Rooms with the Write Stuff: Check into Stylish Lodgings Where Celebrated Gay Authors Once Rested Their Pens

By Halden, LoAnn | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), January 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

Rooms with the Write Stuff: Check into Stylish Lodgings Where Celebrated Gay Authors Once Rested Their Pens


Halden, LoAnn, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


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Willa Cather: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Quebec City, Canada

History and literature intertwine at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (418-692-3861; Fairmont. com/frontenac; from $199), where Pulitzer Prizewinning author Willa Cather stayed in the late '20s and '30s while working on her Quebec-set historical novel Shadows on the Rock. Built in 1893 with Scotch bricks and copper roofing, the multi-towered 618-room property rises above the city from Cap Diamant like a Renaissance castle. A portrait of Count de Frontenac, the hotel's namesake and an influential Cather character, hangs in the lobby. Upgraded Fairmont Gold rooms on the 14th-17th floors of the central tower overlook the 400-year-old historic district (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the glistening St. Lawrence River--views that mirror Rock's opening scene on rocky Cap Diamant: "Directly under his feet was the French stronghold--scattered spires and slated roofs flashing in the rich, autumnal sunlight; the little capital which was then the subject of so much discussion in Europe, and the goal of so many fantastic dreams." More novel delights: Take the Funicular from Dufferin Terrace in front of the Frontenac to Lower Town to visit Notre-Dame-des-Victoires with its castle-shaped altar, then amble back uphill, stopping at the Quebec Seminary, whose courtyard sundial inspired the book's title. When history lessons end for the day, the gay bars on Cote Sainte-Genevieve are a short walk from the landmark hotel.

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The Beat Writers: Relais Hotel du Vieux, Paris

Boho bibliophiles who embrace literary edginess but don't want grungy accommodations to match can get a fix at the Latin Quarter's Relais Hotel du Vieux (Metro stop: Saint Michel; 866-376-7831; EpoqueHotels.com; from approximately $274), the 1991 upgrade of the legendary Beat Hotel. "I view life as a fortuitous collaboration ascribable to the fact that one finds oneself in the right place at the right time," said gay Beat poet-novelist Brion Gysin in The Third Mind. "For us, the 'right place' was the famous 'Beat Hotel' in Paris, roughly from 1958 to 1963." In that 42-room dive, built in 1480 and known only by its Beat nickname, the resident artists shared one shower, sheets were changed monthly, and queer inspiration filled the air: Allen Ginsberg polished "Kaddish" and William Burroughs (pictured) tweaked Naked Lunch.

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Rooms with the Write Stuff: Check into Stylish Lodgings Where Celebrated Gay Authors Once Rested Their Pens
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