Saturday, 19 April 2008

An Erotic Reading Room

When you’re looking for a hotel in New York, you’re rather spoilt for choice. The range can be mind bogglingly confusing and first-time or just occasional visitors might feel just a trifle overwhelmed.

Well here’s a tip. If you are looking for something slightly different, and are prepared to dig a little bit deeper into your pockets to treat yourself and your family, consider booking a couple of nights at the Library hotel.

When staying in such a great city of course you don’t want to spend all your time stuck in your room. But by the same token you do want and need somewhere welcoming and relaxing to kick back your heels after a day pounding the streets. And of course there’s that sensational service for which the Americans are so famous.

The Library delivers on all fronts, with the added bonuses that it’s a fabulously unique place to stay, is an essential stopping-off point for any bookworm and won’t leave you bankrupt.

Billed as a concept hotel and bordering on the boutique, the worry is that it’ll fail to live up to expectations.

After all both are rather catch all phrases to which many hotels aspire, but few achieve. They can often leave travellers not only disappointed, but also wondering why on earth they shelled out so much money for so little.

This is so clearly NOT the case of the Library hotel.

First up it’s situated in midtown Manhattan on Madison and 41st (it’s easy to slip into the foreigner’s wannabe impersonation of NYC locals). That means it’s perfectly central for everything and anything. Broadway and the theatre district are a very un-American walk away, and the major museums, stores, opera, tourist sites, trendy quarters - in fact you name just about everything for which the Big Apple is famous – are just a few stops along on the subway.

Then of course there’s that “concept” – worrying perhaps to the uninitiated. But it works – 100 per cent.

The whole place is stuffed to the gills with over 6,000 books and each of the 60 well-sized rooms has its own theme. Those range from classics to fairy tales, music to fashion design, maths to dinosaurs, political science, journalism, ancient history, health and beauty, medicine…. and so the list continues. Oh yes and of course not forgetting that erotic literature! Everything’s organised using the Dewey Decimal System of classification practised in libraries around the world.

In short there’s something for everyone’s tastes, and you’re guaranteed never to be bored. If you are, then just flip on the flat screen TV, borrow a DVD or go surfing the Net. At long last, a hotel that doesn’t charge for Wifi access.

OK so no matter how “neat” the idea of the hotel might be, guests also want to feel pampered and looked after. A good hotel needs to balance efficient and friendly service with a smile and obvious pleasure.

And again, for fear of waxing just a little too lyrical and sounding like a commercial for the place, the Library hotel delivers.

Front desk are charming and delightful, responsive to the jet-lagged needs of a couple recently arrived Europeans and pointing them in the right direction for restaurants, shows, shopping and just about anything else that can be packed in to a long weekend.

Breakfast is only a letdown if you’re looking for an American-type fried-up blow out. But as that’s available just about everywhere else in the city seemingly at any time of the day, what the Library has to offer doesn’t really come as a disappointment.

Fresh pastries, proper real coffee or tea while leisurely browsing through the New York Times set just the right tone and don’t leave you feeling bloated and sleepy before venturing forth into the rest of the day.

Drop back in mid-afternoon and there’s another extra special treat awaiting guests on the second floor – wine and cheese - something this particular resident of France was not going to pass up on lightly.

And in the evenings there’s a great bar on the top floor, the Bookmarks Lounge that mixes some killer cocktails including the Great Gatsby, the Capote and this particular guest’s favourite Tequila Mockingbird. Of course if your tastes run to the more genteel then there’s always the Writer’s Den combining all mod cons with the luxury of quiet comfort. Bliss.

Let’s be straight up about this – it all comes at a price – and it ain’t cheap. But there are deals available and let’s face it, you get what you pay for. The service, quality, food, décor – in fact the whole package is top notch. And it’s definitely a hotel to recommend.

Go along and find out for yourself - just keep it a secret and don’t tell anyone else.

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