On the day I checked into the Library Hotel, Mother Nature was NOT cooperating. The heavens unleashed a deluge of rain. Tropical storm almost seemed an understatement for such inclement conditions. It was as if a monsoon had overcome the fair isle of Manhattan, but the courteous and attentive hotel staff quickly rescued me—the bellhop collected my valise; the front desk manager swiftly checked me in; and the concierge invited me to join the wine and cheese reception awaiting me on the mezzanine. Upon entering my room, this inviting welcome was only further enhanced by the awaiting basket of red wine and imported chocolates. It was a veritable safe haven coming in from the torrential downpour into a warm, dry, cozy retreat.

A mere stone’s throw from Bryant Park, the Library Hotel is one of midtown’s most celebrated concept properties. Once a twelve-story office building, the eighteenth century brick and terra cotta structure reopened on August 7, 2000 after a million-dollar renovation and refurbishment project. The landmark treasure was transformed into intimate luxury accommodations and redesigned to feel more like a private club than a hotel. An oasis of modern elegance, the hotel’s hospitable team provides a thought-provoking experience to sophisticated travelers with a passion for culture and individual expression. The quaint 60-room hotel is located on Library Way at Madison Avenue and 41st Street, just steps from the majestic New York Public Library. The rooms are elegantly simple and comfortable, decorated in rich cream tones with mahogany doors and cabinetry, polished granite-topped desks, and potted orchids. The aptly titled Library Hotel is notably home to more than 6,000 books; each title was carefully selected from the Strand Bookstore, which carries the city’s largest collection of used and rare books.

Each of the hotel’s ten guestroom floors is dedicated to a major category of the Dewey Decimal System including: the 300’s, representing Social Sciences (Communications, Economics, Law); the 400’s, which are devoted to Languages (Romance, Germanic, Asian); the 500’s, covering Math & Sciences (Mathematics, Botany, Astronomy); the 600’s, encompassing Technology (Advertising, Manufacturing, Computers); the 700’s, illustrating The Arts (Architecture, Music, Fashion Design); the 800’s, which focus on Literature (Classic Fiction, Poetry, Mystery); the 900’s, highlighting History & Geography (20th Century History, Ancient History, Geography and Travel); the 1000’s, incorporating General Knowledge (Almanacs, Journalism, New Media); the 1100’s, personifying Philosophy (Logic, Ethics, Philosophy); and the 1200’s, embodying Religion (Eastern Religion, New Age, Ancient Mythology). Each of the well-appointed guestrooms has been adorned with a collection of art and books relevant to one distinctive topic within the floor category where it resides.

Framed black and white images, memorabilia, and ephemera exemplify the ambience of this hotel’s historically nostalgic decor. I stayed on the seventh floor (the 700’s) in the Music Room adjacent to the Fashion Room. The musical spirits of Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra almost seemed to haunt the corridors. As the consummate opera lover, I was thrilled to find a vintage photograph of famed soprano diva Maria Callas in my suite! Additional amenities such as a DVD Player, MP3 docking station, flat screen television, personal safe, Egyptian cotton linens, down comforter, plush bathrobes, and slippers made my junior suite feel like a home away from home.  The sanctuary of the hotel’s reading room, the tranquility of the poetry garden, and the skylight rooftop bar with high-speed wireless all helped to elevate my experience to new heights!

Each of the HK Hotels is built around a unique concept. The Library Hotel is so much more than a booklover’s paradise with its Bookmark Lounge, American Bistro, and International Wine Bar. The Casablanca Hotel pays tribute to an unforgettable cinematic experience with its mystically Moroccan design accents. The wartime period references provide a fantastic setting and a wide array of classic and current DVD releases, alike, are available for visiting film buffs. The Giraffe Hotel conjures up images of a swanky 30’s supper club with its lofty ceilings and posh Gramercy Park address. This property is an ideal option for those travelers who would prefer to stay in a proper neighborhood, away from the bedlam and mayhem, yet conveniently situated, nearly equidistant between Soho and midtown. The Hotel Elysée is reminiscent of a countryside manor with its Anglo-Franco décor; toile upholstered settees, overstuffed sitting chairs, and elegant European sconces lend an air of weekend estate. These accommodations feel more like a weekend estate, except for the fact that the property is walking distance to MOMA, Central Park, and New York City’s shopping mecca along Madison and Fifth Avenues!

A special note of thanks to the courteous and attentive staff at the Library Hotel and HK Hotels, in particular Yogini Patel and Adele Gutman.

Images provided courtesy of HK Hotels.