Do you know the last time I went away for a few days with my husband? October 2014. For five days and four luxurious nights, we stayed on the maternity floor of our local hospital. I was recovering from a scheduled C-section. “Mostly Wonderful” slept in the hospital bed next to me. He made sure I didn’t trip over my catheter and fed me orange jello. Ain’t love grand? I was long overdue for a trip to The Library.
My husband and I recently had two back to back work functions. You know, the kind that requires me to put on my wig, wear non-yoga pants and have my makeup professionally done. (This blind chick can’t do eyeliner. I know my limitations). So when I spontaneously suggested that he and I spend one night at the ultra swanky Library Hotel in New York City; he was all for it. In fact, I never saw a man so eager to call his mother to recruit our babysitter for the night.
We had talked about staying at the Library Hotel for years. My husband doesn’t work far from its Madison Avenue location and we are both avid readers. The hotel has a collection of over 6,000 books all organized by the Dewey Decimal System. Ten floors contain over 60 rooms, each one adorned with books and art that represent the category it belongs to. Located steps away from some of the most amazing landmarks including Grand Central Station, the NYC Public Library, Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, the hotel is like a well-kept secret tucked discreetly between rows of stone buildings.
I have to admit; I was slightly nervous about navigating a hotel room with my visual impairment – especially a place called “The Library.” I mean you have to be pretty dense not comprehend the irony of the situation. You know, a blind woman walking into The Library? I was anticipating the same reaction I get when I venture into Barnes and Noble. People always seem to wonder why a visually impaired person would frequent a place filled with books that they cannot read. Just because I can’t see doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy places dedicated to the literary world. And FYI braille and audiobooks do exist.
Nerves aside, I thought it would be best to call The Library and let them know they should be expecting a blind woman as one of their guests. I spoke with a front desk employee, Nick, who was extremely polite, courteous, and helpful. The hotel staff refers to themselves as “Librarians” and they make it their mission to ensure every guest has a wonderful experience during their stay. Nick calmed all my fears regarding my disability and promised the staff would do everything in their power to make sure my room was prepared, safe, and easily accessible.
When he inquired if he could do anything else to make me feel more comfortable during my trip I asked if he could possibly arrange an in-room make-up application. Three phone calls later, Nick was able to pull off what I thought would be impossible. He found a make-up artist willing to come to my room before my husband’s work event to help me look fabulous.
When “Mostly Wonderful” arrived at The Library, he had to drop me off to attempt to find parking for our car. “You go check us in,” he said. With the help of the doorman, Vincent, I was directed to the front desk and instantly recognized Nick’s voice. They were indeed ready for my arrival, rolling out the red carpet treatment. But do you want to know the best part? It was pretty obvious I wasn’t being treated special because I was blind. How do I know? Because several other people were at the front desk each being treated with the same level of sensitivity and respect that I was being given. I wasn’t the awkward blind woman sticking out like a sore thumb in front of a bookcase filled with books she couldn’t see, I was simply Mrs. Bonner, a guest at the hotel.
Vincent took me up to the 5th-floor Dinosaur Room. Seriously, we absolutely could not have gotten a better theme for our room considering Nuala, our three-year-old, is dinosaur obsessed. The rooms are fairly small, about 275 square feet. Our particular room had a king-size bed (hey, go big or go home, right?), a closet, a bathroom with a tub, and a desk-like wall unit that held a small television. Let’s face it, folks, two toddler free adults aren’t spending the night in this hotel to watch Netflix. Do you get where I am going here?
There was also complimentary wine and rose petals set up on a small table. A personalized welcome letter greeted us. I had told the hotel that we were visiting for business and to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary a little early. They took the opportunity to help create a little extra romance in our room. (Much appreciated, my Librarian peeps).
When my husband finally arrived in our room I was already wearing the complimentary robe and slippers. “Don’t you want to go out to dinner?” he asked. Uggh! I was kind of hungry, but I really just wanted to bask in my big city glory. I did, however, manage to get dressed and grab an umbrella so my husband and I could get a bite to eat preferably in a restaurant that did not supply paper placemats and crayons.
After a great dinner near Times Square, we just walked around together. We held hands and talked (and not just about the kids). We passed Steinway and Sons, a famous piano store, where my husband described the colors of the baby grands behind the windows. We walked through the theater district and he read the posters of the actors in some of the Broadway shows. We got hot tea in Starbucks before heading back towards our hotel.
It was a cold, wet, and dreary day, but I didn’t care. I was having a great time reconnecting with my favorite fella and with the city that I had almost forgotten since losing my eyesight and becoming a mother.
Before we walked back into “our” Library, we decided to visit the “other” NYC Library. Although the building was closed by the time we got there, my husband and I walked through the gorgeous stone archways of the main branch on fifth avenue. It’s a building I’ve seen many times before both in person and in movies, but it always seems to amaze me; as do the stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, that guard its doors. Gazing up at these magnificent stone creatures, you can’t help but feel small in the busy city that surrounds you.
With dinner over and sightseeing done, we went back indoors. Before heading back to the Dinosaur Room, we decided to explore the 14th Floor Writer’s Den and Poetry Garden. As someone who fancies herself a blogger, I could not wait to take a peek at this space. By day, this area serves as a quiet rooftop terrace. By night, it transforms into Bookmarks Lounge, a trendy bar with literary-inspired cocktails. The views are spectacular and the leather chairs and cozy fireplace made for a perfect spot to warm up after our rainy walk.
Back in our room, I quickly took advantage of the beautiful tub by having a long-overdue bubble bath. I actually took “3” during that trip. Yes, I said three! Hey, I’m a mom, I deserved them!
After each one, I jumped back into that soft cottony robe that had been placed in our room. My husband and I slept together on a wonderfully soft mattress till 8 am without the sound of a crying baby or a toddler’s foot in either of our faces. It was as close to heaven as you could have imagined for this blind mother of two.
Thanks to Nick, my makeup artist arrived by 10 am the next morning and made me look pretty damned hot if I do say so myself. With a 1 pm check out time, I was sad to say farewell to The Library and its Librarians. However, duty called and I had to assume my role as a wife for my husband’s professional event.
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover.
The hospitality I received at this hotel reminded me you should never judge a book by its cover. The Librarians treated me just like any other guest and that feeling of relative normalcy only enhanced my experience.
I have no doubt we will venture back to The Library someday soon. This little romantic getaway reminded me of just how much I needed time to reconnect with my husband and with myself.
If you’re ever in NYC and looking for a great place to spend the night, I highly recommend The Library Hotel. No reading is required. Let the Librarians take care of all your needs. You won’t be disappointed.