Hotel amenities

An underwater library and other hotel amenities for determined bookworms

YEARS AGO, Jane Ubell-Meyer found herself dumped by a boyfriend while vacationing together in St. Maarten. The one thing that saved his trip? A book, namely “Cry to Heaven” by Anne Rice. In 2017, Ms Ubell-Meyer, a former celebrity gift bag consultant, turned her lifeline into a business called Bedside Reading. Each month, the company selects books for more than two dozen hotels, with collections tailored to the establishment’s clientele. Conrad New York, for example, offers business books, while lifestyle hotels like the James New York-SoHo include more racy options (eg LJ Shen’s “Vicious”). For customers, the books are free and housekeeping replaces them while supplies last and new titles arrive the following month. Almost all the books are taken, Ms Ubell-Meyer said.

“When you immerse yourself in their world, that’s the real vacation.”

BEDTIME STORY One of the books offered to guests of the Commonwealth Hotel in Boston. PHOTO: RAY BERNOFF

That’s a good sign, given the latest reading statistics: Less than 18% of adults reported reading for pleasure daily in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an all-time low. But a number of hotels, and not just those participating in the Bedside Reading program, cater to traveling bookworms. Some boast huge libraries, like Hakone Honbako, which opened in Hakone, Japan last year with more than 10,000 tomes (though few are in English). Other places take a more old-fashioned approach, including Curtain Bluff in Antigua, with an airy outdoor library organized around the simple principle of “take a book, leave a book.” “When you immerse yourself in their world, that’s the real vacation,” Ms. Ubell-Meyer said. Here, some other book hotels, as well as recommended readings:

The door hotel

Key West, Florida.

Why read by the pool when you can read in the pool? Last year, Gates Hotels launched an underwater library. Created by Bibliobath on synthetic polypropylene paper, the collection includes waterproof and tear-proof classics like ‘Macbeth’ and short stories by Mark Twain. So, now, finally, you can quote Lady Macbeth playing Marco Polo. From $267 per night,

Book choice: “Wild Milk” by Sabrina Orah Mark. “The stories are a crazy mix of surreal, funny, heartbreaking and serious,” said Lee Sheehan, regional sales and marketing manager.

Acqualina Resort & Residences

Miami, Florida.

Guests carry bedside reading books from the beach to the pool to the hammocks around the resort. Some authors such as Michelle Tillis Lederman lead book talks for guests; and, for children, there is a monthly story hour at the library. From $700 per night,

Book choice: “Finding Mrs. Ford” by Deborah Goodrich Royce. “I love thrillers, and this one kept me on edge,” said Alexandra Wensley, the station’s vice president of communications.

The Jefferson

washington d.c.

The hotel library offers leather-bound books on Thomas Jefferson’s favorite subjects (including ornithology and philosophy), and at the Michelin-starred Plume, solo diners can pick a book from the shelf above. above the bar. The hotel also donates one book to a child for every room booked through the partnership between the DC Public Library Foundation and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. From $327 per night,

Book choice: Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance genius reinvented architecture by Ross King. “It’s a non-fiction book that reads like a movie script,” said hospitality historian Susan Sullivan Lagon.

Chatham Bars Inn

Chatham, Mass.

In January, this Cape Cod inn with its own library of a few hundred books hosted its first Literary Weekend, where author Casey Sherman led writing workshops. From around $295 a night,

Book choice: “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. “I love when a book captures my attention from the first sentence,” said Coleen Traynor, library consultant for the hostel.

Kimpton Hotel in Arras

Asheville, North Carolina

There are books on loan in the lobby, but you can also pick up one by a local author, like Joshua P. Warren’s “Haunted Asheville” from the hotel’s Serenity Cart, which rotates in the evenings. From $179 per night,

Book choice: “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. “It gave me insight into the lives of some of today’s most historic figures and their struggles,” said Michael-David Carpenter, the hotel’s guest experience manager.

Commonwealth Hotel


The Reading Suite has its own book corner, literature-inspired memorabilia, and 50 signed titles by authors who have stayed at the hotel. All rooms are replenished with fresh books each month, and guests can listen to Bedside Reading’s new podcast, featuring conversations with authors, broadcast via in-room TVs. From $190 per night,

Book choice: “Non-Obvious Mega Trends” by Rohit Bhargava. “The power to identify trends that are just percolating below the surface can be transformative,” said Adam Sperling, general manager of the hotel.

Corrections & Amplifications
The General Manager of the Commonwealth Hotel is Adam Sperling. An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the general manager’s last name as Smith.

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