Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inspiring Libraries, Part 2

As libraries seem to be a popular post on this site (you lovely readers are people after my own heart!), I thought I'd do another little post about some more inspiring literary spaces. Here are some of my favourite hotels that offer guests carefully curated collections of beautiful books. And beautiful spaces to browse them in.

The Hotel Le A (pictured below) is just about one of the most stylish little boltholes you’ll ever see in Paris. The result of collaboration between conceptual artist Fabrice Hybert and renowned interior designer Frédéric Méchiche, it was inspired by the shape of the Eiffel Tower (thus the ‘A’), and also the name of the street it sits on (Artois). Like its name, the hotel's interior is a picture of graphic simplicity. The lobby/reception is a slash of black while the bar and dining room is a whisper of white – a contrast of tones that results in pure architectural poetry. But by far the most irresistible space is the library, a elegant, licorice-coloured room graced with more than 300 books on design and fashion. No wonder the place is loved by magazine editors and photographers, particularly during Fashion Weeks. A place where pure minimalism meets maximum glamour, Le A is, to use well-worn cliché, a little bit of ooh la

The Mercer (pictured below) is one of those typical New York hideaways that looks so edgy, you daren't go in. But don't let the facade and the A-list stars put you off. (The lobby is literally littered with them.) It's a surprisingly relaxed hotel with a surprisingly easy-going atmosphere. Even when the celebrity guests have a little hissy fit (as Russell Crowe did when he threw a phone around – yes, it's that hotel), the staff barely blink a professional eyelid. My favourite space in the hotel is not the restaurant (wittily named The Kitchen), or even the suites, but the lobby. Designed with an enormous floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with art, design and fashion tomes, it's the kind of reception where it's a sheer pleasure to wait for someone, be it a guest or a friend for a lunch date. (I confess that I often get there half an hour before an appointment, just so I can flick through the latest fashion volumes!) (Image courtesy of Mercer)

Sleek, minimalist and utterly surprising. If the cranberry-red swimming pool and matching umbrellas don’t hook you in, then the extraordinary architecture will. The all-white library (the only shots of colour are the book spines) is simply sublime. (Pictured below) As the old saying goes, read it, and weep, er... sleep. (Image courtesy of The Library Hotel)

I haven't had the pleasure of travelling to this lovely hotel (pictured below), but I've heard so many fab things about it that it's high on my list. Particularly since I've learned that it has a fantastic library of 1,2000 titles, hand-picked by Philip Blackwell of the bookselling dynasty. The library is the inspiration of owner Gordon Campbell Gray, who, when he first opened the hotel, solicited lists of “Top 10 Beach Reads” from friends and travel editors. He then went and bought them for guests to read, and the library grew from there. There's nothing worse than being bored while on vacation but here, you don't need to worry. Just fill your bedside table or poolside stool with a pile of titles, ask the bartender for a cocktail fill-up, and sit back in literary heaven. (Image courtesy of Carlisle Bay)

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