Hotel Histories

Chateau Marmont, the Plaza, the Ritz, the Savoy: these names denote luxury and excess. These iconic hotels provide a unique way to look at the histories of the cities they inhabit. These buildings saw history unfold in their rooms, each one evolving beyond their initial raison d’etre. 

Each of these books focuses on one such establishment, whether taking a deep historic look at the building itself or using it as a springboard to look at the wider world the hotel inhabited. 

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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free

The Barbizon became the residential hotel of choice for many of the most celebrated women artists after it opened in 1927, including Sylvia Plath, Liza Minelli, and Joan Didion. The legendary hotel provided a place for these women to thrive and live on their own. Paulina Bren touches on these luminary figures, along with the women whose time at the Barbizon was not all dreams realized. It wasn’t until 1981 that men were allowed in, forever changing the landmark of female independence. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel

Its most famous resident was Eloise, the beloved children’s book heroine, but the guest list extends much further. From its opening in 1907, the Plaza has remained one of the most storied building in New York. Its shift from a luxury hotel to residential condominiums, many bought by shell companies hiding ill-gotten gains, is a distinctly American story. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

The Secret Life of the Savoy

A richly detailed history of London’s famed (now defunct) Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre, spotlighting three generations of the founding D’Oyly Carte family. The book, full of appropriately dramatic anecdotes about the famous faces that walked through the Savoy’s doors (or, in Bob Dylan’s case, were turned away), charts the high stakes history of the luxury destination that left an indelible mark on London society. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.