When recently opened Florida hotel The Ben West Palm chose best-selling American author Byrd “Birdie” Spilman Dewey as its muse, it committed to bringing many facets of her legacy to life. The glamorous interiors recall her see-and-be-seen parties, while the hotel’s pet-friendly policies reflect Dewey’s love of animals. But The Ben’s latest activation might be its most straightforward homage yet: In partnership with The Palm Beach Book Store, the property recently introduced a Book Butler program, through which guests can grab complimentary copies (to take home!) of a rotating selection of books, including a permanent spot for Bruno, Dewey’s 1899 book about a dog’s adventures in Florida.
For The Ben, this is a tangible way to highlight its literary connection while simultaneously helping out a celebrated local business. (The books might be free to guests but they were all purchased by the hotel to support the bookstore.) “Our guests love storytelling, and this allows us to engage with them on a deeper level,” says general manager Bernardo Neto, who adds that a small dining menu as well as on-site author readings have been developed to align with this initiative. “Plus, they light up when they see the Book Butler walking around with a tray stacked with books.”
The Ben isn’t the only one promoting its bookish bona fides. The Hoxton in Chicago is hosting a pop-up of Black-woman-owned bookstore Semicolon, featuring works by POC storytellers. Similarly, Tucson’s Hotel McCoy invited the online store Barrio Books to transform one guest room into its first physical location; its shelves are stocked with tomes that focus on the Latinx experience. And Washington, D.C.’s Hamilton Hotel has initiated programs including gifting guests with new releases courtesy of Penguin Random House. The hotel is currently collaborating with indie bookstore Politics and Prose on a lobby shop.
On a larger scale, Kimpton Hotels has partnered with Literary Hub on an activation offered at 31 properties. Quarterly initiatives built around timely themes (March celebrated contemporary literature by female authors and June is all about amplifying LGBTQ voices) will see Kimpton locations like The Everly in Los Angeles and the Armory in Bozeman lend guests titles selected by Lit Hub editors. A virtual, open-to-all book club on Facebook has been home to author question-and-answer sessions and moderated discussions.
“Through this program, we hope to further elevate unique voices and viewpoints and encourage discussions reflecting the times we are all living in,” says Kathleen Reidenbach, Kimpton’s chief commercial officer. “Our hope is that this partnership and these books will help people feel inspired and more connected.”