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St Paul’s Cathedral to host Airbnb guests in restored library

06 March 2024

Simone Morciano

The bedroom

The bedroom

TO CELEBRATE World Book Day on Thursday, two guests are due to spend the night in St Paul’s Cathedral, and bask in the literary paradise of the recently restored library — a “charming and enrapturing space”, Airbnb promises.

The homestay rental company is offering two adults a “once-in-a-lifetime” overnight stay in the “bedroom section of the Hidden Library”, for a fee of just £7 (reflective of 7 March). This includes dinner at a restaurant near by, breakfast the next morning, being greeted by the Dean, and a tour of the dome.

Simone MorcianoThe ‘romance nook’

The guests — who are to have access to the library through the Dean’s door and the geometric staircase — are to be the first people officially to sleep in the cathedral since members of the St Paul’s Watch stayed there to protect the building from incendiary bombs during the Second World War.

The stay is being hosted by the influencer Abby Parker, of Book Tok — a subcommunity of the online platform TikTok — which is devoted to reading.

The booking description for the accommodation says that it is without TV, WiFi, and kitchen facilities, but that towels, bed sheets, and toilet paper are provided. Guests, who had to have a verified Airbnb profile, were able book in the usual way. It is understood that they are to be selected on the basis of first come, first served.

The cathedral’s director of visitor engagement, Sandra Lynes Timbrell, has described the partnership with Airbnb as “a true celebration of readers in the most magical of ways. From exploring the secret corners of the cathedral and summiting the famous dome, to reading their way through Penguin Random House US’s upcoming releases, this once-in-a-lifetime experience is the stuff of fairy tales.”

She told the Church Times on Wednesday: “We’re hugely excited to offer two lucky guests the chance to celebrate World Book Day in such a unique manner within St Paul’s hidden library. This stay is truly a one of a kind, and will only be available for one night. Two fortunate guests will have the chance to stay, but we hope this one-off event inspires many other people to visit the newly restored Library and gain a deeper insight into the cathedral’s history and the Christian faith.”

The library reopened last October after a five-year restoration project, during which the 22,000 books and manuscripts in its collection were cleaned and recorded, and their accommodation was refurbished and updated (News, 20 October 2023).

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