Books, Beaches & Girlfriends: A Digital Detox at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon

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Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - With its comfortable chairs and ocean views, the library is the heart of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

With its author-themed rooms, lounge-worthy library, and ocean views, the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, is a haven for book lovers or anyone looking to unplug.

Perched on a 45-foot bluff above the surf on Newport’s Nye Beach, the historic boutique hotel isn’t for everyone. With the focus on books, the hotel has no TVs, room phones, or wifi — although cell phones still work. The unplugged nature of the oceanfront hotel makes it appealing to couples wanting a romantic weekend or people like me looking for a low-key girlfriends’ getaway.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in Oregon

Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - The entrance to the Sylvia Beach Hotel gives little hint of the book-themed rooms within.
The entrance to the Sylvia Beach Hotel gives little hint of the book-themed rooms within. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

What makes the hotel special are the 21 author-themed rooms, each decorated to reflect a book or the author’s body of work. Every room is unique, and peeking into unoccupied hotel rooms is part of the book-themed fun. Many guests come to relax in the library and read or watch the waves pound the Oregon Coast.

Check in at the front desk in the lobby, then say hello to the hotel cat. The gift shop is a fun mix of wine, snacks, puzzles, and, of course, books. If you can tear yourself away from the library, the beach, shops, and restaurants of Newport’s Nye Beach neighborhood are a short walk from the hotel.

Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - Murals of books and authors bring the literary theme to the lobby.
Murals of books and authors bring the literary theme to the lobby. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

Why the Sylvia Beach Hotel works for book lovers:

  • Each room’s decor reflects a single book or an author’s collected works
  • On-site library with oceanfront views for reading and relaxing
  • The library is a quiet, cell-phone-free zone
  • Decks overlooking the beach with chairs for reading
  • Bookstore less than a block away
  • Breakfast included with the room
  • Gift shop of books, wine, games, and book-themed items
  • Optional dinner served at Tables of Content, the on-site restaurant (reservations required)
  • Short walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants
  • Reserved parking lot

What may not work for guests:

  • Reservations cannot be made online. Phone the hotel at (541) 265-5428 to reserve a room. The hotel staff can help you pick the perfect room and answer any questions.
  • A two-night stay is required for Saturdays
  • No wifi, TV, or phones provided
  • No elevator. First-floor rooms are suitable for guests who can’t climb stairs. None of the rooms accommodate wheelchairs
  • The hotel’s resident cat may trigger allergies
  • Not for families with young children
  • No pets, smoking, or vaping allowed
  • Wind and rain storms on the Oregon Coast may be loud. I appreciated my earplugs!
Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - Headlights on the mural double as bedside lamps in the John Steinbeck room.
Headlights on the mural double as bedside lamps in the John Steinbeck room. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

Rooms at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

Each room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel is unique. Square footage, color schemes, furnishings, and how many guests a room can accommodate all vary. Three large rooms, listed as “the Classics” on the website, feature fireplaces and decks overlooking the beach. These include rooms honoring Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Chez Colette.

“Best Sellers” are midsized rooms with a view of Yaquina Head Lighthouse. These themed rooms feature John Steinbeck, Alice Walker, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Dr. Seuss, Amy Tan, Lincoln Steffens, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The most affordable rooms are the “Novels.” These rooms are smaller, with no ocean view. All but one, the Ken Kesey room, have ensuite bathrooms. These are decorated to reflect Jules Verne, J.R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and William Shakespeare.

Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - The Cat in the Hat, silly hats, and bright colors fill the Dr Seuss room
The Cat in the Hat, silly hats, and bright colors fill the Dr Seuss room. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

Some rooms rely on subtle details, such as items hung on the walls or knickknacks, to indicate the author. In my favorite rooms, the decorations are anything but subtle. The best way to pick a room is to go online to see photos of each room.

My Guestroom

On a girlfriends’ getaway, three of us stayed in the spacious Ken Kesey room. In honor of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the room is decorated like a ward in a comfortable, vintage mental asylum.

In addition to four twin beds, the room features a center table perfect for eating takeout or working a puzzle. Fun details included clipboards with pens resembling hypodermic needles and little paper cups on the nightstands with a few jellybean “pills.” The Kesey room’s single-occupant bathroom and shower are a few steps down the hall.

I’d definitely stay there again.

Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - With a tentacle emerging from the wall, the Jules Verne room hints at adventures beneath the sea.
With a tentacle emerging from the wall, the Jules Verne room hints at adventures beneath the sea. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

Here are a few more of my favorite rooms:

  • The JK Rowling Room transports you to Hogwarts. It’s decorated in Gryffindor’s deep red and gold, with faux stone walls and a four-poster double bed draped in red curtains. The details include a Gryffindor scarf thrown casually over a chair, mysterious potions on the desk, and a plush snowy owl in the corner.
  • The William Shakespeare Room is unabashedly romantic. The four-poster bed is covered in a rich brocade and draped in gauzy white. Hints from the plays are everywhere, from the crossed swords on the wall to the mask on the antique hall tree.
  • The Jules Verne Room takes you 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with an imaginative bed that wouldn’t be out of place on a submarine. Nautical details, such as a porthole mirror, add to the illusion. The best part? A huge orange tentacle reaches into the room.
  • The Dr. Seuss Room immerses you in the author’s imaginary world. Decorated in bright red, yellow, and blue, the room features playful details, including a grinning Cat in Hat on the wall and Ned’s fuzzy feet sticking out from the bed.
  • The Agatha Christie Room is spacious and elegant and looks like the perfect setting for one of Christie’s “cozy” mysteries. The room features a deck, ocean views, a fireplace — and a little mystery. Hidden in the room are clues to many of Christie’s novels.  

The Tables of Content Restaurant

A hot breakfast is included with rooms at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. It’s served in the Tables of Content, the on-site restaurant with a dining room overlooking the beach. The hot entree varies each day. We enjoyed breakfast burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs, sausage, and potatoes on the day we visited.

In addition to tea and coffee, guests also can help themselves to a selection of pastries, breads, juices, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurts.

Tables of Content also serves guests and the public a fixed-price, four-course dinner.

I’ve yet to eat dinner there, but I’d like to. The mouthwatering menu varies monthly. The chef uses seasonal, locally sourced ingredients to prepare the menus. The restaurant offers a comprehensive wine list, emphasizing wines from the West Coast. Beer and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Be sure to make reservations at least three hours in advance. You’ll likely share a table with other guests if the restaurant is crowded. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy family-style seating and play “Two Truths and a Lie” to get the conversation rolling.

The Library at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

The third-floor library or reading room is truly the heart of the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Like the rest of the common areas, the lounge has a comfortably lived-in feel, but it’s far from shabby. Couches and chairs face wide windows that stretch the width of the hotel.

I enjoyed settling into a wingback chair with a cup of tea and watching the crashing waves. Other guests spent hours sprawled on couches in front of the fireplace, reading or happily knitting. The library is the best place to spy on the spouts of passing whales and watch the spectacular sunsets.

It’s a quiet zone most of the time. In keeping with the unplugged nature of the hotel, cell phones are not permitted in the library. Laptops are allowed, so you can write a book instead of reading one. The tables in the small kitchen and the library’s loft are perfect for computers.

If you want tea, coffee, or access to a refrigerator and a microwave, head to the small kitchen by the library. It’s always open and has an old oak table for dining, playing games, or working some of the dozens of puzzles filling the bookshelf in the corner.

My friends and I spent an hour or so after dinner getting to know a fellow book-lover and working a puzzle together. Mulled wine is available in the evenings for guests over 21.

Sylvia Beach Hotel Review - The Sylvia Beach Hotel offers themed rooms and ocean views in Newport's Nye Beach neighborhood.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel offers themed rooms and ocean views in Newport’s Nye Beach neighborhood. Photo credit: June Russell-Chamberlin

Newport and the Nye Beach Neighborhood

Newport sprawls between the Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay, formed by a broad section of the Yaquina River. Both areas offer a mix of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Two lighthouses — one at the mouth of the river, the other at Yaquina Head — are open to the public.

If you stay at the hotel, you can park in the reserved parking lot across the street and walk to the beach, bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, bakeries, and galleries.

The hotel is four blocks from events and plays at the Newport Performing Arts Center and less than a block from art exhibits at the Newport Visual Arts Center.

The closest bookstore is the Nye Beach Book House (727 NW 3rd St.), half a block from the hotel. It sells a wide selection of new and used books.

WiFi is available at most restaurants and cafes. One I recommend is Ultralife Cafe (715 NW Beach Drive), two blocks away. It offers espresso, smoothies, gluten-free pastries, lunch, and much more.

Archway Market, next door to Ultralife Cafe, has a fun mix of souvenirs, toys, food, wine, beer, clothing, and whatever you might have forgotten to bring.

Yaquina Bayfront

You’ll need a car to reach the Yaquina Bayfront. The public lots and street parking can fill quickly on weekends and during the summer, so plan to go earlier in the day. In addition to restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, and galleries, the bayfront also boasts tourist attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! World of Adventure, the Wax Works Museum of Wax figures, whale watching tours, fishing expeditions, and the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center.

This area also has some of the best seafood restaurants in town. My favorite is the original Mo’s Seafood and Chowder (622 SW Bay Blvd.).

Sylvia Beach Hotel Details

The Sylvia Beach Hotel is located at 267 NW Cliff St., Newport, Oregon. It’s approximately 130 miles southwest of Portland or about a two-and-a-half-hour drive.

The hotel’s location can’t be beat. Perched on the bluff above Nye Beach, the hotel is less than a five-minute downhill walk to the beach.

The hotel is named after Sylvia Beach, an American woman who founded the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris in 1919. She gained fame for publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the bookstore became a gathering place for many well-known writers of the day.

June Russell-Chamberlin is an Oregon-based travel writer and photographer with an unquenchable curiosity and a love of adventure. A journalist for more than 25 years, you’ll find her traveling off-the-beaten path in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. She writes about sailing, hiking, history, culture, food, wine, and whatever captures her interest. She is a member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram: [at] junerussellchamberlin.
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