Literary Travel: From Hobbit Motels to Bronte Country
When you travel, you don’t become a whole new person - you carry your interests with you. That’s why some people plunge themselves into daredevil adventure travel and others plan their trips around wildlife-spotting.
Bookish travellers often go off on their own specific bent - whether that’s hunting out hotel rooms lined with books, going on literary pilgrimages to significant spots, or staying in places that are aligned with their favourite books or authors.
Here are just some literary travel experiences you might like to try.
Bookish hotels: Hobbit habitats, the Algonquin and more
Want a truly unique hotel experience? The Hobbit Motel in Waitomo, New Zealand, lets you enter the world of Bilbo Baggins, set deep in Tolkein (or Jackson) country. And though it looks like a film set from the outside, it’s surprisingly normal on the inside, with all the creature comforts you’d expect.
If you’re looking for a bookish base in New York, the Library Hotel might suit your tastes. Each of the 10 guestroom floors honour one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System and the rooms are well stocked with books. There’s a Reading Room, a Writer’s Den and Poetry Garden, and the Bookmarks Lounge serves literary-inspired cocktails.
Or if you want to stay where the centre of New York literary action once was, try the Algonquin Hotel, home of the famous Round Table - the hub of literary industry and wit back in the 1920s. Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Edna Ferber and others gathered on a daily basis to exchange ideas and opinions. It was at the Round Table that the New Yorker was founded - these days, the magazine is available free to guests of the hotel.
The book-themed Rex Hotel in San Francisco is a perfect place to immerse yourself in books between exploring the city. Once a bookstore, it still hosts literary events - and the decor features lots of bookshelves, vintage typewriters, and portraits of great authors. Guests can opt to donate a dollar each night to Dave Eggers' non-profit 826 Valencia.
Tours: From murder walks to Beatrix Potter’s cottage
In St Petersburg, you can take various Dostoyevsky tours of the city, visiting the places he lived, wrote and studied. There’s also a half-hour walk in the area inhabited by his characters from Crime and Punishment, where you can ‘follow the murder route from Raskolnikov’s house to the house of the Pawn Broker’.
Sweden boasts the Stieg Larsson Millennium Tour, for fans of his bestselling Millennium trilogy. The two-hour starts on the island of Södermalm, at Bellmansgatan 1, the home of the main character, Mikael Blomqvist and you walk your way through key locations in the books: bars, cafes, and of course, past Lisbeth Salander’s apartment. The tour ends at the Stockholm City Museum, with a Millennium exhibition.
When in England, many literary enthusiasts with classic leanings choose to take tours of Austen, Shakespeare or Dickens territory. One enterprising tour operator has grouped some of tthose interests, with the Jane Austen/the Brontes/Beatrix Potter Tour. Travel from Chawton, where Jane Austen wrote her first four novels, to Beatrix Potter’s cottage in the Lake District, to Haworth Parsonage, where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote.