Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Library Hotel, New York City

299 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Unlike The Plaza Hotel, which boasts its luxury with red carpets and a massive awning -- a big, bright cufflink on 5th Avenue’s sleeve -- you can’t judge the Library Hotel by its cover. This hotel is equally as luxurious as the Plaza, but quietly so, as befits its name.

Located on 41st Street just off the corner of Madison Avenue, the Library Hotel’s narrow walk-too-fast-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance is tucked between its neighbors like a thin hardcover tucked between two tomes on a shelf.

I’m guessing there are a couple of reasons for the Library Hotel's name. It is easy to see the facade of the New York Public Library from the hotel’s rooftop bar/outdoor space (pictured). Unfortunately the street is too narrow to accommodate a view of Patience and Fortitude, the famous lion sculptures on either side of the NYPL’s grand front steps. Taking a cue from this location, not only are the hotel’s lobby and common areas filled with books, each guest room has a generous bookshelf, too. Even better? Each floor corresponds with a classification of the Dewey Decimal System, and each room to a subset of that classification. Checking into a hotel isn’t ever a noteworthy marker during a trip, but here, the surprise of finding out the subject of my room made the short process more exciting than usual.

My mom and I did some reading before booking our room and found only rave reviews about the customer service. From the moment I first stepped through the door, I could tell the raves were right. Absolutely every employee we came in contact with was cheerful, friendly, and knowledgeable.   

There are just 10 guestroom floors with six rooms per floor. We checked in before our room was ready -- guests don’t have to check out until 1pm -- so we were encouraged to relax in the second floor Reading Room where there are refreshments available 24 hours a day. Additionally, for a couple of hours in the evening, they bring out wine, prosecco, and even more nibbles. There is a baby grand piano in this room, but unfortunately it doesn't look like their collection includes music books. Wherever there is a chair or sofa in the Library Hotel, you will find books.

Upon finding out our room was ready, we headed to the 8th floor -- or class 800 in the Dewey Decimal System, which is dedicated to literature. Our room number corresponded to fairy tales. A mystery theme was next-door; erotic literature was down the hall (honeymoon suite, perhaps?).

The Deluxe room with a king bed is cozy. Yes, I mean that in the real estate sense, but it’s definitely not the smallest room we’ve stayed in, either (I’m looking at you, La Quinta Manhattan). The room was truly cozy in the cuddle-up-with-tea-and-a-book sense, too. The creamy beige tones, fluffy bed, and warm lighting soothed us both after a long morning full of planes and trains.

I didn’t feel cramped staying in the room with my mom. We didn’t knock into each other as we checked out the closet (plenty of hangers), drawers, the big, stylish bathroom with an arched ceiling, and the view out our two large windows. I’m confident the walls were thick enough so our neighbors didn’t hear my mom and I ooh and ahh as we found our robes and slippers.

We unpacked and headed out on the town, luxuriating in the knowledge we’d return to a room prepared for the evening (and a small refrigerator for our doggy bags). The Library Hotel has turndown service, and we returned to drawn curtains, Belgian chocolates on the pillows, and a classic jazz station playing quietly on the bedside clock radio. Each room has a television and DVD player and there is a DVD library somewhere in the hotel. Some people have complained in their reviews of the Library about the small size of the television. Personally, it didn’t bother me -- it reminded me that there were books to read. Despite go, go, going while we’re in the city, my mom and I found some time in the evenings to have tea, wrap ourselves in our robes, and cozy up with books. I think I slept better because of it, too. And though we had grand plans to get our complimentary breakfast each morning, we never left our room in time.

In addition to breakfast and round-the-clock fruit, pastries, and select beverages, the Library offers many complimentary extras. Just a few on a very long list include evening wine and cheese receptions, turndown service with Belgian chocolates and bottled water, access to New York Sports Clubs, and wi-fi. Also, if you’re visiting the city and staying at the Library for a special occasion, be sure to mention it to the front desk before you arrive. 

There was only one negative aspect to the room, which my mom pointed out: "It's not that major of a deal, but the opaque glass window in the bathroom wall let too much light into the bedroom when one of us wanted to sleep." Which reminds me -- if you do have trouble sleeping, there is an item called sleep earmuffs (or something like that) on the amenities list. I didn't need them, but wish I would have tried them; supposedly they're like cushioned noise-canceling earmuffs that play soothing music.

It wouldn’t be a true library experience if you didn’t get a little something for showing your library card, now would it? Be sure to show your Library Hotel room key at the NYPL’s gift shop for 10% off your purchase.