If you were strolling through the quaint section of Newport,
Ore., known as Nye Beach,
past the galleries and wine shops and espresso cafes, you might be attracted to
a waterfront inn called the Sylvia Beach Hotel. You might find its shingled
turquoise exterior with bright white trim appealing or you might appreciate the
welcoming flower garden or the historic architecture. You might assume that the
scenic, sandy stretch of shoreline in front of the hotel was named Sylvia
Beach, and further assume that is how the hotel got its name. But you would be
wrong about those last two points, and bibliophiles know why.
Who Was Sylvia Beach?
Born in the late 1800s, Sylvia Beach was an American expatriate who made her
home in France,
where she established an English language bookstore known as Shakespeare and
Company. Her Paris
store and lending library became a sort of salon for dozens of noteworthy authors
and voracious French and English readers. She was acquainted with Ernest
Hemingway, James Joyce, Thornton Wilder, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, and many
more important authors of the era.
About The Hotel
The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a 20-room oceanfront bed and breakfast accommodation
intended as a quiet retreat. Each guest room has a literary theme; most are
named after a novelist and decorated to reflect his or her life and/or work.
To maintain a tranquil, "simple-pleasures" atmosphere, there are no televisions,
radios, or telephones in the hotel rooms, and no wi-fi.
The spacious, cozily furnished library is a major feature of the hotel. The
entire west-facing (oceanfront) side of the third floor is devoted to this
comfortable, book-filled place. It provides the ideal place to read (or write)
The Great American Novel, hoist a pair of binoculars and whale- (or storm-)
watch, or doze off and dream of Paris. A small adjacent coffee room has coffee
and tea supplies (and mulled wine most nights!), and an assortment of games and
Those Crazy Rooms
The most memorable feature of the inn is its themed
rooms. From the spacious, two-bed Agatha Christie with its sweeping ocean view,
fireplace, and private deck to the humble Gertrude Stein with its garden view
and double bed, each is a clever tribute.
Most rooms at the hotel have an ocean view. Only three are considered
"oceanfront," with expansive views: Mark Twain, Colette, and Agatha Christie.
These are referred to by the proprietors as the "Classics," and are the more
expensive rooms. Thirteen of the rooms are referred to as "Best Sellers." These
mid-priced rooms all have ocean views north toward Yaquina
Head and its lighthouse. They include Alice Walker, Amy Tan, Dr. Seuss, Emily
Dickenson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, Jane Austen,
J.K. Rowling, Lincoln Steffens (the only non-fiction author featured in the
hotel at this writing), Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, and Virginia Woolf. Beds
in the Best Sellers range from double to king, and décor ranges from restful
(Melville, others) to over-the-top (Dr. Seuss). (I'm sort of glad they got rid
of the Edgar Allen Poe room, with its above-the-bed faux-axe "pendulum" and its
large stuffed raven.)
Finally, the four rooms known as the "Novels" are without
ocean views, but bargain-priced and as clever as the rest: Gertrude Stein
overlooks the garden from the second floor, Oscar Wilde has a trundle bed in
addition to its twin bed (making it ideal for two singles on a budget) plus a
"secret" roof access with view, Robert Louis Stevenson is handicapped
accessible and has garden view and access, and J.R.R. Tolkien has a queen bed
and patio/garden access.
Tables Of Content Restaurant
The cleverly named restaurant offers optional fixed-priced dinners to both
guests and non-guests at an extremely favorable price. Menus are delicious and
inventive, and tables are shared with other guests, in groups of six or eight. It's
the perfect way to round out a day of relaxing on the beach and consorting with
your favorite authors -- fine dining with like-minded, well-read travelers!
If I seem unabashedly enthusiastic about the whole Sylvia Beach Hotel
experience, I'd have to say "guilty as charged." This place is a reader's and a
Sally O'Neal is a travel writer who profiled the Sylvia Beach Hotel and 300
other B&Bs in "The Unofficial Guide to Bed &
Breakfasts and Country Inns in the Northwest" © 2002, from Wiley Publishing,
Inc. She revisited the Sylvia Beach Hotel in the summer of 2012.