Whether they’re on business or leisure, with the family or solo, almost all travelers consider a book (or a Kindle, whatever) a must-have while on a trip. Personally, we love curling up with a good read while we’re jaunting from city to city. But — taking it one step further — we really love enjoying a novel in the exact same place where the author once roamed There’s just something in the air — and p.s. these wordsmiths usually stayed in some pretty nice digs. So we rounded up the literary hotels where famous authors have partied, waited arrest, you name it. Hey, some even wrote while they were shacked up in their hotel rooms. Check out nine spots where famous writers have spent some time.
Built in 1887, the Cadogan Hotel has seen its fair share of history within the walls of the stately Edwardian townhouse. In the realm of literary history, Oscar Wilde was a frequent guest, and he caused quite a scandal when he was arrested at the hotel in 1895 (though friends encouraged him to flee the country, Wilde refused). Poet laureate John Betjeman commemorated the arrest in his poem The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, and the hotel has renamed the room where the handcuffing went down as the Oscar Wilde Room. At the time of the arrest, it was simply room no. 118.
Hotel Monteleone, located in the lively French Quarter, is steeped in literary history; it was even named an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association in 1999 — and is one of only three hotels in the U.S. to hold this title (the other two, of course, also make this list). Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, among others, mentioned the hotel numerous times in their great works, and they — along with William Faulkner — were frequent guests at the hotel. Taking it one step further, Truman Capote often claimed that he was born in Hotel Monteleone, most famously during an appearance on The Tonight Show; though his mother did stay at the hotel during her pregnancy, Capote was born in a nearby hospital.
Many recognizable names — Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner– have called Hotel Elysee home, but possibly the most notable resident is playwright Tennessee Williams, who lived in the hotel for fifteen years until his death in 1983. Williams wrote all of his later works in his suite and rumor has it that guests were known to complain that they could hear his typing late into the night. Today, the hotel boasts a presidential suite in Williams’s honor, with various literary memorabilia.
More than a century old, the Hotel Washington Square has witnessed plenty of antics from its guests, with one being the famed Welsh poet and writer, Dylan Thomas. On his first tour of the United States, Thomas lived in the Washington Square Hotel (then the Hotel Earle) after being kicked out of his previous hotel for loud, late-night partying and outlandish room service requests.
Built in the late 1800s as a resting stop for passengers of the Orient Express, Pera Palace has a rich history which must have inspired Agatha Christie; she reportedly wrote Murder on the Orient Express while shacking up at the hotel. (The Agatha Restaurant pays homage to her stay.) And Christie’s not the only literary great to pass through this luxurious hotel’s halls. Hemingway apparently took a liking to the Orient Bar (shocker), and in his short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the protagonist stays at the hotel while serving in the military. The Ernest Hemingway Suite pays homage to the former guest.
After the success of In Cold Blood, Truman Capote threw a lavish party — dubbed the Black and White Ball — at The Plaza in honor of his book and The Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Invitations were highly sought after and only the most elite of the “in”-crowd were on the guest list. Capote wasn’t the only well-known literary figure to party at the iconic hotel, which is why this hotel is also considered a literary landmark. F. Scott Fitzgerald spent so much time at The Plaza that Hemingway suggested his friend leave his liver to Princeton and his heart to The Plaza. Just this past Friday, the hotel premiered the Fitzgerald Suite in honor of the author and the opening of the latest The Great Gatsby film.
This Midtown hotel attracts couples, business travelers, and the occasional Nobel laureate — William Faulkner wrote his acceptance speech for the 1949 Nobel Prize in the hotel’s lobby. The Algonquin has hosted many other famous literary minds as well — one of the first hotels to accept single female guests, the Algonquin has been a temporary home to the likes of Gertrude Stein and Maya Angelou. But perhaps most notably, The Algonquin Hotel was the site of the famous Round Table meetings in the 1920s. A group of writers, critics, and actors, the Round Table — including names such as Robert E. Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, George F. Kaufman, and Edna Ferber — met for lunch daily to discuss everything from literature to politics. The hotel’s on-site restaurant is named in the group’s honor, and it is also a literary landmark.
The Bond-like setting (and name) at the GoldenEye Resort is no accident. In fact, 007 himself was born right here on the property’s lush grounds, back when writer Ian Fleming owned the oceanfront land. Every year, the scribe spent several months in his massive villa, writing all 14 of his famous tales of the sleek and sophisticated spy. When Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chris Blackwell bought the property in the 1980s, he realized the appeal of the historic estate as well as its untouched surroundings and converted it into a resort. Today, the Fleming Villa remains intact, featuring its own private pool and even the writer’s original desk over which he slaved year after year.
While Fleming was not gallivanting in the Caribbean, he was busy gallivanting in his hometown of London, England. The wordsmith reportedly frequented the bar at the Dukes Hotel, and this is where we come up with the line “shaken, not stirred.” Not surprisingly, the bar now specializes in martinis, and even offers a martini masterclass for those hoping to whip of a cocktail worthy of 007′s approval.