How to enjoy a New York vacation as a literary lover
Why is New York a beacon that shines around the world to draw writers to harvest ideas from all its creative prompts?
Is it for the colorful characters?
Is it for the evocative settings?
Is it for random experiences?
It’s really the sum of all these elements that make New York a great place for writers and you the literary lover to spend your time in sites that become backdrops for novels.
How can you do this?
Stay at The Library Hotel
TheLibraryHotel settles you into a literary mood, since it is snuggled between the New York Public Library and Grand Central in midtown Manhattan. Even better, the rooms that are inspired by the Dewey Decimal System with 10 floors corresponding to the categories of the Dewey Decimal System; each room features a unique topic within those categories and features books and art to go along with it. After a day of your urban adventure, can unwind from their urban by enjoying the quiet exploration of over 6,000 books.
Where will you find your literary urban experiences?
Visit and imbibe in some of famous taverns, saloon, and pubs where some of the literary greats gathered. For starters, here are some suggestions.
Where: West Village
The WhiteHorseTavern holds the distinction of being the bar where Welsh poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death, taking 18 shots of whiskey and dying the next day of alcohol poisoning. His portrait hangs in the bar along with a plaque and newspaper articles commemorating him. Thomas was far from the only writer to get intoxicated at the White Horse Tavern. Beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac often drank there. So did New York School poets John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, as well as James Baldwin, Anaïs Nin, and Norman Mailer. The bar has been around since 1880 and it’s still a popular spot today.
Where: West Village
Originally opened on MacDougal Street in 1950, KettleofFish has moved twice, taking its raucous history with it. The bar has always welcomed intellectuals, writers, and musicians, including Bob Dylan, Kerouac, and Corso. Once, after a long night of drinking, Kerouac left the bar and was beat up by a couple of thugs, who broke his nose and arm. Joyce Johnson, his girlfriend at the time, wrote about it in her memoir. Kettle of Fish currently resides at 59 Christopher Street, where it draws equal numbers of creative types and sports fans.
BLUE BAR AT THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL
Where: Midtown West
Since its opening in 1902, the Algonquin Hotel‘s BlueBar and Round Table restaurant have welcomed Nobel laureates, editors, and distinguished women writers, like Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Helen Hayes, and Maya Angelou. The hotel’s first owner, Frank Case, envisioned it as a cultural and literary bastion, and drew writers and artists in by ensuring a daily luncheon for them. It was here that The New Yorker was born, and the hotel still provides guests with a free copy of the magazine to this day. A renovation completed in 2012 ensured that contemporary writers—like Junot Diaz, who recently visited—have the Wi-Fi access and modern amenities they need.
Where: Midtown West
A symbol of the the Roaring Twenties, the decadent PalmCourt at the Plaza Hotel was one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorite New York haunts. He and Zelda stayed in the lavish hotel, and he set a key scene from The Great Gatsby there. It is also the setting for the Eloise children’s book series about a little girl who lives at the hotel. In keeping with its storied history, the Palm Court serves Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. For kids, there’s an entire Eloise-themed menu.
Where: Upper East Side
BemelmansBar at the Carlyle Hotel—a classic old-school cocktail bar dating back to 1930—is one of New York’s best hotel bars. It’s named for Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeline children’s books and artist for The New Yorker, Vogue, and Town & Country. Instead of getting paid for his work, Bemelmans painted the whimsical murals in exchange for room and board at the hotel for himself and his family for a year and a half. Visitors coming for a drink can admire his charming scenes of Central Park, ice-skating elephants, and picnicking rabbits.
OLD TOWN BAR
The OldTownBar has won many accolades and celebrated many milestones, including the 100th anniversary of its giant porcelain urinals in 2010. The bar features mahogany throughout, tin ceilings, classic black and white tiles, and New York’s oldest dumbwaiter, which carries food from the upstairs kitchen down to the bar. This unpretentious, dark bar on East 18th Street dates back to 1892, but has a clientele of modern literary greats. Patrons have included Frank McCourt, Seamus Heaney, Nick Hornby, and Billy Collins.
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