In celebration of National Library Week this week, Hotel News Now reached out to hotels with unique libraries to find out their history and how they spread the word to guests and locals.
GLOBAL REPORT—The local library isn’t the only place to find a good book—they can also be found on the shelves in some hotels.
Hotel News Now reached out to hotels with unique library offerings to learn about the history of their libraries, why they draw in guests and more.
The Jefferson hotel in Washington, D.C., implemented its “Book Room” during the hotel’s three-year renovation in 2007, according to Meredith Goldberg, director of marketing and communications at the hotel.
The room is “modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom in Monticello where he insisted to be close to his library,” she said via email, and there is a nook in the Book Room that represents his sleeping area.
You’ll find some of Jefferson’s favorite reads in the Book Room, Goldberg said.**
The Jefferson has limited meeting space, Goldberg said, so the Book Room serves as a good spot for guests to work and entertain. It is also a good place to meet with the hotel’s historian, Susan Sullivan Lagon, to learn more about the “history of the hotel as a whole, as well as on the history of select works in the Book Room that relate to (Jefferson’s) favorite topics,” Goldberg said.
The hotel leverages social media channels to spread the word about the library room and some of the programming offered in the space, she said.
“The Jefferson also continues to highlight the room’s First Library shelf as part of its literary programming; the shelf is filled with children’s books curated by the D.C. Public Library, in homage to (Jefferson’s) love for literature and education,” Goldberg said.
Library Hotel Collection
The first Library Hotel that started the Library Hotel Collection was formed when independent hotelier Henry Kallan had the idea of transforming a dilapidated building a block away from the New York Public Library into a hotel.
“The Library Hotel was designed by Architect Stephen B. Jacobs, and it was his son, Jordan Jacobs, a stage and film set designer who came up with the idea to have each of the 10 guestroom floors represent one of the 10 classifications of knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System including the arts, literature, philosophy and language,” Adele Gutman Milne, VP of sales, marketing and revenue at the Library Hotel Collection, said via email.
Each room in the 60-key Library Hotel is “uniquely adorned with a library of 50 to 150 books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category it belongs to,” she said.
“Many of the room’s books were curated by experts in their field—the Love Room’s collection of books were hand-selected by the famous Dr. Ruth Westheimer; Vera Wang was the honorary curator of the Fashion Design Room and Strand Bookstore, one of the oldest running bookstores in Manhattan and home to (more than) 2.5 million books, helps the Library’s Honorary Librarian keep the hotel’s shelves stocked,” she said.
If there’s not a book within the guestroom that a guest wants to read, Milne said there are also 6,000 books throughout the hotel.
The Hotel Emma in San Antonio has a 3,700-book collection, which was amassed prior to the hotel’s opening date on 12 November 2015, Beth Ticku Smith, VP of marketing and public relations at the hotel, said via email.
The library is right off of the hotel’s lobby, making it easy for guests to find, which lends itself as good place for a welcome cocktail.
“After being open a few months, we quickly determined that our overnight guest needed a special place of intimacy just for them,” she said. “We serve a fresh hand-shaken welcome margarita in a turquoise-etched glass in the library upon arrival. We also serve complimentary coffee and small-bite pastries in the morning there for in-house guests.”
The library is open to guests staying at Hotel Emma and requires a keycard for entry, and Smith added that there are occasionally book readings and book signings held in the library.
The Heathman Hotel
The Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, has been a “cultural fixture” in the city’s arts district since its opening in 1927, and the library at the hotel “grew out of the hotel and the city’s reputation (as a) beacon for creatives,” Kate Buska, VP of brand development and communications at Provenance Hotels, said via email.
For the last 30 years,* “when authors would visit Portland, they would very often stay at the Heathman and the hotel began to purchase their works and have them signed by the writer,” she said. “This organically grew into the more than 3,000-volume-strong collection housed at the Heathman today.”
The library is open to guests and locals as a place to read or work and enjoy tea service on weekends, she said.
“We feature it prominently in our marketing outreach and it is a popular spot for capturing that perfect Instagram photo,” Buska said.
The library at the hotel was renovated in 2018, and Buska said it has gained a lot of media attention.
“Beyond that, the space itself and the hotel’s long-standing commitment to collecting these works and celebrating the art of the written word is a true differentiator for the hotel in an increasingly competitive sector of the industry,” she said. “As more and more hotels, from those run by independent operators to those curated by major flag’s soft brands, are embracing lifestyle or boutique positioning, having an authentic, organically developed, historically relevant offering like this is invaluable.”
At the Conrad Cartagena, the hotel’s Biblioteka restaurant has a library-style design.
“The restaurant is designed to imitate an old-world library and features antique rolling ladders, old volumes and maritime maps that line the natural oak shelves, and an expansive back-lit bar,” said Jairo Cuesta, marketing manager at the hotel.
Conrad Cartagena also launched a series of literary programs this March to “help promote the vibrant local culture through books that reflect the city’s history by Colombian authors,” he said. These programs include Colombian Corner, where guests can read local literature while enjoying Colombian coffee; and fireside poetry readings where guests read poetry from the library or their own work.
Biblioteka also offers a Libros y Licor book club to guests and guests dining in. Libros y Licor is a weekly book club and a literary immersion tour where guests are taken to explore Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s house.
*Correction, 9 April 2019: This story has been updated to clarify the history of The Heathman Hotel's library.
**Correction, 9 April 2019: This story has been updated to remove inaccurate information provided by a source.