Oregon is very much en vogue these days, with Portland staying weird and a major push for millennials to establish their equally weird lives in a low-profile state that has never garnered a ton of attention. But I’m not here to talk up the whole state, just a very small corner of it on the coast: the literary themed Sylvia Beach Hotel, a unique place to stay in Newport, Oregon for all of the booklovers out there.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel- A Literary Themed Hotel
The Oregon Coast is famous for its beaches, its cliffs and rock formations, and its truly spectacular ocean setting. The Sylvia Beach Hotel happens to take in all three of these crowd pleasers and then adds a twist that really strikes a chord with a certain group: the book lovers. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a literary themed hotel, located inside an old three-story inn from the days of yore.
Perched on a cliff overlooking Nye Beach, an artsy, hippie hamlet in the heavily touristic town of Newport, the oceanfront location is definitely part of the attraction. The Sylvia Beach has drawn my mother and I back to it multiple times, and all the way from Canada; that’s like a 7-hour drive!
Looking for a Unique Place to Stay in Newport, Oregon?
But wait, let’s go back to the theme: Literature, books, authors! For any book-lover-reading-nerds out there, and I know there are many of us, this place is for you! The Sylvia Beach Hotel is not just a place to stay, but a destination in itself.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel Rooms
Each room at the Sylvia is themed a different author, and depending on availability, you can book your favourite. Love the glamour of Gatsby? Stay in the Fitzgerald room! Do you have a favourite between Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny Price, Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood? Well you must chill out with Jane Austen! More of a Cat in the Hat fan? No fear, Dr. Seuss is well represented; there is even a fish in the toilet bowl. (Though for the record, my fave is Anne Elliot)
Regardless of the author, each room is decorated with all of the exacting care and detailed attention that these great literary talents would deserve.
Rooms are broken down into three categories: Best-Sellers, Classic, and Novels, and depending on amenities and the views offered vary in three levels of pricing. There are three rooms with full on 180-degree sea views, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, and Colette. Twain has a bust of himself and a claw foot bathtub, while the Christie room is full of clues and Colette’s is a whimsey French seaside’esque chamber of romance 😉
Depending on you and your party (I 100% recommend the Sylvia Beach as a girls getaway, a romantic weekend, or a personal healing retreat!), you can choose between so many options: Shakespeare, Melville, Hemingway, Dickinson, Steinbeck, Tolkien, and do not even get me started on the J.K. Rowling room. If it’s ever been your dream to go to Hogwarts (and really who hasn’t had that dream), a couple nights in the Rowling room may just suffice! And yes, Hedwig lives eternal at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.
Another part of the Sylvia: you will want to see all of the rooms. When rooms are not booked out, the staff leave the doors open to vacant rooms so everybody can check them all out. When it comes to your own room, don’t be a room Scrooge, like that little girl the first time we went who wouldn’t let me see the Rowling room. LET ME SEE THE HARRY POTTER ROOM!!! That child was for sure a Slytherin.
Unique Place to Stay in Oregon for Booklovers
Mom and I have now been to the Sylvia Beach Hotel three times, each progressive stay for a longer duration. The first time was just for a night and we stayed in the Jane Austen room; the second time for three nights and we were with Emily Dickinson. The last time we had 4 nights and split our time between the Melville room and then the J.K. Rowling room. Dreams really do come true.
My favourite room we stayed in? Sorry Jane and Harry, but probably the Melville room. It is very nautical and the fixtures are lovely, but it also has a lusciously huge King sized bed. Which when you’re sharing with Mom, is always welcomed!
The Experience at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, Newport
But as I said, it’s not just about the Hotel, it’s the experience! As the Sylvia Beach is devoted to relaxation through reading, the entire ocean front of the third floor is a communal reading room, full of books and puzzles, comfy chairs and couches, soft though effective lighting, and even a wood burning fireplace. Looking up from your book to the crashing waves just beyond the glass is enough to make anybody fall in love with this place.
Sylvia Beach Hotel Restaurant – The Table of Contents
Beyond reading and relaxing, what else do I love???…Oh right, EATING! On the ground level of the hotel is the dining room, a restaurant named the Table of Contents (so clever), that serves a daily delicious breakfast for all patrons included with your stay as well as optional, pre-ordered dinner, served at 7pm.
Dinner at the Sylvia Beach Hotel restaurant is a lovely experience, not only because the food is delicious and plentiful, but as the seating is family style, you actually have to talk to other people. And lets be real, anyone who goes out of their way to stay at a literary themed hotel is probably going to be pretty interesting. There is a suggested ice breaker to get the conversation going, or you all just start talking about which rooms you’re in and you go from there.
The most common question in the Sylvia Beach Hotel is: “Which room are you in?”
The first time Mom and I stayed, we signed on for the dinner at the Sylvia Beach restaurant, having no idea what was coming. We ended up eating with 6 other people, all of whom turned out to be wonderful and fascinating. Conversation went from books to work to travel and life, no need for that icebreaker, though the kitchen staff did need to shoo us out two and a half hours later!
Nye Beach, Newport Oregon
Now to the beach! A short walk around the cliff from the Sylvia and you will find yourself on Nye Beach. Nye Beach is the kind of wonderfully flat, perfect walking beach that the West Coast is famed for. It is also completely open ocean, so the waves crash the way Melville always intended. Between the waves, the kites, and the dogs, on a nice day a walk along this beach is perfection.
Then again, on days that are not so nice, the location of the Sylvia Beach is still awesome. Being a tall, old building right on the ocean, the hotel itself feels the weather the way modern buildings just cannot. During our last trip to Newport in November, the storm season was raging and the swells coming up on the beach were a true sight.
Glad to be warm and toasty inside the Sylvia, listening to the wind whistle and even shake the hotel slightly, was a true Oregon Coast experience. Maybe that is what made sleeping in the Melville room so experiential. Historic hotel, whaling boat, so many similarities…
Sylvia Beach Hotel- A Place to Unplug
In each room, there are the complete works of the themed author, as well as guest books of visitors from days past. Reading through these guest books, the Sylvia Beach Hotel is somewhere people come to feel safe, to heal, and to restore from their lives.
If you come with an agenda, you might as well throw it into the ocean; there is no Wi-Fi at the Sylvia Beach and cell-phones must be on silent in the common areas.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel gives you a chance to unplug, to escape into the pages with Gertrude Stein, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Ken Kesey, or Alice Walker, and to envelope yourself fully in a haven of comfort, quiet, and contemplation.
And if you can’t bring yourself to put down the books or get off the couches and barely leave the hotel, don’t be ashamed. That’s what makes the Sylvia Beach Hotel so unique. I can’t wait to go back to do nothing again next time!
Important Information about the Sylvia Beach Hotel:
There is no Wi-Fi. Don’t whine about it, it’s awesome.
No cell phones allowed in the common areas.
There is a Sylvia Beach Hotel cat who lives full time on site. She will visit you, and if you let her, cuddle in bed with you.
There are no fridges in the rooms, but there is a communal fridge in the equally communal tea/coffee/puzzle room. Wine!
If you opt out of the on-site dinner, there are some great eateries within a 5 minute walk of the hotel, just ask the front desk. The Irish pub down the street has Wi-Fi.
There are deals throughout the year, mainly in the off-season and mid-week. If you can swing it, try to take advantage of these specials.
We get really lazy when you arrive at the Sylvia Beach, but that’s not to mean there are not a ton of things to do and see along the Oregon Coast. So you if you’ve never been to the Oregon Coast before, you really should get out a see if a bit of it!
Room themes do change, so don’t take the authors I have mentioned here as current fact. Visit the website or contact the Sylvia Beach for the latest options.
The Sylvia Beach is an adult oriented hotel. On the Sylvia Beach Hotel website they state very politely that it is “Not suitable for very young children”.
I lack such tact. Please do not bring your young, energetic, rambunctious (read: LOUD) children. I’m sure they are lovely little humans, but the Sylvia is not the place for them. Plus, I do not want to listen to them. The youngest child we have been there with was 4, and she was very annoying. There was another child who was 8, and she was totally fine. You know your own kids; use your judgment and consideration for others. Same goes for adults with attention deficit issues and the inability to sit still.
How to Get to the Sylvia Beach Hotel
Located on the Central Oregon coast, Newport, is about 2.5 hours drive from Portland. The two routes are:
- South along the I-5 and cutting west on Highway 34
- The more scenic route, leaving the Southbound I-5 at Tualatin on Highway 99W. Take a left when you hit the ocean at Lincoln City.
We have done both ways, the latter is definitely more pleasant. Depending on road conditions, the I-5 may be faster!
Have you been to the Sylvia Beach Hotel? Which room did you stay in? If you were to design a room, which author would you design it after?
Note: I took these pictures over three different stays at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, over a span of 4 years. My Mom and I barely age as you can see, but our hair does change length. Mom is especially pleased to have such a cool picture of her front and centre.
Note 2: I did not receive any form of payment (financial or in kind) for this post.