Take Five: Southern accommodations with a literary bent
Updated: Jul 1
For two years F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, lived in a home in Zelda’s hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. Even though their time here was quick, they wrote portions of their novels, "Save Me The Waltz" and "Tender Is The Night." Now, the circa-1910 Craftsman house within the city’s historic Cloverdale district contains the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum and is the last home the Fitzgeralds lived in that’s open to the public. But here’s even better news – there’s a two-bedroom apartment with modern amenities and private access available for rent and guests receive a complimentary tour of the museum.
There were so many authors who visited Key West and some, such as Ernest Hemingway, who lived on the southernmost island of the continental United States. The Authors Key West Guesthouse, a bed and breakfast, honors those writers in its compound of historic Conch-style houses, suites and rooms. There’s even a pool spa for those who need to relax while drawing inspiration. While in Key West, be sure to visit the Ernest Hemingway House.
Walk into the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans and you’ll immediately spot a tribute to the authors who stayed, played or wrote here. Truman Capote claims to have been born at the historic hotel, but most will say his mother went into labor here. Other writers who have walked through the marble lobby have been William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Anne Rice, John Grisham and Stephen Ambrose. Even suites have literary names so you can stay in the William Faulkner Suite if you like. Hotel Monteleone is one of only three U.S. hotels to receive the Literary Landmark designation by the Friends of Libraries, USA. If you want to know more about the spirits — the haunted kind — check out my friend Kathleen Walls' blog post on Haunted Hotels in the South, which includes the Monteleone. My paranormal mystery series (pen name Cherie Claire) begins with A Ghost of a Chance, with my main character, Viola Valentine, staying at the Monteleone.
4. Alexander House Each room pays tribute to a famous author in the Alexander House Booklovers’ Bed & Breakfast in the quaint town of Princess Anne, Maryland, along the state’s Eastern Shore. There’s the jazz-inspired Langston Hughes Room, the nautical Robert Louis Stevenson Room and the more austere Jane Austen Room. View portraits of authors on the bed and breakfast’s wall or enjoy a good read in the home’s library. There’s even afternoon tea in the Victorian’s Café Colette, which is sure to inspire.
5. The Betsy
Writers are invited to live in residence at The Betsy in South Beach, Miami. The hotel offers a New York apartment-styled “Writer's Room” complete with fast internet, its own library and a desk donated by the Hyam Plutzik Centennial Committee to commemorate the poet’s time in Florida in the 1940s (Plutzik is also the father of hotel owner Jonathan Plutzik). Since the hotel began offering the Writer’s Room, more than 400 working writers have stayed here. To see who’s staying now, click here. But for the rest of us, there’s still that wonderful literary theme to enjoy — The Betsy places a bookmark with a poem on guests' pillows every evening.
Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire. She adores a literary getaway.