Library Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Midtown East, Manhattan, New York City

Oyster Review Summary

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  • Rooms near the elevator can be loud.
  • No cots or double rooms available

Bottom Line

A homey, 60-room, literary-themed boutique, the Library Hotel is located down the block from New York's famous Public Library, and among Midtown East's corporate skyscrapers. It's one of New York's best values, mostly because of the perks: an upscale bistro on the ground floor, a lively bar on the penthouse floor, free Wi-Fi, free gym passes, and free daily pastries, wine, and cheese.

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Oyster Hotel Review


A sophisticated 60- room boutique hotel with a literary theme, a lively bar, and a wide variety of guests

Guests in the Bookmarks Lounge
Guests in the Bookmarks Lounge

Calm, classy, and comfortable -- the Library is located in a prewar, Art Deco building just a block from Grand Central, one of the city’s biggest transportation hubs. In the reading room on the 2nd floor, where free coffee and pastries are served 24 hours a day, and free wine and cheese are available from 5 to 8 p.m., I rubbed shoulders with a trio of British guys in tight jeans and Converses talking about their film shoot, a twentysomething American girl in Uggs catching up on her e-mail, and a well-heeled couple on the tired side of their 50s poring over a map of New York. It’s a really mixed bag here -- young and old, business and pleasure, hip and nerdy.

Unlike many of New York’s boutique hotels (this one has 60 rooms), you won’t find any slick, lifeless, glossy monotone colors here. It’s regal but relaxed, and its clientele is as sophisticated as the Nixon, Neruda, and Tom Wolfe that line its shelves. Each of the hotel’s 10 floors are dedicated to one of the 10 major classifications of the Dewey Decimal System, including literature, languages, and mathematics. There are six rooms per floor and each are devoted to a theme within one of the larger classifications -- say, love, romance languages, or psychology, as it was in my case. The theme works, and without an iota of kitsch.

The bar on the top floor is lively at night with both guests and nonguests (think well-heeled business types and their clients). As is Madison & Vine, the restaurant and wine bar on the ground level (with the same owner as the bar, but unaffiliated with the hotel proper), which serves delicious upscale bistro fare.

Though the rooms are small, this is one of my favorite hotels in New York.


Classy, unpretentious, and prompt staff makes guests feel at home.

Complimentary chocolates and weather forecast note
Complimentary chocolates and weather forecast note

Service is impeccable -- classy but not pretentious -- a remarkable feat for a city where service is typically snobby at best and standoffish at worst. The Library Hotel defies New York’s smug stereotypes, though I did giggle a little when the staff referred to me with an honorific “Ms.”

Clad in a sharp suit and tie, Igor was the first person I encountered at the front desk. He introduced himself like a friend, not a hotel employee cranking guests in an out. Casual, engaging and conversational, he genuinely made me feel at home and even cracked a cute joke or two when he saw me scanning the impressive DVD collection of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 (Citizen Kane, Bonnie and Clyde, Rocky, Pulp Fiction, does it get any better?). “You’re in New York! I hope you don’t spend the night watching DVDs! But if it helps put you to sleep, I’d forgive you,” he told me.

The bellmen were nimble with my bags, taxis, and doors.

A call to room service for extra towels yielded the goods in two minutes flat and the requested soy milk for my coffee in the 2nd floor reading room appeared within seconds.

The hotel offers a turndown service. I returned to my room after only a few minutes away and found the bed neatly turned down, the blinds closed and the lights on.

I loved the chocolates the staff left on the pillow along with a note with the next day’s weather (rainy and 43°F, brrr).


Small and classy, featuring Egyptian cotton sheets, bamboo, and luxe bath products. Upgrade to avoid being near the dinging elevator.

Small bathroom in the Petite Room
Small bathroom in the Petite Room

My room, 1100.004 -- all rooms are organized in Dewey Decimal System, it’s the Library Hotel, get it? -- was a tiny 200 square feet. The next size up, the deluxe with a queen bed, is only 250 square feet, followed by a junior suite with a king bed, which is 350 square feet.

But to be fair, 200 square feet in New York is pretty average. Though I’ve seen closets more luxurious than my shoebox room, I grew fond of its smart, classy, understated character. But maybe that was just the 660-page tome “How the Mind Works”, by Harvard professor Steven Pinker, haunting me from above the TV (my room had a psychology theme).

Though I probably would’ve preferred rooms 1000.005 (journalism), 1100.005 (paranormal), or 800.001 (erotic literature), I was entertained by the yellowed hardbacks of Jung and Freud gathering dust on my bookshelf.

Details matter in this 60-room hotel, right down to the European and American converted electrical sockets in my wall, a small vase of bamboo on my desk, ironed Egyptian cotton sheets on my bed, an iHome iPod docking station adjacent to my bed, and the Thymes bath products in my (squint eyes here) very small but functional bathroom.

The view outside the room was open enough to let in good natural light, but not so open that I had a view of any landmark buildings. Granted, the building across the street so close that I could see someone inputting data into an Excel spreadsheet (far less interesting than watching someone play around on Facebook during work hours).

But beyond the size of the room itself, there was one problem: its location. My door was no more than two feet away from the elevator. Thankfully, there are only six rooms per floor and not much traffic at night, but I did find the dinging of the elevator eternally annoying while I was trying to work in the evenings. Request a larger room (either a deluxe or a junior suite) to be placed away from the elevator. Thankfully, street noise in my 11th-floor room was minimal.


Freebies include Wi-Fi, gym pass, breakfast, pastries, wine, and cheese.

The Reading Room
The Reading Room

The hotel features a unique reading room on the 2nd floor. It’s lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves (Nixon, Neruda or Tom Wolfe, anyone?), and fresh orchids are on each of the tables. Guests can come at any hour to pore over the paper (New York Times or USA Today, TimeOut New York or City) with a cup of coffee or an espresso from their La Cimbali machine. I came at midnight with my laptop in tow -- there’s free Wi-Fi everywhere in the hotel. There’s also a business room on the same floor with computers and a printer, for those who loathe schlepping their computers around.

Breakfast is served in the reading room every morning (cereal, pastries, bagels, fresh fruit, fresh O.J.). In the evening, wine (red, white, prosecco), cheese (brie, cheddar, havarti), and fruit (grapes, oranges) are served—also for free—from 5 to 8 p.m. every night.

There’s no gym in the hotel proper, but guests get free passes to the New York Sports Club (with every machine imaginable) just around the corner.

 Party Scene

Hip, happening bar on the penthouse floor.

Bookmarks Rooftop Lounge
Bookmarks Rooftop Lounge

The hotel itself is calm and serene, except for its penthouse floor (14th), where there's Bookmarks, a rooftop garden and bar with three different personas. There’s the “poetry garden,” a greenhouse with a wraparound terrace, the “writer’s den,” which has a working fireplace and its own heated terrace, and the bar itself, which has a sleeker, more mod feel than the rest of the hotel. All three rooms were buzzing when I arrived at 10 p.m. on a Monday night.

I sat perched on a stool next to a guy wearing a pinstripe shirt with his sleeves rolled up while I ordered a gin and tonic. Without skipping a beat, the bartender asked if I’d prefer Hendrick’s or Tanqueray. Classy operation.


There are no cots or roll-out beds, but cribs are available.

I heard nary a peep from anyone under the age of 30 at this hotel, which comes as no surprise. After all, the hotel doesn’t have cots or roll-out beds for additional little ones in tow. (“Our rooms are small, there’s no room for them,” said management.) However, the hotel can provide cribs.


Immaculate cleanliness in and ou.

The rooms and the hotel are genuinely spotless. I scoured the room in a valiant attempt to find a speck of dirt in the grout or a stray hair on the bathroom floor -- but found nothing.


A quiet but safe business district that's a cheap taxi ride away from anywhere in Manhattan.

It can feel like a ghost town at night since it’s mostly office buildings around the hotel. But the area feels safe, unless you find yourself at Grand Central, one of the city’s main transportation hubs, at an odd hour when there are usually homeless people loitering around. The upshot is that the hotel is so central that a cab won’t run more than $12 to Soho or the Lower East Side, two of the city’s best neighborhoods for eating and drinking.

Located just a block south of Grand Central and the main branch of the New York Public Library (the hotel’s namesake, naturally), and a few blocks from Times Square, Bryant Park, the Theater District, and some of the most haute shopping in the city (head west to Madison, Park and 5th Avenues and you’ll find everything from Ferragamo to Cartier to Versace, the hotel is a quiet sanctum tucked among some of New York’s greatest landmarks. It’s just a few blocks to Times Square and the Theater District, but the immediate vicinity around Library is quiet, especially at night, since the bars tend to wind down when the Midtown bankers head home after client dinners.

If you’re looking to stay closer to home, look no further than Bookmarks, the hotel’s rooftop bar, which attracts well-heeled locals and tourists—many of whom I couldn’t tell apart—who congregate together. Another great option is The Campbell Apartment located inside the Grand Central terminal; coincidentally, it’s owned by the same guys behind Madison & Vine on the hotel’s ground floor.


Upscale bistro and wine bar on the ground floor provides room service.

Wine and cheese in the Reading Room
Wine and cheese in the Reading Room

On the hotel’s ground floor is Madison & Vine, a hip, dimly lit bistro and wine bar. It’s not owned by the hotel, but it does provide its room service. It has a stellar wine list (60 reds, 50 whites) -- and the food is exceptional. My salmon with black olive tapenade, basil and parmesan mashed potatoes was superb, as were the other diners -- I overheard the folks discussion fundraising strategies for a prominent East Coast boarding school.

For those who wish to pass on room service, and still don’t want to leave the hotel, the hotel’s front desk keeps a huge selection of takeout menus.

 Bottom Line

A homey, 60-room, literary-themed boutique, the Library Hotel is located down the block from New York's famous Public Library, and among Midtown East's corporate skyscrapers. It's one of New York's best values, mostly because of the perks: an upscale bistro on the ground floor, a lively bar on the penthouse floor, free Wi-Fi, free gym passes, and free daily pastries, wine, and cheese.

Things You Should Know About Library Hotel


  • 299 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Library Hotel New York
  • Library Hotel New York City
  • The Library Hotel

Room Types

  • Deluxe Queen Room
  • Junior King Suite with Sofabed
  • Petite Full Room
  • Petite Single Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 60
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Midtown East, Manhattan
Address: 299 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
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