Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A book lover's dream, the Dewey Decimal-themed Library Hotels plays its theme to the hilt, with tomes coming out of every nook and cranny -- and the New York Public Library seeming to peek into every room from its perch only a block away.
Making itself the unofficial mascot of the New York Public Library a block away (and seemingly in sight from nearly every room), the Library Hotel takes its book theme to the hilt. Rooms and floors are organized by the Dewey Decimal system (long after many actual libraries have abandoned it, it should be noted), with books in every nook and cranny. It's a bibliophile's paradise. A card catalogue towers over the front desk, and each floor has a light projection of its general theme (such as "philosophy" or "the arts"). The rooms are filled with tomes curated by The Strand bookstore, suited to a particular subsection of the floor's theme (such as "ancient religions" or "performance arts"). Thankfully, staff are not of the shushing-librarian sort.
This intimate boutique draws primarily couples (the lack of rooms with two double beds makes this an inconvenient choice for families), and on our visit, the guests were younger and more artistically bent than are typically found at hotels in this stodgy, corporate neighborhood. There are several cozy gathering places for drinks right on the premises. The Writers Den and Poets Garden, which becomes the popular Bookmarks Lounge at night, offers airy (and heated) terraces and a fireplace in the winter, as well as literature-inspired cocktails. The bright, attractive Reading Room has a grand piano, and is where free wine and cheese is served for a few hours each evening. This neighborhood is not otherwise known for its trendy nightlife, however (nearby watering holes tend to be of the banker-filled, Irish pub variety). The location is convenient for sightseeing, but those not looking to imbibe at Bookmarks or snuggle up with a good book in the evenings may wish to shelve themselves in hipper environs -- what's the Dewey Decimal classification for "Downtown" or "Brooklyn"?
Centrally located for those with business or pleasure to be done in Manhattan, the hotel offers easy access to Midtown tourist sights such as Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and (of course) the New York Public Library. Museum Mile and the other usual destinations on the island are a short subway ride away, though late-night carousers will prefer lodgings farther downtown.
Located smack dab in Midtown on 41st and Madison, the Library Hotel is right in the middle of things, offering easy access to Midtown Manhattan sights such as Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and countless restaurants, bars, and shops. Museum Mile and the other usual island tourist spots are short subway or cab rides way, while Grand Central's proximity means that even day trips up the picturesque Hudson Valley are easily arranged. The area is largely commercial, however, so guests will find that the hustle and bustle dies down noticeably after 7 p.m., and that most of the local scenes have migrated elsewhere after dark, so they may have to cab or subway downtown to find trendier nightlife. Younger, hipper visitors who wish to partake of New York's social scene rather than books or the checklist sights will prefer to find lodging farther downtown or in Brooklyn.
For those who've ever fantasized about being locked in a library or bookstore overnight, the rooms will prove delightful. For guests who like to be able to stretch their bodies rather than their minds, the rooms may feel a bit snug.
Rooms are organized into specific subjects according to the Dewey Decimal system ("Music" and "Performing Arts," for example, are the names and themes of rooms on the "Arts" floor), and each contains numerous appropriate used books -- curated with the help of the Strand Bookstore. For book lovers who ever dreamt about being locked in a library or bookstore, this is heaven. For those who prefer to stretch their bodies rather than their minds, the rooms may seem tight. The Petite Room, at 200 square feet, earns its name -- although, by New York standards, this size isn't uncommon. (It's also worth noting that Petite Rooms are near the elevators, and may experience noise.)
Those staying in the unique Love Room will have a chance to open up their room with their own small terrace. (Though they may prefer to keep the doors closed and explore the works of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who the staff said helped decorate the room.) The small rooms and unusual footprints mean there are no rooms with twodouble beds available in the hotel, but the staff can try to place families in adjacent rooms that share an antechamber.
Decor in all rooms is sophisticated and understated: Expect plush white duvets, padded button headboards, and dark woods. Amenities include mini-fridges (minibars are being phased out), slippers, robes, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries in the bathrooms.
The Library Hotel lacks several features expected at this price point, such as in-house gym or kitchen, but it helps compensate for these deficits with thoughtful extras and its unique theme.
Travelers used to 21st-century chain hotels may be momentarily baffled by the lack of certain features they've become accustomed to -- there is no in-house gym (the hotel offers free passes to New York Sports Club), no in-house kitchen (room service is handled by the adjacent Madison & Vine restaurant), and no first-floor common area off the lobby (that role is assumed by the second-floor Reading Room, which is grander and pleasanter than the average hotel lobby, but might be inconvenient if there were more than a handful of guests waiting for their rooms to be readied). The hotel instead plays up its book theme, arranging for guest-only book signings by authors during its daily wine-and-cheese hours, and taking a laissez-faire attitude toward guests who wish to "borrow" or even "loan" volumes.
A quirky 60-room hotel just a tome's throw from the New York Public Library, this lovingly book-themed tower is a bibliophile's dream stay. It's also within walking distance to many Midtown tourist attractions, several transportation hubs, and enough bars and restaurants to keep one's non-lettered hours plenty busy. This intimate boutique is missing many features guests may expect at this price point (such as a fitness center), and the stodgy Midtown location isn't as trendy as many of the guests who choose to stay here, but the cozy lounges, contemporary (if small) book-filled rooms, and thoughtful extras such as free wine and cheese help make this one of the most charming picks in the neighborhood.