Check-In Time: Visit 5 of Literature’s Most Famed Hotels


From cheap motels to isolated inns, hotels have long provided writers with both story setting inspiration and a place to hide away. Following the news that the Grand Hôtel des Bains — Thomas Mann’s residence on the Lido and the backdrop for his novella Death in Venice — will close its doors to be converted into luxury apartments, we decided to find out which other literary residences have outlived the authors they inspired. Although the historical ties advertised by iconic abodes range from confirmed affiliation to apocryphal anecdote, these storied hotels are at least worth checking out — and, geography permitting, checking into.

Hotel Monteleone

One of only three US hotels designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association (The Plaza and The Algonquin being the other two), Hotel Monteleone was and is the center for Southern literary elite. William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams both described it as their favorite hotel, Truman Capote claimed he was born there (turns out his mother just lived there while she was pregnant), and writers from Ernest Hemingway and Eudora Welty to John Grisham and Stephen Ambrose have shacked up at the French Quarter hotel. Literary cameos: “Night Before Battle” (Ernest Hemingway);

(Eudora Welty);

(Tennessee Williams);

(Richard Ford)

Chelsea Hotel

A go-to residence for artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers for more than a century — many of whose non-monetary payments still decorate the walls — this infamous landmark has inspired as many scandals as it has stories. Dylan Thomas lived and died on the premises, poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso matched intellectual wits within its walls, Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there, and other literary guests (both short and long-term) have included Thomas Wolfe, Eugene O’Neil, and William Burroughs. Literary cameos:

(Joseph O’Neil);

(Dee Dee Ramone)

The Stanley Hotel

Although accounts vary regarding the basis for the Overlook Hotel — the isolated and endlessly creepy setting of Stephen King’s The Shining — it’s widely reported that King conceived the basic novel idea while staying at this out-of-the-way Colorado hotel with his wife. The Stanley Hotel’s Georgian style is just one of several accommodations that King reportedly drew from for his chilling house of horrors, but this is apparently where it all started. Literary cameo: The Shining (Stephen King)

Hotel del Coronado

Designated a National Historic Landmark since 1977, Hotel del Coronado is known as an otherworldly escape for tales of mystery and magic. Ambrose Bierce’s short story “An Heiress from Redhorse” draws on the Coronado’s ethereal beach-side locale and L. Frank Baum penned several sequels to his beloved novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while staying there. And more recently, sci-fi maestro Robert Matheson immersed himself in the life of his Bid Time Run protagonist by moving into the hotel while preparing to write the book. Literary cameos: “An Heiress from Redhorse” (Ambrose Bierce);

(L. Frank Baum);

(Richard Matheson)

Hôtel Ritz Paris

Inspiring a range of writers — from the Lost Generation greats to contemporary scribes like Bret Easton Ellis — Paris’ Hôtel Ritz, which was established in the late 19th century, is considered one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and is the oldest “Ritz” in existence. (It was also home to Coco Chanel for 30 years.) The hotel bar is named for Ernest Hemingway, while F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Greta Garbo all have suites named in their honor. Literary cameos: Tender Is the Night

(F. Scott Fitzgerald); The Sun Also Rises

(Ernest Hemingway); Glamorama

(Bret Easton Ellis)