Gone are the days when you might have relied on a shelf in some corner of your bed-and-breakfast for torn James Patterson paperbacks and a copy of Let’s Go from the ’90s. Now hotels all over the world stock classics, art books, and even up-to-date travel guides in beautiful spaces where visitors can hang out, read, and chat up other lit-loving jet-setters. Finally, brainy travelers can book (pun intended) a hotel with a library.
Fifteenth-century Tuscan villa-turned-hotel Il Salviatino—with its impressive collection of 4,000 books—was once a gathering place for poets and artists, including Salvador Dalí. More recently, the Dalai Lama stayed here in 2017 and, of course, visited the library. After you’re done reading, stroll to the terrace overlooking Florence for pasta dishes cooked with produce from the onsite garden; when the weather isn’t cooperating, dinner is served in the library instead.
Each OD Hotel—a small chain of design hotels in Spain—has a Taschen Book Bar with a collection of coffee-table art books from the German publisher Taschen. The lobbies of each hotel provide quiet reading spaces with plenty of natural light and modern furniture. Guests can flip through books, sip café cortados, and bask in the hotel’s calm ambience before heading out into the bustle of Barcelona, Mallorca, or Ibiza.
Perry Lane Hotel
The new Perry Lane Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, partnered with two local independent bookstores to create its extensive library. You can read about Savannah’s history or local art or regional cooking. Or you can get cozy with a novel. You can even check out a book and take it to the rooftop or your room. And if you like a book enough to take it home, you can visit one of the partner bookstores to buy it.
Lake Austin Spa Resort
The antique-filled library at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, is called the Garden Library because it overlooks the property’s organic gardens, where more than 1,000 species of herbs, vegetables, wildflowers, and other plants grow. Many of these offerings are incorporated into the chef’s flavorful, nutritious “conscientious cuisine.” Thanks to the resort’s guest author program, “For the Love of Books,” the library includes a signed book from each visiting author, including Sandra Brown, Candace Bushnell, and Top Chef star Gail Simmons.
At Jumeirah Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany, Max on One is a restaurant-library combo. There, you’ll find books in English and German and a quiet lounge for reading. It also hosts events year-round, including wine tastings and author appearances. If you’re hungry, you can watch chefs grill your meat or veggies; when the meal is ready, you can devour it and a book at the same time.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Once a 16th-century convent, JW Marriott El Convento Cusco in Peru is now a hotel that boasts original Peruvian colonial arches, ceramics from 800 C.E., and trinkets from its convent days. In the library, which includes a book documenting the history of the site and the construction of the hotel, you’ll also find furniture upholstered with handwoven fabrics from Peru’s Andean region and a patch of pre-Incan flooring.
Ireland has long been a destination for literature lovers, and the library at Ballyfin, a mansion-turned-hotel at the foot of Ireland’s Slieve Blue Mountains, upholds that tradition with its library of more than 5,000 books, including many on Irish history. A couple of fireplaces complete the atmosphere. This is one of those hotels you never have to leave: Outside, you can fish in the lake; stroll the quiet, walled gardens, or get into the country-life spirit more with a game of croquet or a bit of falconry.
If you stay at Casa Palopó in Guatemala, it can be tough to wrench yourself away from the views of Lake Atitlan and the three volcanoes, but you won’t regret heading inside the boutique hotel to explore the library, which celebrates regional culture. The furniture is covered in local textiles, and the art includes local hand-painted pottery and a decorative huipil (a traditional tunic-style garment) from one of the surrounding villages.
Architect-to-the-stars Jeffrey Beers designed Manhattan’s WestHouse Hotel in the style of an Upper West Side townhouse, and its library lends itself to the homey aesthetic. Here, guests can flip through novels, design books, and tomes on Pissaro and Goya. The library shelves also hold blown-glass vases, Indonesian wood sculptures, and other souvenirs from around the world: It’s as if you’re crashing in the pad of a well-traveled friend who’s off sailing in the Caribbean.
The library at Carlisle Bay in Antigua is lit by fiber-optic mood lighting that changes depending on the time of day: a peaceful blue in the early morning, vibrant green at sunset, deep violet in the evening. The colors blend nicely with the sea, sky, and Caribbean sunsets. Enjoy the library’s cushy, comfy furniture, as well as computers and printers with free Wi-Fi. The collection is always changing; in addition to a large permanent collection that includes Hemingway, Melville, and Jay McInerney, there’s a give-and-take program—leave a book, take a book—so you can swap whatever you read on the plane for something new to for the flight home.