Last week Rick and I drove up the coast to meet family in Lincoln City, Ore. Although we could have easily made the drive in one day, we chose to spend the night in Newport at a hotel we’ve stayed at before.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel is located on scenic Nye Beach and has only 20 rooms, each one dedicated to a well-known author. Every room’s decor is unique, furnished in details that reflect the author’s work and personality.
Sylvia Beach Hotel’s accommodations are grouped by category. In descending order by price they are: The Classics, with fireplaces, decks and sweeping ocean views (Agatha Christie, Mark Twain and Colette themed rooms); Best Sellers (Steinbeck, Alice Walker, Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, Dr. Seuss, Tennessee Williams, Lincoln Steffens, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Melville, Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling and F. Scott Fitzgerald); and, Novels (Tolkien, F.L. Stevenson, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein). Each room has a private bath, some rooms have more than one bed, but none has a television, phone or Wi-Fi.
Sylvia Beach is a hotel for book lovers. When we checked in I was about half way through “The Paris Wife” a novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. It was the perfect book to take upstairs to the library and finish in the cozy surroundings that speak to the same time period.
The Hemingways lived in Paris in the 1920s and had many friends including Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the story Hemingway borrows books from the original Sylvia Beach, an American who opened an English language bookstore and lending library in Paris called “Shakespeare and Company,” popular with ex-pats. She befriended aspiring writers and published James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in 1922.
The Hemingway room was occupied, so we spent the night for the second time in the Tennessee Williams room with its white wicker furniture, lush potted palm, comfortable bed covered in gauzy mosquito netting and a menagerie of glass figurines on a shelf near the door. The door opened with a large brass key but did not have a number or say “Tennessee Williams” on it. It was simply marked “Stell-A” after the character in Williams’ 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
A stay at the hotel isn’t complete without dinner in the downstairs restaurant, Tables of Content. Each table is set for six and served family style. Rick and I sat with other guests from Everett and Tri-Cities, Washington and Eugene, Ore., who had all been to the Sylvia Beach before. In fact, one woman was returning after 22 years.
The three-story hotel does not have an elevator, but there is a friendly resident cat and a staff that welcomes you like family. The lobby is also a gift shop with old photo post cards of the authors and pen and ink drawings of the various rooms.
I’ll admit The Sylvia Beach Hotel isn’t for everyone – but it’s certainly a very special and romantic place if you’re looking for something right out of a book.