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March 17, 2023

The Best Luxury Literary Hotels Across the World

Notions of the struggling artist are dropped at the doorman-fronted entrance.

By Bea Isaacson

Vagabonds by nature of their craft, writers have been curating and creating their own worlds throughout the story-studded generations of human history. In a not dissimilar vein, some of the greatest stories of the past centuries have been penned in homes away from homes, with hotel establishments acting as both base and inspiration for literary greats internationally.

Some hotels have served as unofficial headquarters of sorts for various art movements, with lobbies and bars acting akin to a smokier, dimly lit watering hole to which the like-minded flock. Others boast suites that writers have holed up in as a non-committal residence in the city of their muse, the effects of which is reflected in their art.

And with these luxury literary hotels remaining just as alluring in their elusive glamor today – with, naturally, the added intrigue of the retrospective bohemia that surround these traveling writers – experiencing the world through the lens of the artists that so meticulously detail it is a sublime joy.

Naturally, the hotels listed provide the utmost echelon of luxury offerings. From the finest service to Michelin dining, connotations of the struggling artist are dropped at the doorman-fronted entrance.

Whether to experience a city in the same vein as the writers that so define it or simply to stimulate personal inspiration for stories of your own; here is Elite Traveler’s list of the best luxury literary hotels across the world.

[See also: Fascinating Art Hotels from Around the World]

The world’s great literary hotels

University Arms, Cambridge

University Arms luxury literary hotel salon
The Regency-era hotel pulses with romance and subtle glamor / ©University Arms

With an amber-hued bar that hosts live jazz on weekend evenings and a dark oak-lined library room that is just as wonderful to read the morning papers as it is to take afternoon tea, the University Arms hotel is as timeless in its effortless ambiance as it is authentic in its historical weighting.

First built in the Regency era, the hotel has been recently redesigned by celebrated designer Martin Brudzinski in a style that celebrates the English eccentricities and East Anglian warmth that renders Cambridge such an unmissable destination within the country. Pulsing with the romance and glamor of the intellectual icons that have passed through the town, suites are named after various writers associated with Cambridge, from Virginia Woolf to Stephen Hawking.

A genuine love of literature abounds. Instead of music, the toilets play audiobooks, and our standout feature – the deliciously thoughtful Book Butler – gifts guests a book of the hotel’s recommendation, based upon a small list of favorite novels one provides when booking.

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Cap du Eden Roc, French Riviera

Hotel Cap du Eden Roc poolside
Where Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound sunbathed / ©Oetker Collection

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his final novel Tender is the Night, “stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people.” He was, of course, talking about the iconic Cap du Eden Roc.

From Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso to Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich – in fact, the hotel was where the latter embarked on her affair with Joseph P Kennedy – Cap du Eden Roc has been a magnet for writers and artists across the world since it first opened in 1870, and has remained a pillar of the luxury literary hotel scene since.

Synonymous with the dark glamor that surrounds these titans of 20th-century culture, the French hotel still maintains its romantic fabric of whimsical gardens, elegant pillars, awing oil paintings and meticulous service. The Riviera spot of choice for Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, the Mediterranean sun and salty breeze of the sea is sublime luxury of the old school that hosts both the party and the precedent to write about it afterwards.

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Raffles Singapore

Raffles Singapore inside patio luxury literary hotel
Raffles Singapore was built in 1887 in the then popular colonial style / ©Raffles Singapore

Upon first sighting, Raffles Singapore is so enchanting in its magnificence that it feels somewhat otherworldly. Framed with palm trees, the tall and handsome hotel is built in the British colonial style, and still exudes that effortless elegance and allure that has made it so popular with international tourists throughout its centuries-long history.

Writers in particular have been drawn to the spellbinding splendor of the hotel. Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad frequented Raffles Singapore when in the region, and Somerset Maugham was a particular fan, writing that the hotel “stands for all the fables of the exotic East.”

And yet Raffles Singapore is also that rarity of being both home and inspiration to not just Western writers residing in the Far East, but Asian writers too; fans will recognize it is the setting for Ryu Murakami’s Raffles Hotel. Don’t miss the Writers Bar, located in the lobby; a homage to the hotel’s literature history, the tall and glittering bar is the perfect spot to escape the Singapore heat in which the drinks menu is presented in a style akin to a travel journal.

[See also: The Best Travel Coffee Table Books]

Gritti Palace, Venice

Gritti Palace Somerset Maugham suite
The Somerset Maugham suite / ©Gritti Palace

Positioned across the Grand Canal to Salute church, the Gritti Palace was first built in 1475 for Doge Andrea Gritti and has exuded almost unrivaled luxury of the ever-enchanting Venetian style since. At the Gritti, it is not a matter of attracting just writers, but attracting absolutely everyone that can successfully secure a bedroom in one of the city’s most acclaimed hotels.

From the floor-to-ceiling French windows to the truly astounding collection of artwork, this is an absolute treasure trove of Italian culture and history that has seen artists flock to the hotel for full immersion. With guests including Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham and Peggy Guggenheim – and actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – the Gritti honors their patronage by naming some of its finest palatial suites after them.

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L’Hotel Paris

From French legends Victor Hugo and Honore de Balzac to Americans in exile that flocked to Gertrude Stein’s legendary parlor, the City of Lights has welcomed writers to its winding cobbled streets for centuries.

The French capital today heaves with the intellectual and creative legacy left by its generations of writers, who turned to the city for inspiration as much as they did for a chosen home. Perhaps there is no greater example of the latter than L’Hotel, where Oscar Wilde resided until his death. In honor of the great Anglo-Irish wit, the luxury literary hotel has named its spacious Oscar Wilde suite after him, in which the large private terrace is a gorgeous spot for some tranquility in the bustling city.

With Serge Gainsbourg, Salvador Dali, Jim Morrison and Frank Sinatra among its large arsenal of historical guests – and the Michelin-starred Le Restaurant to boot – L’Hotel is mere minutes away from the famous Shakespeare & Co, an unmissable stop on any bibliophile’s itinerary.

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