Who’s Staying in Virginia Woolf’s Room?

Nestled against the edge of Nye Beach—the northern, less commercial part of Newport, Oregon—is the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Sylvia Beach, the hotel’s namesake, was a Baltimore transplant, bookseller, and publisher who opened the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris in 1919. This bookstore became the official hangout of famed American writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a bed-and-breakfast that houses twenty-one rooms, each of which is decorated with a specific author in mind—right down to the fireplaces and claw-foot tubs. There’s no Wi-Fi, no TV, not even telephones for room service. It’s a full immersion into another time, when the written (or typewritten) word carried more weight than a tweet.

Built in 1912 and renovated in the 1980s, the hotel has just enough squeak in the stair and just enough musty book smell in the reader’s attic to give bibliophiles the chills. Rooms are categorized as either “Classics,” “Best Sellers,” or “Novels.” Mark Twain’s bust sits over the mantel, Jules Verne’s submarine door clangs shut every evening, and Shakespeare’s room has dueling swords mounted on the wall, just in case.

It’s perfect for a writer’s retreat or a solitary writer’s escape, as well as for hosting a reading, a book launch, or a writing workshop. And can we talk about the library?

To give you an idea of what the Sylvia Beach Hotel has to offer, here’s a description from their website:

This is truly a hotel for book lovers. There are no TVs, radios, or telephones in the rooms and no Wi-Fi. It is a quiet place on most days. Except for the glorious storms. Then the wind howls, the building shakes, and the rain pounds down. Some days it’s warm and sunny and the sky is bright blue. Some days there’s morning fog. Some days the wind makes you stay inside and read! Some days are rainbow days, the weather just can’t decide. The ocean is always present (the hotel is on a forty-five-foot bluff right above the surf). You move into the rhythm of the sea. Perhaps that’s why time seems to slow way down, almost to a standstill.

If you find it difficult to choose your favorite room, mull the decision over at dinner. Every night is different at the Tables of Content Restaurant, located on the first floor of the hotel. Enjoy a four-course meal prepared with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Dine with the guests and discuss literature, politics, death, or your favorite poem. With an ocean sunset, rich wine, and good company, you’ll be begging to stay the night. Don’t expect an online reservation. The old-fashioned theme carries over into their books—yes, actual handwritten reservation books. This experience is one of a kind and a mere two-and-a-half hours from Portland.

The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a tribute to an exceptional publisher and supporter of writers worth believing in, but this place is also dedicated to book lovers, page folders, bookmark hoarders, wannabe Hemingways, and moody Virginia Woolfs. It’s a love letter to books, a haven for the peace and adventure that comes from stepping into the mind of another for a little while.