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Our little black book of enchanting places


Hotels with literary connections by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Last week there was a story in several newspapers about Knoll House Hotel, on Dorset’s Studland Bay, being up for sale. Why the interest? Because the children’s author Enid Blyton and her husband used to stay at the hotel in the 1940 and 50s and many of the local landmarks – such as Brownsea Island and Purbeck Castle – inspired locations in her Famous Five novels. It’s noted that Blyton always had the best room overlooking the bay, and she and her husband always ate at the same table in the restaurant. Needless to say, Knoll House isn’t the only UK hotel with literary connections. Here are five of our favourites:Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral, one of Edinburgh’s finest hotels and now part of the Rocco Forte Collection, also has a connection with a bestselling children’s author: it’s where J K Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the Harry Potter series. She even left a note in her room to confirm the momentuous occasion (it’s been sealed in a thief-proof glass case). Needless to say, the room has been renamed the J K Rowling Suite.The Savoy 

Many famous writers have stayed at London’s Savoy, including the novelist Arnold Bennett after whom the hotel named a smoked haddock omelette. In 2002 The Savoy created a special artist-in-residence programme in which every year it invited a different well-known writer to spend three months at the hotel without charge. In 2010 the role was updated to blogger-in-residence, and Stephen Fry – who spent six months living at the hotel in the Eighties – got the job.The Dorchester

The Dorchester has always been popular with creative types, from Cecil Day Lewis to Sir Alfred Munnings. It also hosted many of the legendary Foyles Literary Luncheons. One of its greatest fans, however, was Somerset Maugham who moved in for several months during the war and remained a regular visitor until his death. It was also where the late Jackie Collins always stayed when she was in town. Brown's Hotel

In December Jungle Book fans will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of its author, Rudyard Kipling. When he was in London, Kipling always stayed at Brown’s Hotel in Dover Street. Brown’s even claims the author wrote Jungle Book at the hotel though other sources say Kipling stayed there while he oversaw publication of the book. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Kipling Suite is one of the most luxurious rooms in the hotel.Belmond Cadogan Hotel

The Cadogan’s literary associations are perhaps not the happiest: this was where Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895 for gross indecency, commemorated in a poem by John Betjeman (it included the immortal lines: ‘We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly/For this is the Cadogan Hotel’). The Knightsbridge hotel is currently being renovated by its new owners, Belmond - let’s hope they keep room 118 as the Oscar Wilde Suite for this is where, 120 years ago, the writer waited patiently for the police to come and arrest him.

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