Are you a literary lover looking for the perfect hotel getaway? Look no further than the Pacific Northwest in the United States. Sylvia Beach Hotel, located in Newport, Oregon, is a 95 year-old establishment that pays homage to famous literary authors of the past and present. The hotel is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
While the building hasn’t been a hotel for its entire existence, it’s one of the only hotels in the world that pays homage to authors, writers, and lovers of literature. From the room decor, to the lack of TVs, to the third-floor library, it is the perfect hotel getaway for those who love books.
Not enough? Here are 8 spectacular reasons to visit the Sylvia Beach Hotel:
1. The elaborate room decor
Imagine this: a couple of your very close friends just bought a hotel and told you they wanted to make it all literary themed. Then imagine that they gave you a budget and asked you to decorate one of the rooms. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ernest Hemingway. J.R.R. Tolkien. Dr. Seuss. Agatha Christie. Mark Twain. J.K. Rowling.
That’s exactly what happened at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. All of the rooms are decorated in honor of a different famous author and the fantasy worlds they created. Check out more information on the rooms, see more pictures and read about my favorites in my separate post on the Sylvia Beach Hotel rooms.
The Jules Verne room and the J.K. Rowling room
2. The Tables of Content Restaurant
Not only do I get giddy every time I say the name of this restaurant, but it is such a unique and exquisite dining experience! Tables of Content is a family-style dinner only, meaning you sit at a large table with other guests staying at the hotel and get to know one another. It’s the same concept as if you’ve ever been on a cruise. The nice thing about these tables — other than meeting lovely strangers — is that everyone is quite smitten with books. We had a great table conversation!
3. Quiet spaces
There is no wi-fi in this hotel. No televisions. No radios.
There is, however, a lot of blissful silence with a hint of ocean waves in the distance. It’s the perfect place to start working on your first great novel, work on your edits to your next great novel, write down all your thoughts, or simply grab that stack of books that has been building on your nightstand and spend a week reading through all of them.
4. The third floor library
To complement the “no TV, no WiFi, complete quiet” ambiance of the hotel, there is a library on the top floor overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Couches, easy chairs, lamps and a large fireplace adorn this open area, and a second floor “attic” has hundreds of books, games, and puzzles to borrow if you don’t bring your own book or if you’re looking to make some new friends. Just off the library is a small kitchen with an array of coffee and tea choices, and a hot water tap! It’s basically everything you need for optimal reading and/or writing time!
5. Hot spiced wine
Around 9:30 p.m. every night after dinner, two pots of the most heavenly delicacy were brought up to the library: hot spiced wine. Imagine the most picture-perfect vision of Christmas. Then imagine that as something you could drink. That is hot spiced wine.
I could not wait for 9:30 to roll around every night. Whether I was chatting with new friends or in the middle of a good book, hot spiced wine made my evenings at the Sylvia Beach Hotel something to look forward to, and something I missed when I left.
I even did a little research to get the recipe! All it takes is:
- 2 bottles of red wine (your choice)
- 1 bottle of white wine (your choice)
- 2 oranges
- 1 piece of ginger
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- brown sugar
Mix the ingredients, let it simmer together on the stove for about an hour, strain and serve. Check out a similar recipe HERE.
6. The ocean views
The hotel is located right on Nye Beach in Newport. From the third floor library and the breakfast hall / Table of Contents restaurant, you will have spectacular ocean views – perfect for both welcoming the day and capping off the night. If you choose to stay in the one of the luxury “classic” rooms (Collette, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie), you can also get great oceanfront views.
View of the ocean from the third floor library
7. The meaning behind the hotel name
Up until about six months before my trip to the hotel, I had no idea that Sylvia Beach was an actual person. I made this discovery during a tour of the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia where a fantastic tour guide showed me all the rooms of the house, including a rare books library on the top floor. I noticed throughout the tour that the guide mentioned the name, Sylvia Beach several times. My initial thought was, Hey, just like the name of that literature hotel I’ve always wanted to see in Oregon! But in fact, Sylvia Beach was an actual person who had a significant role in the history of literature.
Sylvia Beach’s legacy in the world of literature should be revered. Born in 1887, Sylvia was an American-born bookseller who spent the majority of her life in Paris, including during Nazi occupation in the 1940s. She founded the famous bookstore and safe haven for writers in Paris – Shakespeare and Company – and published the first copies of James Joyce’s tome, Ulysses. She also sold some of Hemingway’s first books.
Sylvia Beach is known in history as the defender of literature. Knowing about her life and legacy only made my visit to the hotel of the same name even more meaningful.
Sylvia Beach with James Joyce
8. Meet fellow literary lovers and writers
I met so many amazing people during my 3-night stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Most of them bested my age by about 30 years, but no matter. I shared lovely moments and conversations with people from all walks of life, who came to the hotel for the same reason as me: to be surrounded by peacefulness and a shared love of literature.
During my third day at the hotel, I ventured up to the library in the middle of the afternoon, noticing that the door to the kitchen was closed. I was the only one in the library. After half an hour of reading, I got up to make myself some tea. When I opened the door, two middle-aged couples were sharing four bottles of wine and a cheese plate. They invited me to join them and we shared travel stories and laughed as the wine bottles were slowly drained. While I may never see them again in my life, I had a wonderful time getting to know them — while eating free cheese and free wine — and unique experiences like that are some of the best moments you can ask for in a trip.
I highly recommend the Sylvia Beach Hotel, not just for the literary fanatics like me, but for anyone who is looking to decompress, to “turn off” from the world of technology for a while, for anyone who’s ever had an idea they’d like to get down on paper but never found the time, or anyone just looking for some nice peace and quiet. A hearty breakfast is included in your room fare, and — if you really need it — there is a great coffee shop called Cafe Mundo just a block up the road that has WiFi.