Here is the second part of our series of book-and-hotel pairings for the literary traveler, a look at some of our favorite hotels that are connected—either historically or conceptually—with a classic work of literature. A few weeks ago, we recommended Guy de Maupassant on the Left Bank of Paris, Edith Wharton and Richard Price in New York, and Evelyn Waugh in London’s East End. This time we’re going a bit further afield, to Mexico City, the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, Barcelona, and the enigmatic Russian capital of Moscow. Happy reading, dear travelers.
Stay: DOWNTOWN MEXICO
Read: THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES by ROBERTO BOLAÑO
Though it was published in 1998, Roberto Bolano’s masterful semi-autobiographical novel, “The Savage Detectives” is set among the literary bohemia of mid-1970s Mexico City, a world Bolaño himself inhabited as a young avant-garde poet. This world can be felt just outside the doors of Downtown Mexico, a bohemian-chic Grupo Habita property in the teeming heart of Mexico City’s downtown housed in a 17th-century colonial house, one of the only residences in the area that still maintains this particular Mexican viceregal style.
Stay: ROOMS KAZBEGI
Read: THE PATRICIDE by ALEXANDER KAZBEGI
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, a singular retreat built on the site of a former Soviet worker’s retreat in Stepantsminda, the sleepy capital of Georgia’s Kazbegi region, takes its name from the family of the renowned Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi. The great-grandson of feudal magnate Kazibek Chopikashvili, Kazbegi studied in Tblisi, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow, but on returning home, decided to become a shepherd to experience the lives of the local people. He later worked as a journalist, and then became a novelist and playwright. His most famous work, the novel “The Patricide,” tells the story of a heroic Caucasian bandit named Koba, who, much like Robin Hood, is a defender of the poor. The setting of the novel—a historical region of northern Georgia around the Kazbek mountain known as Khevi—overlaps almost exactly with the current setting of Rooms Kazbegi, a dramatic terrain of deep green verges, snowcapped peaks, and craggy Caucasian highlands where traditional Georgian life goes on as it has for centuries.
Stay: STANDART MOSCOW
Read: SOLARIS by STANISLAW LEM
In designing the retro-futuristic interiors of the StandArt Hotel Moscow, artist and designer Stanislav Tratsevskiy took inspiration from classic science fiction, like the works of Isaac Asimov, the 1982 movie “Blade Runner” and “Solaris,” Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s brilliant 1972 film adaptation of the 1961 philosophical science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem. Both the book and the movie take place on a space station orbiting the fictional planet of Solaris, and the interiors of the Russian capital’s first Design Hotels™ property can also feel like a floating, detached aesthetic environment, creating a unique hospitality experience unlike anything that’s come before (and the perfect place to dive into Lem’s novel).
Stay: GRAND HOTEL CENTRAL
Read: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by AGATHA CHRISTIE
When Pau Guardans, the man behind Grand Hotel Central, decided to transform a 1920s-era office tower in Barcelona’s medieval El Born neighborhood into a hotel, he took inspiration from the building’s era of origin, the golden age of travel when Agatha Christie populated the zeitgeist. “That was really the years of those grand hotels sprinkled across Europe–the Orient Express and so on,” explained Guardans. Thus the Grand Hotel Central—with its wrought irons lamps, stone floors, bronze doors, and elegant neoclassical stairway landings—is the perfect place to read Christie’s classic 1934 crime novel, which follows Belgian detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a murder in the lavish first-class compartments of the iconic Simplon-Orient Express. The rooftop infinity pool does break the historical ambience a bit, but we don’t think you’ll mind.