Literary Hotels

Samet Çevik (Bandirma Onyedi Eylül Üniversity, Türkiye)

A literary hotel is a lodging facility consisting of multiple levels, where guests can rent rooms for a temporary stay and have the option to include meals. What sets it apart is its unique association with literature (Silva, 2022a). As the global presence of themed hotels continues to expand, there is a concurrent rise in the number of literary hotels that are crafted around exceptional literary themes. Although seen as a product of literary tourism, literary hotels represent a broad category encompassing unique products and experiences. Literary hotels welcome literary tourists who embark on their journeys with diverse motivations and provide specialised experiences tailored to their interests. According to the results of Çevik's (2022) content analysis study, five distinct categories of literary hotels have appeared: “Literary-themed hotels”; “hotels associated with an author”; “hotels dedicated to an author”; “hotels associated with a fictional work or a character”, and “library hotels”.

Literary-themed hotels meticulously select a literary element, such as books, poetry, authors, letters, pages, narratives, storytelling, writing places, quotations, or expressions, as the central theme and incorporate it into the design of the entire hotel. These establishments seamlessly merge the worlds of literature and art, prioritising design, architecture, and creativity. The harmonious synergy between literature and art acts as a magnet, attracting tourists to these hotels with motivations driven by curiosity and the yearning for a remarkable and memorable experience.

The second category – hotels associated with an author – aligns with the first category of Butler’s (1986) classification of literary tourism, known as the aspect of homage to an actual location. These hotels serve as establishments where renowned authors once stayed, penned their literary works, and left a lasting legacy in the hotels' rooms, restaurants, or bars. Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, J.K. Rowling, Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, James Joyce, and Marcel Proust are only a handful of the many authors on this list. In contrast to the hotels in the remaining four categories, the hotels within this category were not originally conceived as literary hotels. Still, over time, they have embraced the legacies of the renowned authors they have hosted, earning the distinction of being recognised as literary hotels. In these hotels, it is customary for the rooms that accommodated famous authors to be named in their honour, and the room designs are thoughtfully inspired by their literary works, quotes, authentic personal belongings, or replicas of these items. Undoubtedly, the most significant motivation for literary tourists who prefer these hotels is to find traces of the authors. Like other literary places associated with authors, authenticity, establishing a connection with the author, and a sense of nostalgia are prominent expectations in these hotels.

Hotels dedicated to an author fall under the third category. They are establishments where a specific author is chosen as the central theme, and the entire hotel is meticulously designed around that theme. All kinds of details that are associated with the author, such as the author’s works, the settings, characters, quotes, and themes in their works, as well as the author’s hobbies, friends, and even favourite drinks, are being reinterpreted with an artistic concern to design hotels. These hotels that have started operating recently are not linked to the author’s real-life experiences. Examples of authors selected as themes in this concept include Fernando Pessoa, Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, Alexandre Vialette, Marcel Aymé, Arthur Rimbaud, and Jules Verne.

The hotels in the fourth category of literary-inspired establishments are attentively crafted, with a keen focus on integrating elements from fictional works or characters in their design. Crime and Punishment (F. M. Dostoevsky), Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling), The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Marcel Proust), Eloise (Kay Thompson), and The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (Edward Lear) are among the main fictional works chosen as themes for literary hotels. According to Herbert (2001), these hotels, which belong to the second category of Butler's (1986) classification of literary tourism focusing on fictional works, are places capable of conjuring the strongest imagery in people’s minds. These hotels also function as an outcome of film-induced literary tourism, as proposed by Busby & Laviolette (2006) as the sixth category within the realm of literary tourism. The reason is that the fictional works, which are commonly selected as themes for these hotels, have also been adapted into films. It is accurate to say that the visibility of these hotels has been further enhanced due to films, which facilitate the broader reach of fictional works to audiences. Alternatively, considering it from another perspective, the heightened recognition of the fictional works resulting from their film adaptations could have influenced the hotels’ choice to incorporate those specific works and characters as thematic elements. The main motivation for literary tourists who opt for these hotels is to relive the fictional work, this time, as a part of it. As a result, these hotels must make interpretation choices that harmonise the hotel's design with the imaginative visuals that literary tourists conjure while reading the book, encompassing the essence of the fictional work comprehensively.

Library hotels constitute the fifth category of literary hotels. A library hotel is a themed establishment that revolves around books and literature, offering temporary accommodation to its guests while providing direct access to a library (Silva, 2022b). While it is common for hotels to have a collection of books, simply having a library does not classify a hotel as a library hotel. In the case of library hotels within this category, the libraries are characterised by their extensive collection of books, occupying a significant area within the hotel. A library hotel can be purposefully designed as a standalone library or possess unique features such as autographed books, rare editions, author-specific collections, and international book collections. These establishments guarantee remarkable experiences for book enthusiasts who seek to indulge in the joy of spending time with books.

Literary hotels are the meeting point of literature and art, seamlessly integrating authors' works, themes explored in their writings, vividly portrayed characters, quotes from their masterpieces, book covers, and other elements closely connected to the authors into the hotel’s decor through professional and artistic presentations. By displaying these works of art in hotel rooms or common areas and skillfully incorporating them into the hotel’s decor, an artistic ambience is established, which makes the hotel stand out for its exceptional aesthetic appeal. Moreover, literary hotels can organise artistic events, offering guests memorable experiences through inspiring activities such as poetry recitals, author meetings, literary workshops, exhibitions, and various other enriching gatherings.

Literary hotels welcome literary tourists with various motivations, offering unique and tailor-made experiences. They go beyond literature and incorporate elements including art, creativity, architectural design, historical significance, and cultural heritage, enriching the tourist experience. Therefore, it is appropriate to assert that literary hotels transcend being mere lodging for travellers and instead become the essence and purpose of the journey.

How to cite this dictionary entry: Çevik, S. (2023). Literary Hotels. In R. Baleiro, G. Capecchi & J. Arcos-Pumarola (Orgs.). E-Dictionary of Literary Tourism. University for Foreigners of Perugia.

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