheus giving man the gift of fire, symbolizing knowledge. The murals in the rotunda are collectively titled The Story of the Recorded Word.
So we contented ourselves with simply taking in the grandeur of one of America’s largest marble buildings and viewing some of the artifacts on display. Of course the library has an outstanding collection of rare books, but it also serves as a museum of sorts, with hundreds of heirlooms donated throughout the years.
Back in our geography-and-travel-inspired hideaway in the Library Hotel, just thinking about all of those books was a bit mind boggling.
But we contentedly drifted off counting books instead of sheep.
Did we get any writing done? Yup. We wrote this!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com