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The Library Hotel: An Intelligent Oasis in Midtown Manhattan

Where: 299 Madison Ave [map], New York, ny, United States, 10017
March 4, 2004 at 11:56 PM | by | ()

Whether you are whisking that special someone off for a weekend in the Big Apple, or planning a Madison Avenue business trip, the Library Hotel needs to be near the top of your list as you plan your trip.  The hotel is located a short walk from Times Square, and only a block away from Grand Central Station.  You are far enough from the New York throngs to get some sleep, yet close enough to get to all Manhattan destinations.  Aside from the location, the real reason to stay at the Library is to give yourself a unique, European feeling experience in the heart of NYC.

It is a bold move for a NYC hotel to go themed.  Most hotels in Manhattan try to stay dark, hip, and ultra chic, but the great thing about the library is they take a not so swank theme, (books) and make it work on a NY level (it feels exclusive).


The Library hotel is housed in a skinny architectural gem of a building that juts out further into the street then most Madison Avenue buildings.  After entering the hotel's small lobby, you can take an elevator up to the reading room (floor 2) where the hotel's theme really begins to present itself.

On your way into the reading room, you will notice framed postcards that illustrate each and every room in the hotel.  The Library is a themed hotel, and the theme goes something like this:  The hotel is set up like your local library.  Each floor is a topic based (e.g. 12th floor is religion, 11th floor philosophy), and each room is numbered like the Dewey decimal system.  I stayed in 1200.005, which is the Native American room.  The rooms are full of many books on that specific topic.  As you can imagine, the different rooms create different levels of demand from the clientele.  According to the Library staff, Erotic Literature, is the number one most requested room.  Next in line on the demand scale...the Fairy Tales room!

The rooms themselves are not large, but hey, this is Manhattan, what do you expect in the land where people pay $1 MM for a studio apartment.  Though the rooms are small, they are comfortable, quiet, and come equipped with all the necessary provisions.  

Inside the hotel, there are two places where you are likely to be, and the first is the reading room.  Whether you are there for the complimentary breakfast, the weekday wine and cheese event, or just to have afternoon coffee and people watch Madison Ave, chances are you will love this room.  It is a bright, large room, and has the inviting feel of a European hotel sitting room.  In general, the Library Hotel really does feel a lot like a one of those small European hotels.  

The second place to check out is the 14th floor.  It is called the Writer's Den/Poetry Garden, and this is the place to spend your "inside" time.  The 14th floor is two sitting rooms (one complete with fire place and plasma TV) joined together by a small bar area that offers guests free Crystal Geyser water.  These two rooms lead out to an incredible wrap around terrace that allows you a chance to sit outside and take in the city from above.

The 14th floor makes you feel like you live in an amazing New York pied-a-terre, at least for one night. This would be the perfect place to write, hang out and watch TV, or have a romantic after- dinner bottle of wine.  This room will make it clear to you why the literati crowd frequents this hotel.  If you are local to NY, the Library rents this room out to lucky patrons for private soirees.  There is an effervescent flavor of intellect that fills this property and the epicenter of that flavor is on the 14th floor.  Somehow, all these books make you feel smart through osmosis, even if you never crack a single book during your stay.   You leave the place with a renewed energy for literature, and you might even feel like you are ready to pen a book yourself (uh oh).

Ok, so I know you want to know what detracts from this hotel, so here we go....

The price is steep; you are looking at over $200 night, unless you find one of the seasonal deals offered on their website.  The service is good, but the housekeeping crew isn't exactly in a hurry.  I returned to my room after 3pm to find it still not made up.  There is not a fitness center on site, so if you want to work out you'll be walking to the gym (it is only a couple block away).  Finally, if you are looking to impress your significant other with the size of your room, this isn't the place, as I said before, the rooms are small.

However, this hotel more than makes up for its few shortcomings with style, intelligence, and the little things.  Free breakfast, free wine, chocolates with famous quotes on the wrappers, free Internet, and that incredible 14th floor.  Check the Library website for deals and special offers.

[Editor's Note] Hotel Chatter writer markj's stay at the Library hotel was gratis.


Archived Comments:

Love it!

This is just such a great idea for booklovers. Though it would perhaps be a better idea if it was in a place where there isn't so much to see and do outside of the hotel! How do you decide whether to see the sites or stay in and read?