This month in Between the Lines Book Club we are reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. The premise of the book is that a gentleman is confined to house arrest in The Metropol Hotel in Moscow for the rest of his life. We’ll be discussing the book at Arden Dimick Library on Saturday June 24 at 10:30AM.
The Metropol is an actual hotel in Moscow, one with a history just as fascinating as the one described in Towles’ book. Construction on the hotel started in 1899 and finished in 1907. It’s near The Kremlin and across from the Bolshoi Ballet.
In 1918, the Bolsheviks (the group led by Lenin that became The Communist Party) took over the hotel and turned it into a home for their new bureaucracy. In the 1930s, the government became concerned that if the country seemed too drab, the West would be come convinced that Communism was failing. They restored the hotel, which became a gathering place for journalists and celebrities. Some of the famous guests have been e.e. cummings, Lillian Hellman, John Steinbeck, Marlene Dietrich, and Michael Jackson. You can find a timeline of the hotel’s history here. Another place to find history, including journalists describing staying in the hotel during the October Revolution, is Amor Towles’ website.
There are 365 rooms in the hotel, and no two are alike. Rooms are furnished with antiques. And yes, it’s well-reviewed on TripAdvisor and it does have wi-fi!