Read and rest at the finest hotel libraries

Courtesy of Gladstone's Library / Today
Gladstone's Library at St. Deiniol's, Hawarden, Wales, is a hotel inside a library. British Prime Minister William Gladstone founded the residential library in 1889 as a sleepover haven for bibliophiles.

Books have long been essential traveling companions — perfect for pulling out on airplanes, perusing during solo meals or sparking conversations (remember how Jesse met Céline in "Before Sunrise"?). Libraries, too, have traditionally been welcome retreats for those abroad; travelers can learn about a new culture through its literature, or find comfort in the familiar pages of a favorite novel.

Slideshow: See the wonderful hotel libraries

These days, as travelers turn increasingly to e-readers and tablets, the allure of libraries might seem to be fading — but luckily, some hoteliers are preserving, and even revitalizing, the tradition of linking travelers with books. And they’re doing so right in their own hotels.

For these hoteliers, a carefully curated in-house library speaks volumes (no pun intended) about their property’s character. Some, like the Taj Falaknuma Palace, in Hyderabad, India, embody the timeless bibliophile’s fantasy of ceiling-high shelves, leather-bound tomes and cozy armchairs. Other properties put a distinctly modern spin on the library experience: For example, The Library resort in Koh Samui, Thailand, where the slick, white-on-white reading room evokes a poolside gallery space. And some hotels have been teaming up with art-book publishers to offer brand-specific reading material — like the Trump SoHo in New York City, where the library is stocked exclusively with Taschen monographs and art anthologies.

Some hoteliers need guidance in selecting what should go on their library shelves — which is where companies such as the Oxford-based Ultimate Library come in. By helping to create bespoke library collections especially for hotels and resorts, says Ultimate Library’s chairman, Philip Blackwell, his company “enhances the guest experience with books to educate, inspire and entertain.

“Someone once said that ‘a hotel should be a home from home but better,’” Blackwell continues. “Books are a vital component in creating this homeyness. Carefully chosen, they create a sense of place.”

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