No need to sleep on the floor at the Gladstone Library; the only residential library in Britain does dinner, bed and breakfast. And, if you don’t finish the books in the library, you can take them to bed.
Originally designed to allow scholars to stay on site while undertaking their research and writing, this hotel with a difference is just as welcoming to tourists.
It’s founder William Ewart Gladstone didn’t spend much time sleeping. British Prime Minister four times, parliamentarian for 62 years and, as the detailed handwritten notes at the side of pages prove, he read 22,000 of the 32,000 books he donated to the library. Gladstone planned but never saw his residential library completed. It was finished soon after he died at the age of 82.
The library is in Gladstone’s village of Hawarden, Wales, six miles from the Roman city of Chester. Instead of donating his collection to Oxford University, which he felt had enough books, he decided to promote public learning in less fortunate places and chose a location within easy reach of the then industrial cities of Liverpool and Manchester.
Not all the rooms have an ensuite but the Gladstone Library is unusual in that the rates don’t discriminate against single people. A single ensuite room with dinner, bed and breakfast is £50 at the time of writing and a double with dinner, bed and breakfast is £80. In contrast to many modern boutique hotels there’s no need to buy in old books to give the building character here but probably advisable not to fall asleep in the library.