The Handbook
The Handbook

Reading and travelling go hand in hand. You read on the plane, by the pool and when you’re in the middle of nowhere waiting for that bus to turn up and take you on that six hour journey. To celebrate World Book Day we’ve chosen eight books to take with you on your travels and handily eight hotels to stay in…

The Great Gatsby: W New York - Times Square

Read it Up in the City That Never Sleeps

If Jay Gatsby was alive now (or indeed real at all) then we think he’d be partying it up at W New York Times Square, right in the middle of the city that never sleeps. He’d go for drinks in The Living Room, maybe make the most of the happy hour at their Mexican restaurant Dos Caminos and then definitely staved off a hangover with an indulgent brunch the next morning at Blue Fin. Of course Jay isn’t real, but you are, so you can read about his revelry, cocktail in hand, looking at the bright lights.

Where: 1567 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, USA

At Betram's Hotel: Flemings Mayfair

Classic British Murder in a Quintessential London Hotel

Rumour has it that Agatha Christies was inspired by Flemings Mayfair when she wrote At Betram’s Hotel. Whilst she didn’t give any details what would make you say that it definitely was the Flemings (and others have said it could have been based on Brown’s), Agatha does describe a quintessential London hotel, ‘dignified unostentatious and quietly expensive’ and it’s said that an authoritative  source has said it is more likely to be Flemings. Visit the hotel on Half Moon Street, have dinner at Ormer Mayfair by Shaun Rankin before drinks at the recently refurbished Manetta’s Bar. Hopefully you won’t come across any grisly murders, but if you do, think: what would Miss Marple do?

Where: 7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, W1J 7BH

My Family and Other Animals: Corfu Imperial

Experience Life Like The Durrells

My Family and Other Animals is surely the reason half of us want to go to Corfu, to spend long, hazy, lazy hot days by the sea, reading, occasionally swimming and eating olives. Something which has only been heightened since ITV’s adaptation, now, even more of us are falling in love with the village squares, cobbled streets and charms of Corfu. The Durrells was filmed in Danilia, a village that had been left to deteriorate until it was restored by the Daskalantonakis family who just so happen to own the Grecotel hotel chain. We suggest you stay at the Corfu Imperial, an exclusive resort right on the edge of the Ionian sea. Choose from a villa, a luxury suite, bungalow or even a private yacht. Book The Durrells package and you’ll even get a private tour of Danilia.

Where: Tzavros, Kommeno, Kerkira 490 83, Greece

Out of Africa: Hemingways Nairobi

View the Ngong Hills

‘I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.’ The first line of Out of Africa, the book that will inspire you to visit Kenya, to see the beautiful hills, to look down into the Great Rift Valley and see the sights that Karen Blixen saw as she penned her memoir. So where to stay when you’re visiting? It has to be the Blixen Suite, at luxury, 5* boutique hotel, Hemingsway Nairobi. With its own private terrace with views of the Ngong Hills, a marble-lined spacious ensuite bathroom, personalised mini bar and the option of your own butler service, the hotel might be very different to Blixen’s own farm, but you know, we’re ok with that.

Where: Hemingways Nairobi, Mbagathi Ridge, Nairobi, Kenya

Shantaram: Taj Mahal Palace

Become a Bombaiker

Shantaram is set in bustling Bombay as you follow the endlessly extraordinary story of Aussie fugutive Gregory Roberts, hiding out in the murky underworld of one of the world’s biggest megacities. The ultimate ‘gap yah’ book, clutched by travellers across the the sub continent, but nevertheless gripping and guaranteed to make you want to immerse yourself in this endlessly fascinating country and city. Which you can in style at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, the southern tip of the city alongside the symbolic Gateway of India and close to Leopold Cafe, which features extensively in the novel. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is the pinnacle of luxury, one of a handful of genuinely global landmark hotels. Even if you stay in youth hostels the rest of your visit, try and stay a night here at least.

Where: Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Bombay, Maharashtra, India

Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie: The Principal Hotel

Magical Edinburgh

To 1930s Edinburgh and the world of Miss Jean Brodie, the girls’ school teacher imparting wisdom to her favourites, “the Brodie set”. The book isn’t what what could, on any level really, be classed as a travel novel, focussing as it does on Muriel Spark’s obsession with catholicism and pre-war mores, but there is a wry Scottish wit, and something special that makes the drab streets, attitudes and world of 1930s Edinburgh come somehow alive. Thankfully modern Edinburgh is far less strait-laced and is instead open and vibrant and doesn’t get better than The Principal Hotel! The hotel, set on George Street, is perfectly placed for sight seeing, and is as impressive as it is comfortable.

Where: 19-21 George St, Edinburgh, EH2 2PB

The English Patient: Adrère Amellal

At one with nature in the dessert

We’ve all seen the Oscar winning film The English Patient but hopefully you’ve read or have a copy of the book by Michael Ondaatje, it’s a slightly depressing but nevertheless very good read. The book is mainly set in Italy and the North African dessert. If you want to feel at one with the dessert, then Adrère Amellal will not only take you back to the surroundings of the film, it’ll take you back to the era: there is literally no electricity and mobile phones are banned, they provide the candles. The eco hotel is an oasis (literally, it’s built on a dessert oasis), providing luxury but with tranquility and sheer uncontactability!

Where: 18 Mansour Mohamed Street, Zamalek 11211, Cairo, Egypt

War and Peace: The Official State Hermitage Hotel

The best of St Petersberg

War and Peace is either the thickest book you’ve ever read, or the book you vaguely pretend you once read and then get assigned to write a segment on it for The Handbook’s World Book Day article. The tumultuous events of the novel chronicle the life of Count Bezukhov, as well as providing an account of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, and it’s jolly long. Set in St Petersberg (as well as Moscow, greater Russia and Europe) any readers drawn to the stately, Tsarist era will of course be looking for a Russian palace to stay in, so why not check out The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel? The palatial hotel’s doormen are dressed to emulate the outfits worn by Russian’s royal servants 150 years ago and the hotel is a masterpiece harking back to a past era.

Where: 10 Pravda Street, St Petersburg, Russia