6 Of The Most Storied Hotel Literary Bars in New York City

New York is a city that is associated with lots of different labels, but one of the many labels associated with it is literature. It has always been known that writers tend to get their best ideas while sipping on a libation so why can’t you? These literary havens are places to feel comfortable opening up a good book and enjoying a drink without the stuffiness and pretentiousness of the many other New York bars.

Here are the 6 most storied hotel literary bars to visit in New York City.

Blue Bar (Algonquin Hotel)

The Algonquin Hotel became the hot meeting place for well-known journalists, writers, and actors throughout the 1920s. This special group of people in the arts began calling themselves the ‘Algonquin Round Table’, referencing their meeting place at the Algonquin Hotel’s bar, the Blue Bar. Members of the group would meet up at the bar almost daily to discuss ideas around endless meals and many rounds of drinks. A few members of the round table included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and The New Yorker magazine founder Harold Ross.

The Algonquin Hotel opened up in 1902 and is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan, near Times Square. The hotel was originally built to be a residential building but as time progressed, it was turned into a hotel. The Algonquin Hotel is famously known for selling the famous $10,000 martini at the Blue Bar. The $10,000 martini is a classic martini but the twist is that guests can coordinate with the hotel’s in-house jeweler on choosing the perfect diamond to be added to the martini so when a guest is looking to propose or celebrate an event, the drink has the diamond in it as a surprise! The martini is served on a silver platter, served by a white-gloved waiter to the recipient.

Read our feature article about the history of The Algonquin Hotel

Read reviews of The Algonquin Hotel on TripAdvisor

Bemelmans Bar (Carlyle Hotel)

Bemelmans Bar, located at the Carlyle Hotel, is named after the author and illustrator of the classic children’s books, Madeline. It has been said that Ludwig Bemelman created the Madeline character right on the back of a menu! The bar features Ludwig Bemelmans’ original wall murals and bar lampshades which paid tribute to Central Park. Bemelman created the murals in exchange for free hotel stays at the Carlyle Hotel for the next year and a half.

The Carlyle Hotel opened up in 1930 and immediately struggled due to the recent 1929 market crash. The hotel was able to offer affordable rates and eventually, the hotel’s reputation increased quickly to finally being labeled as a luxury hotel. The hotel is designed in art deco style and the hotel was named after essayist Thomas Carlyle. Since being owned by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in 2001, the hotel is a cooperative with 190 hotels and suites, along with 60 private residences.

Read out feature article about the Carlyle Hotel

Read reviews of The Carlyle Hotel in New York on TripAdvisor

Bookmarks Bar & Lounge (Library Hotel)

Bookmarks Bar & Lounge is located on the rooftop at the Library Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The decor of the bar is filled with luxury patio furniture, a mahogany fireplace, and a breath of literary running through the bar. There is a wrap-around terrace which is quite similar to a high-class New York City penthouse fit for a novelist. The bar features book-themed drinks such as Tequila Mockingbird and The Pulitzer to indulge in your novel fantasies. There is wall to wall of novels to choose from to read while you are enjoying the many fantastic drinks to order.

The Library Hotel is a boutique hotel located near the New York Public Library and the famous Bryant Park. A unique feature of the Library Hotel is the themes that are on each of the ten floors at the hotel. The themes are designed after a major category of the Dewey Decimal System, such as a floor themed for Mathematics and another for Music. Each room has 50-100 books that accompany each of the floors themes, with over 6,000 books throughout the entire hotel.

Read reviews of The Library Hotel on TripAdvisor

Raines Law Room (The William Hotel)

Raines Law Room is located at the William Hotel on East 39th Street and features a speakeasy-style bar with books lined all around the library room. The mood is set with a fireplace, furniture, and a quiet atmosphere to give it that true library feels. The bar features many drinks from the Pear of Aces to the classic James Bond drink, The Vesper, along with unalcoholic drinks to sip while catching up on a book you brought along with you or from choosing a book from the many books available in the room. The bar has a special entrance and that is through The William Hotel’s other bar called Shakespeare Bar. From Shakespeare Bar, you must be taken via a secret staircase to reach Raines Law Room.

Raines Law Room is located at the William Hotel on East 39th Street and features a speakeasy-style bar with books lined all around the library room. The mood is set with a fireplace, furniture, and a quiet atmosphere to give it that true library feels. The bar features many drinks from the Pear of Aces to the classic James Bond drink, The Vesper, along with unalcoholic drinks to sip while catching up on a book you brought along with you or from choosing a book from the many books available in the room. The bar has a special entrance and that is through The William Hotel’s other bar called Shakespeare Bar. From Shakespeare Bar, you must be taken via a secret staircase to reach Raines Law Room.

The William Hotel was once home to the Williams Club since 1924, which was a private social club in New York City for the most prestigious arts school, Williams College. The William Hotel is six-stories high and has gone through multiple interior restorations to bring it more up to date. The hotel features a brilliant restaurant called The Peacock which serves up British cuisine which is one of the best in the city. The William Hotel is not only in walking distance to Grand Central Station but Times Square and 5th Avenue are only a 10-minute walk, making it a perfect place to stay when visiting New York City.

Read reviews of the William Hotel in New York on TripAdvisor

The Library Bar (The NoMad Hotel)

The Library Bar, located within the famous NoMad Hotel is one of the highlights of all of the hotel’s amenities since it has opened. The bar is set upon a two-story library with a 24-foot mahogany bar. The setting can be very intimate with the many sofas and club chairs. The room has a spiral staircase which came directly from the South of France, to allow guests to explore the two different levels in the bar. Books are lined from floor to ceiling throughout the bar, stocked with an array of literary interests to accommodate all guests. The bar has won national and international awards for their outstanding cocktails, like the amazing Gentlemen’s Exchange which has Suze, rye, vermouth, amaro, coffee, bitters, and absinthe.

The NoMad Hotel is located in none other than the MoMad neighborhood of New York City. The NoMad’s sister location is in Los Angeles. The hotel was designed by French architect Jacques Garcia to give it a “Portland-meets-Old Europe style.” The hotel has twelves floors, along with five bays on each side of the building. The NoMad was built in 1902 and was originally called the Johnston building after the first owner, Caroline H. Johnston. The NoMad is also very famous for their Michelin star NoMad restaurant, which serves European-American foods. Their most famous dish is their roasted chicken stuffed with foie gras and truffles.

Read reviews of The NoMad Hotel New York on TripAdvisor

The Library (The Hudson Hotel)

The Library is located within The Hudson Hotel and styled after an old English drawing room, the bar features endless collections of books ranging from theater, fashion, travel, and politics. There are comfortable couches located throughout the bar and the lighting is dim, creating a romantic and calming atmosphere. There are even chess tables available to guests who would like to take on another guest to a game. If the weather is nice and warm, there is an outdoor area with benches, tables and chairs, and plants to fill in the surroundings. The bar creates a fun adult-only spiked Sno-Cone. The Sno-Cones come in four different flavors such as Coconut Lychee and Double Chocolate.

The Hudson Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel located on West 58th Street, within walking distance from Central Park and Lincoln Center. The hotel was built in 1929 by Anne Morgan, who was the daughter of J. P. Morgan, as the American Woman’s Association clubhouse for women. The American Association eventually went bankrupt in 1941 and the building was then turned into The Henry Hudson Hotel. In 1997 the hotel was purchased by Morgans Hotel Group and went through a three-year renovation process, including changing the hotel’s name to The Hudson Hotel. The Hudson Hotel has been featured in many different TV shows such as Sex and The City and Gossip Girl. 

Read review of The Hudson Hotel in New York

Discover more Storied Hotels of New York by author Dalia Cabe

Want to know what it’s like to pull up a stool with the likes of Hemingway, Updike, or Capote? Curious how Jay McInerney takes his martini, or where to find Colson Whitehead’s favorite neighborhood bar? For well-read drinkers and boozy bookworms everywhere comes Storied Bars of New York, a photographic and historical celebration of the best literary pubs, cocktail bars, and taverns of New York City. Every chapter profiles an influential bar and comes complete with photographs, a laundry list of the writerly clientele, a recipe for the establishment’s signature cocktail (as well as which authors were likely to order it), and a snapshot of its place in New York culture at the time of its eminence, as demonstrated by quotes from authors and excerpts from magazine reviews.

In a city where there is almost too much to explore, this guide will make finding your favorite erudite-cool drinking spot that much easier.

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