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Thornwillow Library Gallery at the St. Regis
The Library Gallery at the St. Regis in New York

We love sipping Manhattans at the King Cole Bar, but recently we discovered a new (though equally intoxicating) reason to visit the St. Regis: Thornwillow Press, the publisher of pristine collectible literature, has a secret library gallery tucked away in the historic hotel.

Just steps from the frescoed lobby, the study-like room is filled with mahogany bookshelves, oversized chairs and soft lighting for readers to curl up with a heavy novel (bring your own or choose from the library's selection of hand-bound books). Chat up the librarian, who's on call Tuesdays through Saturdays, about Thornwillow works for sale, including John Updike's hand-printed short stories ($1,250) and a bound version of President Obama's inaugural address ($375).

The rotating exhibitions are just as stirring. Currently on display are William Wegman's canine alphabet prints ($13,000 each), monotype volumes of literature by Wendy Mark ($95) and a spellbinding selection of letters from James Madison.

While all items are for sale, not for loan, customers have 24-hour access to the library and are encouraged to linger over a cup of coffee and a limited-edition book, or pen letters to friends on Thornwillow's custom stationery ($40).

This quiet zone makes for a totally new kind of happy hour.

Thornwillow Library Gallery at the St. Regis, 2 E. 55th St. (at Fifth Ave.); 212-980-0738 or stregis.com

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