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We know what you’re thinking…a reading retreat? Is this really a thing? Can I take time off from work, pack up all those books piling up on the bedside table, head to somewhere quiet and secluded – and tell people I’m going on a retreat? Yes, we’re delighted to say, absolutely.
In fact, for many years, Bill Gates went into seclusion for what he called “Think Weeks” – family, friends and Microsoft employees were banned from his retreat, and he used the time to reflect and read books he had set aside. Word has it he still schedules getaways twice a year to catch up on reading.
If the thought of slipping away for a literary break appeals (yes please!) here are seven fabulous destinations to inspire.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
– Jorge Luis Borges
If a wilderness retreat is more your thing, CABINSCAPE offers tiny cabin rentals for intimate escapes in the most beautiful, rugged and private landscapes Southern Ontario has to offer. They are completely off-grid, solar-powered and ecologically responsible. The only thing that might interrupt your reading is the sheer beauty of your surroundings. For a solo escape, their Mason cabin resides on 576 pristine acres overlooking a secluded lake with expansive wilderness views and a meandering trail network right outside your door. Hike along the extensive trails the property has to offer and meander through a mixture of forest, meadows, beaver ponds, and wetlands. All cabins offer a cozy, clean, minimalist, rustic and open-concept design, perfect for some guilt-free quiet time.
New York City, USA
Centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, each of the Library Hotel’s sixty exquisitely appointed rooms has been individually adorned with a collection of art and books relevant to one distinctive topic within the Dewey Decimal category of the floor it belongs to. The rooms feature rich wood furnishings and fabrics in a contemporary design, plus a library of inspiring books to captivate your imagination. Cozy up in your bathrobe and slippers, or head to the Reading Room for freshly brewed coffee, teas, water, cookies, fresh fruit, and books any time. Plus, daily continental breakfast, wine and cheese every evening, bestselling e-books by Simon & Schuster and turndown service with bottled water and Belgian chocolates are all included in the resort fee of just $25 per night.
United Kingdom (Various Locations)
Fully pampered getaways, these small group retreats take place in lovely houses in the country or by the sea, the single priority being to give you space and time to read. All your meals are prepared, specialty teas and freshly brewed coffee are on tap, and you can choose solitude or shared time with other readers. Though you may already have your stack of books selected, if you are looking for inspiration they offer a ‘Reading Prescription,’ a personally tailored reading list prepared especially for you. At each retreat they also welcome an author for dinner one evening, to talk about their writing and their own enjoyment of reading. Take advantage of their ‘device sitting’ service to keep distractions to a minimum.
La Macchina Fissa
Lombardy Region, Northern Italy
Private holiday home and seat of the cultural association, Reading Retreats in Rural Italy, members (cost of ten euro per year) come from all over the world to relax and unwind in a beautiful, rural setting. Your stay is participatory, not catered – members are welcome to grab something to drink from the fridge, help cook or set the table and join in gardening projects – so it’s an excellent way to experience an authentic Italian way of life. The daily fee includes all meals and drinks (think traditional fare and local wines) and if there is a concert or event scheduled during your sojourn, it is included. Bathrooms are shared, and each room is furnished with antiques, exhibits contemporary art, and holds a themed collection of books.
British Columbia, Canada
Combine your love of yoga with a reading retreat at an off-grid Ashram in the mountains of Northern British Columbia, home to a spiritual retreat center and yogic community. Anuttara provides the perfect atmosphere to just relax into peace and quiet, and go at your own pace. Rejuvenate your spirit surrounded by 100 acres of natural pristine forest, mountains, and wildlife, enjoying simple and comfortable accommodations, yoga classes, attentive facilitators, and nutritious vegan meals. When you’re not absorbed in a book, there are various daily activities which you can participate in as much or as little as you would like, including chanting, yoga, meditation, pranayama, kirtan, sacred dance and fire ceremonies, all involving a harmonious blend of the ancient teachings of the East and West.
Located in the center of Amsterdam, a city renowned for its artistic heritage, intricate canal system, narrow houses with gabled facades, 17th-century Golden Age heritage and world-famous museums. The Central Library (Openbare Bibliotheek) across the road inspired this hotel to build their very own in-house library, where you will find an incredible selection of books on every subject, from science to history, plus all the classics just waiting for rediscovery. Rooms are all en suite, modern and simply finished, with free WiFi and phone calls, and guests can grab fresh fruit any time at reception – that’s if you can resist the desire to leave the hotel to walk the surrounding streets on a sunny day.
Simpson House Inn
Housed in an elegant Victorian estate built in 1874, the Simpson House Inn offers the perfect combination of historic charm and modern luxury. Pamper yourself on a Santa Barbara reading retreat, choosing either a tranquil guest room or cottage at this adult-only boutique hotel nestled on an acre of lush English gardens. Every guest stay includes afternoon refreshments, an evening wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, dessert bites, and a gourmet breakfast served in the main house or in your room at no additional charge. The property is part of the luxury hotel Bedside Reading program, where guests are welcomed into their room with a stack of hand-selected, brand new (often advance copy) titles that they are encouraged to bring home.