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8 Destinations: Cocktails @ the library

Posted by Delia Cabe  September 16, 2011 09:55 AM

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Libraries hold a certain cachet. So much so that people will go for dinner and cocktails in places that seem like libraries, but aren't. (Note to libraries: Consider adding a cocktail hour to the menu in your cafes. That hour could be genteel, civilized, no sawdust on the floors, with more, though not rowdy patrons.)

Around the world--in cities, on tropical islands, in small towns--there are bars that want to be associated with all things library. Bar hoppers, meanwhile, can say they're going to the library and sound literary. Yeah, euphemism, with a wink-wink. Hotels are especially fond of naming their lounges "Library Bar," perhaps because it seems homier, alhough not everyone's home library is mansion-worthy. Nevertheless, it's nice to hang out surrounded by expensive bookshelves with tomes stacked neatly, a world away from the Ikea ones filled with dust back home.

Library bars come in several designs: from the stodgy old world look--leather-bound volumes, wing back chairs, dark wood, fireplace--to the all-out hipster take on a library, Moleskine notebook not included.

In New Zealand, the owners of The Library Bar want you to think of it as both a reading room and lounge bar. Its menu is called "Readers Digest."


You can enjoy a James Joyce novel while downing a pint of Guinness in this Library Bar in Dublin.

A Four Seasons Resort in the West Indies invites you to sit by the fireplace and smoke a Cuban cigar in its library bar.


The Library Bar at the Leela Hotel in Bangalore has gone for the British colonial look, "a throwback to the times of the Raj," its website states.


The Library Bar, Leela Hotel, Bangalore

In New York City, The Brandy Library is filled with bottles, not books. This bar features rare spirits, spirit sommeliers (spirit librarians?) and, yes, food. Bartenders climb wooden rolling ladders, the kind you see gracing the shelves of rare book collections, to reach upper shelves. (Hat tip to a librarian friend for telling me about this place.) The bar looks like a plush den. Bring your own book.


The Brandy Library, New York City

Another option in New York City is The Library Hotel, which is located at Madison Ave. and 41st Street aka "Library Way," a block away from the New York Public Library. The sidewalks of Library feature bronze plaques with quotes from writers. You can see the main entrance of the city's iconic main library from the hotel's rooftop lounge, Bookmarks. The 10 guest floors have been assigned the corresponding Dewey Decimal number and category.

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Eighth floor, The Library Hotel, New York City

Bookmarks Patio, The Library Hotel, NYC (inside, Bookmarks Lounge, with fireplace & books)

Library Way, East 41st St., New York City

For those who dream of escaping to a different sort of island with a stack of books, this place may be for you. The Library Hotel in Thailand claims to have the "biggest library for beach resorts." Who knew that category was in contention? Think how much lighter your suitcase will be! The "Library Unit" is by the swimming pool, which is tiled in red. The color choice could be a play on words--get it? read?--but that might be lost on many guests. Alas, only English speakers would understand. The resort's restaurant is called The Page.

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Above photos, courtesy of The Library, Koh Samui, Thailand

If you prefer, you could pretend you're leading the life of Gaelic royalty. Although not called a library bar, this hotel bar is situated in the former library of a castle that dates back to the 5th century in Ireland. The estate looks magnificent.

Cocktail Bar, Dromoland Castle, Clare, Ireland

Last week at the Dinkytown, Minn., Library Bar, people had a few words with each other and a fight broke out. I suspect the broken nose did not result from a dispute over someone's interpretation of a poem.

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About the author

Delia Cabe's work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Self, Prevention, Scientific American Presents, and other publications. In between posts, you can read Cabe's tweets at!/DeliaCabe, More »

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