By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva
A little oasis of quiet and tranquility in the hustle and bustle of the big city—that’s what we found in the relaxing confines of the wonderfully small, yet stylishly elegant Library Hotel in mid-town Manhattan. If you’ve ever stayed in a major chain hotel in New York City and found the frenetic pace of the city followed you into the lobby and common areas of the hotel, you will come to appreciate the cozy serenity of this unique luxury boutique hotel.
Located just one block from the New York Public Library on Madison Avenue at 41st Street (the street is actually referred to as Library Way), The Library Hotel is an intimate 60-room hotel that feels more like a private club than a hotel. Converted from a turn-of-the-century, 12-story office building, The Library offers the attentiveness and luxury of Old World hospitality with an interesting theme. Befitting the name, each hotel floor and room is classified by a Dewey Decimal system category of knowledge (remember those days?). The floors’ categories include such subjects as Math and Science, Social Sciences, Language, Literature, General Knowledge, Philosophy, and Religion. Each of the guest rooms is then related to the specific Dewey Decimal theme by its framed art and a small library of books. The Literature Floor, for instance, has room 800.002 as Classic Fiction, room 800.004 as Dramatic Literature, and 800.006 as Mysteries. Other room titles include World Culture, Twentieth Century History, Eastern Religion, Encyclopedias, and Dinosaurs. We enjoyed staying in the Dinosaur room on our visit.
The rooms, elegantly simple and comfortable, are decorated in rich cream tones with mahogany doors and cabinetry (over one million dollars of mahogany is utilized throughout the hotel), polished granite-topped desks, and wonderfully appointed bathrooms. In-room amenities and services include daily turndown service with bottled spring water and Belgian chocolate; plush bathrobes; and multiple phone lines with voice mail, data ports and complimentary high-speed and wireless internet access. Guests are invited to enjoy any of a selection of newspapers, magazines, CDs, or a DVD from the library of American Film Institute’s Top 100 films.
“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” –Jorge Louis Borges
The hotel lobby continues the library theme with book-filled mahogany shelves lining the walls; and the wall behind the reception desk is a floor-to-ceiling faux library card catalogue—a vestige of what libraries once were. Our favorite room at The Library is the book-lined second floor Reading Room, where guests are invited to enjoy complimentary refreshments, such as a deluxe continental breakfast; cappuccino, latte, coffee, teas, cookies, pastries and fruits throughout the day; and the perfect “unwinder”—a wine and cheese reception from 5–8 pm each day.
Another perfect spot to enjoy the complimentary cappuccino or glass of wine is on the 14th floor in the Poetry Garden, a rooftop greenhouse sitting room with an outdoor terrace, and the cozy Writer’s Den, a mahogany-paneled sitting room featuring overstuffed seating, a gas fireplace and a glass-enclosed terrace. This area transforms into Bookmarks Lounge at 4:00 pm everyday except Sunday. The hotel also provides a Business Center with computer stations and privileges at a nearby New York Sports Club fitness center.
The Library Hotel always offers a few packages that may be of interest, and these change seasonally. The Broadway Package is one of the packages that remains year round. The Bibliophile Special offers 20% off for booking a non-refundable reservation in advance. Information about all of these packages and a photo tour of the hotel is available by visiting www.libraryhotel.com.
A Dining Suggestion
Another wonderful feature of the hotel is its American Bistro and International Wine Bar, Madison & Vine, which is located just off the hotel’s lobby. We had lunch there and thoroughly enjoyed a very tasty Cobb Salad with crumbled bleu cheese, avocado slices,applewood smoked bacon, and chicken, as well as a delectable lamb sandwich with roasted red peppers, and goat cheese on
toasted ciabatta bread. The wine selection, although a bit pricey, was extensive. Our service was attentive enough, even though there was a busy lunch crowd. The atmosphere is top-notch with an oak bar that runs the length of the restaurant and a lattice of wine bottles suspended overhead. We asked the bellhop if the dining room was just as busy in the evening, and he said it was even busier. The pleasant atmosphere, great wine selection, yummy food, and convenience of location make Madison & Vine a great choice for lunch or dinner while staying at The Library.
City Attractions—Discounts on the Best of the Big Apple
There is so much to see and do in New York City that it can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. We suggest that you consider the New York City PASS. This coupon book is good for admission to six of the city’s top attractions at a greatly reduced price. The attractions include the Empire State Building Observatory (you wouldn’t believe how many locals have never been to the top of the Empire State Building); the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the American Museum of Natural History; and the Museum of Modern Art. The final two passes give options: the first is a ride on the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises or the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty&Ellis Island; and the second option is admission to the Guggenheim Museum or the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) Observation Deck. Cost for the City PASS is $79 for adults (a savings of $65) and $59 for a youth ages 6-17. For more information about New York City PASS and other cities’ City PASS call 888-330-5008 or visit www.citypass.com.
NYC—All in One Place
Another suggestion for information about your visit to New York City is to visit the Official NYC Information Center. Located in Midtown on 7th Ave. at 53rd St., this information center has interactive guides to just about everything in the city, including maps, MetroCards, and tour tickets. There are four additional centers (a couple are just kiosks) located near City Hall, in Chinatown, in Times Square, and in Harlem. Actually, you should visit the website at www.nycgo.com before you go, and you will find a wealth of information to help you plan your trip. You will find information about restaurants, from the affordable to the lavish; Broadway shows; kid-friendly itineraries; free things to do every day in NYC and much more. Check out the “Special Deals” link for some interesting ideas.
Of Rock Stars, World Leaders, and the Child Pharaoh
Two attractions that we enjoyed during our stay in NYC were Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Discovery Times Square Exposition’s show Titanic. Both of these are located on 42nd St. near Broadway, an easy walk form the Library Hotel. We had fun at Madame Tussaud’s posing for pictures with the amazingly life-like images of movie stars like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie; rock stars such as Mick Jagger, Madonna, and Beyonce; and world leaders like Barack Obama, Ghandi, Napoleon, and Martin Luther King. The possibilities for poses are endless. In addition to the wax figures there are a number of interactive exhibits that are a lot of fun. For more on the Wax Museum, its wide variety of figures, attractions, and prices, visit www.madametussauds.com.
As much as we liked the Titanic Exhibit, we think visitors will be even more enthralled with Discovery TSX’s new exhibit, King Tut, set to open April 23. Tickets go on sale March 23, 2010, and judging from other King Tut exhibits, demand will be high. Among the 130 artifacts in the exhibit are the boy pharaoh’s golden canopic coffinette and the crown found on his head when his tomb was discovered. An interesting fact about Discovery TSX is that the vast space that houses the exhibit rooms was actually the former site of the New York Times printing presses. For more on the Discovery Times Square Exposition visit www.discoverytsx.com.
Visiting New York City, whether for business or pleasure, can be a little intimidating for some. But with the help of advance planning using the resources mentioned here, and the relaxing atmosphere of a gem of a hotel like The Library, your stay can be a truly enjoyable experience.