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Roald Dahl Day: 37 fantabulous hotels with literary connections

To celebrate Roald Dahl Day, we round up the best hotels with links to novels and authors, including Harry Potter by JK Rowling, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, Stephen King, The Great Gatsby and the Batman comics.

Headland Hotel, Cornwall, UK

To celebrate Roald Dahl Day, marked annually on September 13 in honour of the much-loved author's birthday, we round-up the world's most imaginative hotels with literary connections.

The annual witches’ convention in Roald Dahl’s children’s book, The Witches, takes place in a luxury hotel in Bournemouth. In the novel it is never mentioned specifically which hotel, but in the 1990 film, featuring Angelica Huston as the witches’ leader, the fictional ‘Excelsior Hotel’ in Cornwall is the base – it was filmed in the real-life Headland Hotel in Newquay.

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By Jade Conroy and Samhita Foria

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If you're a fan of the infamous Bloomsbury Set, head to The Bloomsbury hotel bar, inspired by the group. On the walls of the main bar area you'll find related artworks and books, and on the menu, cocktails named after Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa, their husbands and more, best enjoyed on the charming terrace.

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Potterheads will love the Wizard Chambers at Georgian House, in London's Victoria, based on JK Rowling's beloved books. Spend the night in a Hogwarts-style dorm just like Harry's, complete with four-poster bed and fireplace, hidden behind a secret door masquerading as a bookcase.

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Ashdown Park sits in the grounds of West Sussex's Ashdown Forest, better known as AA Milne's Hundre Acre Wood, home to Winnie the Pooh and friends. Walk around the estate and discover Pooh Bridge (for playing Pooh sticks, of course) and Roo's Sandpit.

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Eloise lived on the ‘tippy top floor’ of The Plaza with her nanny, pet Pug and turtle. In tribute to the children’s series, the hotel has a special suite in homage to Eloise. The suite remains true to illustrator Hilary Knight’s vision, featuring pink-tipped chandeliers, candy-striped walls, zebra-print carpets and Eloise dolls, tea sets, books and DVDs.

The hotel also features in The Great Gatsby – the fight scene between Tom Buchanan and Gatsby over Daisy takes place in one of the suites – and was a favourite hangout of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Brown’s Hotel was founded 175 years ago by the former valet to Lord Byron. It was the place where Agatha Christie stayed – her 1965 thriller, At Bertram’s Hotel, was inspired by the hotel. Rudyard Kipling also completed The Jungle Book at the hotel; a suite is named after him.

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F. Scott Fitzgerland and his wife Zelda rubbed shoulders with the likes of Picasso and Hemingway at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc on the French Riviera.

The hotel is not only immortalised in Tender is the Night – it is thought to be the inspiration for Hôtel des Etrangers – but also The Great Gatsby. The lighthouse, which flashed green to ward off boats from the rocky shore across the way from the property is thought to be the very same light in the novel, representing Gatsby’s longing for Daisy Buchanan.

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The Carlyle has been a favourite of everyone from Jackie O to Diana, Princess of Wales. It's a handsome, 35-storey 1930s Beaux Arts building with 188 Art Deco-styled rooms and suites. Grab a cocktail at at low-lit Bemelmans Bar, named after the creator of the Madeline children's books. The walls are covered in whimsical, large-scale murals by Bemelmans himself, and remains his only surviving commission which is open to the public.

Our New York hotel reviewer says: "[it] remains one of the finest cocktail bars in the world. Be sure to make a reservation."

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Singapore’s grandest of grande dames was a favourite writing spot of William Somerset Maugham – many of his tales were set in Southeast Asia. He said of the hotel “[it] stands for all the fables of the exotic east”. Rudyard Kipling was also a fan of the property.

Our hotel reviewer says: "Despite the cliché of sipping a Singapore Sling at the peanut shell-littered Long Bar, it remains a must-do ritual for new and returning tourists.”

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J.K Rowling finished the final novel in the Harry Potter series in a suite at The Balmoral Hotel. She left a statement, written on a marble bust (which has since been preserved behind glass) stating: “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007.”

Our Edinburgh hotel reviewer says of the hotel: “ This neo-Renaissance building with its massive clock tower has been an Edinburgh landmark for more than a century. With elegant bedrooms and over-the-top marble bathrooms, a spa, gym and swimming pool, recently refurbished Palm Court for champagne afternoon teas, this is a 21st century version of a grand hotel.”

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The magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels comes alive in the steamy and beautiful walled city of Cartagena. His novel Of Love and Other Demons is set within a 17th-century convent, located in the Unesco-protected old town, which is now the Hotel Santa Clara.

Our reviewer says: “Guests step from the unassuming street, through a large marble archway, into a charming historical cloister. Tropical plants and crowded vines overrule the open courtyard while the central water well (a symbol of purification for the nuns, also known as the Clarisas), trickles in the background.”

The gourmet restaurant, 1621, is set in the old dining room of the nuns.

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New Orleans' Hotel Monteleone has many connections to the literary world, which can be mapped out through its suites, named after Truman Capote (who was fond of telling the press he was born in the hotel), Tennessee Willams (The Rose Tattoo features the hotel) and Ernest Hemingway (who stayed here), amongst others. 

Our reviewer says: “[sip] a Sazerac at The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone (Truman Capote is said to have had his first-ever drink here).

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Much of Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, Death in Venice, is set inside Grand Hotel des Bains situated on the Venice Lido. The main character, author Gustav von Aschenbach, travels to Venice in order to alleviate his writer’s block, and becomes ultimately obsessed with an adolescent Polish boy named Tadzio. Mann visited the hotel in 1911; it has since been turned into luxury apartments.

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The Fleming Villa, a five-bedroom retreat within the GoldenEye Resort, was the place in which Ian Fleming penned all 14 of his James Bond novels. Alongside the original three-bedroom villa, there are two separate cottages. He famously said: “I have made up my mind. I am going to live the rest of my life in Jamaica.”

Our reviewer says: “It is a small and very stylish hotel, beloved of the stars, on Jamaica’s north shore. It catches the spirit of idiosyncratic, funky Jamaican style — off-beat and very cool indeed.”

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The Stanley Hotel in the Colorado Rockies was the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's novel, The Shining, which later became one of the most acclaimed horror films of all time. The hotel is allegedly haunted.

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In Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam – which later became the musical and film The King and I – british schoolteacher Anna Leonowens arrives in Bangkok by boat and asks the captain about a small hotel with a French flag – this hotel was the first in Bangkok and later became the Mandarin Oriental. It has remained a popular home-from-home for visiting authors such as John le Carré, Noël Coward and Barbara Cartland. The hotel has individually designed suites named after the authors.

Our reviewer says: “They have seen it all at the Oriental, including writer Somerset Maugham stumbling in with a bout of malaria and musician Billy Idol smashing his suite up.”

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The spectacular landscape of the Lakes inspired many of Potter’s works, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, alongside other notable names such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. Linthwaite hotel often hosts writing courses.

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The Savoy hotel’s Kaspar the cat has a solid place in its illustrious history. The sculpture – conceived by architect Basil Ionides in 1926 – joins dinner parties of 13 as the 14th 'guest' owing to a longstanding superstition. In 1898 diamond magnate Woolf Joel hosted a dinner party for 14 at the hotel, although one of them cancelled last minute. The story goes that a superstitious guest was uncomfortable with the new number, and declared that the first person to leave the table would die – it was Joel, who was shot dead in Johannesburg weeks later.

Micahel Morpurgo has since written a children’s book about Kaspar the cat, stating “When I first met Kaspar I knew immediately he would be the subject of my next novel”. There is also a seafood restaurant named after the hotel’s feline friend.

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This magnificent luxury safari lodge acted as a writing pad for author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith. One of the series, The Double Comfort Safari Club, is set in the Okavango Delta, where Belmond’s luxury lodge is based. All tented rooms come with huge beds with views of the delta alongside private plunge pools.

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Graham Greene stayed at The Metropole (now part of Sofitel's Legend group) while writing 1955 novel The Quiet American. The hotel has a suite named after Greene – all colonial armoires, anitique ceiling fans and hand-made artworks – and you can order his favourite cocktail (gin, dry vermouth and cassis) at the Bamboo pool bar (pictured above).

Our reviewer says: “Opened in 1901, this is one of the old colonial hotels of south-east Asia. Far from resting on its laurels, it has managed both to move with the times and retain its grandeur, combining modernity with old-school glamour, in the heart of Hanoi’s former French Quarter.”

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