World Book Day 2018
Vacation rentals where your favorite authors once stayed
If you love travel and literature, what better way to celebrate World Book Day (April 23, 2018) than by staying at a home once inhabited by your favorite author? Imagine reading “The Great Gatsby” in a classic 1920s-style hotel on the French Riviera – a hotel whose décor and legendary parties likely influenced Fitzgerald’s renowned novel? Or sipping a martini in the location where Ian Fleming first jotted down James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase?
We present a list of eleven vacation rentals where famous writers have once stayed. All of these homes can be found on our website, and can serve as inspiration for literature-lovers who also suffer from wanderlust this coming World Book Day.
As a quick refresher: World Book Day is an annual event that falls on April 23, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.
Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”) and Percy Shelley (“Ozymandias”): Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom
This elegant and stately country house, now a B&B, was once the holiday home of the famed English writer Mary Shelley and her husband, romantic poet Percy Shelley. Among Mary Shelley’s various works, “Frankenstein” is indisputably the most well-known. Travelers who love the Shelleys might be entertained by this tale: This historic house is where Percy Shelley dodged an assassination attempt. Legend has it that he was shot at from outside the drawing room window by a disgruntled local, one of many irritated with his outspoken views. After that, the couple fled the country and never came back to Wales. The Gwynedd National Park is a must-see for any visitor.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (“The Great Gatsby”): Nice, France
When looking for a way to consolidate your love for travel with your love for books, look no further than Nice. Famous writers like Hemingway, H.G. Wells and F. Scott Fitzgerald loved the city and its famous coastline. Fitzgerald, in particular, was a big fan of the French Riviera; he and his family were known to spend lots of time there. Fitzgerald preferred to stay at the Negresco, one of the oldest classical hotels. With this apartment for two, you can stay within the famous Negresco building without spending a fortune on the rooms, and still get the classic 1920s feel that Fitzgerald was exposed to (and likely influenced by) when writing “The Great Gatsby.” It’s known that the Negresco used to host lots of wild parties – a recurring scene in Fitzgerald’s most esteemed novel. If you’re looking for something intellectual beyond the beach and the parties, check out Nice’s wide variety of art museums. It’s worth noting that Fitzgerald’s contemporary and rival, Hemingway, also stayed here.
John Steinbeck (“Of Mice and Men,” “The Grapes of Wrath”): Pacific Grove, United States
As most of Steinbeck’s work is set in California, it should come as no surprise that the Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author owned a home in the Golden State. This Pacific Grove apartment belonged to Steinbeck in the early 1940s. He used it as a writing studio and worked on novels like “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” while residing here. Pacific Grove is on the very tip of the scenic, tree-shrouded Monterey Peninsula, which boasts a dramatic, craggy coastline and unbelievable ocean views. Besides the scenic beauty, the eclectic downtown has cute boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and more. Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are also half a mile away. Fun fact for Steinbeck lovers: The actual location Steinbeck was writing about in his famed novel, “Cannery Row,” was originally called “Ocean View Avenue.” It was later renamed “Cannery Row” in honor of the book.
Ian Fleming (“James Bond”): London, United Kingdom
Action-lovers and James Bond aficionados will surely enjoy a stay at the Dukes in London. Within this luxurious and sophisticated boutique apartment/hotel, travelers can enjoy a typical British high tea, or sip on classic cocktails at the elegant hotel bar. It was here that Fleming came up with James Bond’s famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred,” which still features prominently in James Bond books and films. To really feel like the secret agent himself, be sure to order the Vesper Martini. Book-loving travelers can also visit the nearby British Library, which is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued.
Sylvia Plath (“The Bell Jar”) and Ted Hughes (“The Thought-Fox”): Loubressac, France
Literary powerhouse couple Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were visitors of this beautiful, traditional two-bedroom original stone house in the tranquil rural village of Lacam de Loubressac. The property overlooks the Dordogne River, and the great 12th century castle of Castelnau de Bretenoux dominates the panorama below. This quiet, charming home, which boasts exposed beams, central heating, a wood-burning stove and an open fireplace is essentially one giant reading nook perfect for getting lost in both writers’ poetry, or to crack open Plath’s only novel, “The Bell Jar.” Once you’ve had your share of reading, rent canoes from one of the boating companies the Dordogne, for some outdoor exercise; bicycles can also be rented in nearby towns. Additionally, the pilgrimage village of Rocamadour is within a half hour’s drive, and its churches built among boulders and caves are worth exploring.
Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”): Tenby, Wales, United Kingdom
Book-lovers looking for a comfortable accommodation in which to relax, like Dahl did, may enjoy this cozy cabin where the British novelist used to spend time with his family. Holidays in Tenby with his Norwegian mother influenced him, what with her fascinating Nordic stories involving witches and trolls. These imaginative myths have therefore always marked his style of writing, full of unexpected and outlandish situations, especially in novels such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.” This seaside town is a holiday destination for people from all over the world, and its sandy shores, rows of multicolored houses and town walls make a perfect getaway from bigger cities. Close to Tenby, an evocative holy island is worth a visit: Inhabited by Cistercian monks, Caldey Island offers the perfect panorama in which you can lose yourself in a good book.
Miguel de Cervantes (“Don Quixote”): Barri Gòtic, Spain
Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote is probably one of the most famous books worldwide and the author influenced the Spanish language so much that modern-day Spanish is sometimes referred to as “la lengua de Cervantes” or “the language of Cervantes.” This luminous apartment is a celebration of this renowned author: Situated in one of the most beautiful areas in Barcelona, it was here that Cervantes lived and wrote for a couple of years. The rental, catalogued by the UNESCO as Artistic Heritage of the XVth century Catalan Gothic style, was completely reformed and turned into a duplex conserving the old stone walls and arches. The area around the apartment, Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter), seems to be made especially for book-lovers: you can stop by the Sunday book market at Carrer Comte d’Urgell or have a coffee at the Café Els Quatre Gats, originally a meeting place of bohemian authors (artists like Gaudi and Picasso).
Gustave Flaubert (“Madame Bovary”): Pont-l’Évêque, France
This comfortable holiday home, on the shores of an 80-hectare lake, was the former residence of French naturalist author Gustave Flaubert, best known for his worldwide masterpiece “Madame Bovary.” The greenery sprawling around the house, as well as the serene lake, make the perfect environment for reading outside and basking in nature’s glory. If you can pull yourself away from your book, be sure to visit the Normandy Natural Park and also get to Rouen, the writer’s birthplace. There you’ll find the museum dedicated to the author.
Nikos Kazantzakis (“Zorba the Greek”): West Mani, Greece
This charming seaside house built in the late 19th century has its own story to tell. Between 1917 and 1918 the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete lived here. This is where the original story of his world-famous book “Zorba the Greek” took place. The plot is partly inspired by Kazantzakis’s own life and focuses on a young man who works in a mine. The mine where Kazantzakis himself worked is only a few miles from the house. So is the beach where the famous “Sirtaki scene” from the movie with Anthony Quinn takes place. The rental offers a calm and private atmosphere in which one can relax and unwind, and houses between four to six people.
Paul Auster (“The Book of Illusions”): Azenhas do Mar, Portugal
The postmodern author and director Paul Auster spent some time in this spacious villa in Lisbon while filming “The Inner Life of Martin Frost.” His works are influenced by psychoanalysis and transcendentalism; therefore, some recurring themes are coincidence, failure and metafiction. This holiday house is surrounded by the magnificent gardens and is close in proximity to the 19th-century architectural monuments of Sintra, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors may easily get carried away by the beautiful sites, especially the castle of Quinta da Regaleira: a romantic palace with luxurious park, that features lakes, grottoes and fountains.
Carl Zuckmayer (“The Captain of Köpenick”): Saas-Fee, Switzerland
The famous German writer and playwright Zuckmayer shuttled between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. throughout his life. His play, “The Captain of Köpenick,” was a smash success, but like his other plays it became censored during World War II. Following the War, Zuckmayer settled down in Saas-Fee, Switzerland where he bought this luxurious wooden chalet in Zermatt. The breathtaking alpine scenery there probably inspired him to continue writing and this chalet is also a perfect place in which one can quietly read for hours on end.