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Literary Tourism

Being a “Book Butler” Is a Thing — Tell Me Where to Send My Resume

Abby Hargreaves

Staff Writer

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

I have regularly lamented about the lack of opportunities to get books into hands at my library job (more often than not, my job focuses on technology assistance). Suggesting books to readers is one of my favorite things to do, and the lack of folks asking for recommendations at my job has led me to find other outlets for my burning desire to get good books into readers’ hands. But maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Travel + Leisure reported that one hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida, has a “Book Butler” on call for their temporary tenants to get on-demand book delivery.

Readers who too often finish a book before their trip is over or forget to pack a book in the first place, rejoice! Guests of the Ben West Palm can now simply dial “0” to request a delivery to their hotel room. The bookish fun continues with a customized tasseled bookmark and, if the guest is feeling peckish, they can order a “Book Bite.” Book Bites offer reader-guests with an additional sensory experience with their books: small plates of food paired specifically to their title of choice. Meanwhile, the delivered book is for keeps, if the guest wants. Otherwise, it may be donated to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation, which supports the library and its offerings. Guests who return to the Ben West Palm will enjoy new selections seasonally.

The Ben West Palm partners with the Palm Beach Book Store to make this bookish dream a reality for guests who love reading. It’s the perfect special offering for this hotel, too, which was inspired by writer Byrd Dewey’s nearby estate, Ben Trovato. Other literary features appear in the hotel, including secret sliding bookcases and an art piece depicting Dewey made of books. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the Ben West Palm is one of over 170 independent hotels that boast singularity. Marriott states, “Each [hotel] is a product of passion and a personal realization of its individual founder’s vision, making each hotel singular and special: Exactly Like Nothing Else. Hand-selected for their inherent craft and distinct perspectives on design and hospitality, Autograph Collection hotels offer rich immersive moments that leave a lasting imprint.” I don’t know about you, but complimentary book delivery to my hotel room certainly counts as something that would leave a lasting imprint on me.

Especially as the hospitality industry took a sizable hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels and other similar establishments must look for ways to set themselves apart from their competitors. Ben West Palm does this beautifully with the Book Butler program, focusing on solutions inspired by local partners that tie in with their existing theme. Palm Beach Illustrated reported General Manager Bernardo Neto as saying, “We understand the value in supporting independently-owned neighborhood businesses and giving back to our community, particularly during the current economic climate…” Meanwhile, Candice Cohen, who founded The Palm Beach Book Store, added, “During the pandemic, it has been especially important that we continue to connect our customers to books.”

At Book Riot, we couldn’t agree more. There’s so much to be said for how books have accompanied us through the pandemic, whether by patiently waiting on our shelves until we’re ready for them or letting us violently turn through the pages as we sought profound escape from a world thrown into more chaos than usual. With the Ben West Palm understanding the special relationship humanity has with books, their Book Butler program is a clear winner.

Looking ahead, Palm Beach Illustrated further noted that the Book Butler program is not in its final form. Rather, plans to bring authors in for events for guests are in the works.

Want more bookish travels? Try these bookish Airbnbs and check out our literary tourism archives to plan your next book-inspired adventure.