Maya Angelou admittedly booked a hotel room in every town she ever lived in, claiming that laying sprawled out on a hotel bed was the only way she could properly write. Toni Morrison was known to write on scraps of hotel stationery, while Oscar Wilde spent most of his career living in hotel suites. There’s just something about a comfortable retreat from the world that fosters a sense of imagination.
While we all admittedly feel a surge of creative energy and respite while enjoying the posh nooks and crannies of a five-star hotel, some of history’s most renowned creatives owe their legacy in part to these inspiration-evoking hotels across the globe.
Here are a handful of historic hotels that have proved to be inspiring for some of the greatest writers in history. From luxury lodging in London that Oscar Wilde called home to a beachfront resort in Jamaica that influenced Ian Fleming’s first Bond book, these hotels are sure to charm all genres of literature lovers.
The Ritz Paris, Paris
Noted as one of France’s most luxurious properties, the Hemingway Bar in The Ritz Paris was named after its most noteworthy patron, Ernest Hemingway. The novelist spent much of his time in the hotel bar and legend has it that the hotel concierge once uncovered two years-missing suitcases that were filled with notes and papers that eventually became ‘A Moveable Feast.’
The Plaza Hotel, New York City
Legend has it that beloved novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald took a spontaneous night swim in the Pulitzer Fountain outside this posh New York City hotel. As such, Fitzgerald even set the confrontation scene in The Great Gatsby inside an unspecified room at the Plaza Hotel on a hot summer afternoon.
Belmond Cadogan Hotel, London
As Oscar Wilde’s former pied-a-terre, the 54-key property feels more like a cozy, upscale residence than a luxury hotel. If you’re looking to take a walk in Wilde’s shoes, be sure to book the Royal Suite, which still includes parts of what was historically Wilde’s home-away-home.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City
Known as the landmark of Quebec City, the storied Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has been mentioned in countless books about the capital of Quebec. The most noteworthy may be Willa Cather’s novel Shadows on the Rock, which she envisioned while sitting in the tea room of the hotel. The views of the river and architecture of Quebec’s old town was the main inspiration for the historical novel.
The Chelsea Hotel, New York City
Set in the historic New York City property in the ‘70s, anyone who has read Patti Smith’s Just Kids will recognize the Chelsea Hotel immediately. The coming of age story captures New York at its artistic prime and the Chelsea Hotel is at the art of the metropolitan love story.
Raffles Singapore, Singapore
This iconic 133-year-old property has welcomed dozens of international literary icons over its storied history with Rudyard Kipling, being perhaps the writer who was most influenced by the posh property. Kipling featured Raffles Singapore in his book, From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel, which showcased his travels around the world circa 1889.
Jamaica Inn, Ochos Rios
Dreaming of a trip to Jamaica’s impossibly blue waters? Pick up a copy of Ian Fleming’s first Bond book, Dr. No, where Fleming describes Jamaica Inn’s bar as “the place to be seen on the island.” The hotel owners maintained a close friendship with Fleming over the years and still possess telegrams from Fleming thanking the property for its hospitality.
InterContinental the Willard, Washington, DC
The Willard InterContinental has played host to an impressive list of beloved novelists and writers. Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman have all checked in. Roald Dahl lived at the Willard for a month while moving to DC and Nathaniel Hawthrone once described the hotel saying, “This hotel, in fact, may be much more justly called the center of Washington and the Union than either the Capitol, the White House, or the State Department.”
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Monaco
The storied Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo once hosted Sir Winston Churchill—who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. His presence made such an impact on the property that the hotel named the private lounge of the Michelin-starred Le Grill restaurant “Salon Churchill,” named after Sir Winston Churchill himself.
Manoir Hovey, North Hatley, Quebec
This premium retreat in Quebec’s Eastern Townships shares a story with the world-famous New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny. In her fourth novel A Rule Against Murder, the murder-mystery writer included Manoir Hovey as a main character: the fictional village of Three Pines revolves around Manoir Bellechase, a picturesque retreat inspired directly by the North Hatley estate.