You Can Spend the Night in the Secret Library Tucked Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral

Airbnb is offering two guests the chance to sleep amongst 22,000 books in an area normally off-limits to visitors

Row of library shelves with a bed in the background
Completed in 1709, the library has more than 22,000 books. Simone Morciano

With its towering dome, St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous structures in all of London. Soon, some lucky travelers will have a chance to spend the night at the famed landmark—the first to do so since the St. Paul’s Watch fire brigade took nightly shifts protecting the building during World War II.

Airbnb is offering a one-night stay for up to two people on March 15. The company didn’t share how it will select the overnight guests, but bookings open online on March 12 at 6 a.m. Eastern. The experience will cost just £7 ($8.86).

In honor of World Book Day, the two travelers will spend the night in the hidden library tucked behind the cathedral’s southwest tower.

“The recently restored library at St. Paul’s has long been a secret gem of the Cathedral—cleverly concealed by the ingenious architecture of Sir Christopher Wren,” says Sandra Lynes Timbrell, the cathedral’s director of visitor engagement, in a statement. “Some very fortunate guests will now get the chance to delve deeper into the history and wonder of St. Paul’s with this truly one-of-a-kind stay.”

When they arrive, guests will enter the cathedral on the south side and climb the Geometric Staircase designed by Wren more than three centuries ago. From there, the cathedral’s dean will lead them on an exclusive tour of the building. 

They’ll also get to peruse the shelves of the cathedral’s library, which holds more than 22,000 books. According to the London Times’ Laura Jackson, the room was initially meant to serve as a resource for clergy and staff—and these days, to protect the delicate volumes, visitors are typically barred from the room. 

Completed in 1709, the library was largely unchanged until a few years ago, when conservators conducted an extensive effort to restore the room and clean its books and manuscripts. 

“The wonky flooring was fixed, the intricate plasterwork restored and a new humidity controller installed in an effort to preserve the volumes of religious texts and records,” writes the London Times. “There’s still the distinctive vanilla and leather scent of old books though, and Wren’s windows filter the midday sun, making the gold-embossed spines shimmer.”

Green couch and shelves of books
Because the books and manuscripts are so delicate, the library is normally off-limits to the public. Simone Morciano

In addition to surveying historical volumes, the two visitors will also get to flip through the pages of several books that haven’t been released yet, including Holly Jackson’s The Reappearance of Rachel Price, John Grisham’s Camino Ghosts and Kevin Kwan’s Lies and Weddings.

Travelers will have dinner at a nearby restaurant before snuggling up in the library’s bedroom section. The next morning, after eating breakfast at a nearby restaurant, they’ll return to climb to the cathedral’s dome.

Wren rebuilt St. Paul’s cathedral—along with dozens of other churches—following the Great Fire of London in 1666. He received approval for his plans in 1675, and construction lasted through around 1710.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the cathedral has hosted many important ceremonies, such as Winston Churchill’s funeral and Charles III’s wedding to Diana, Princess of Wales and parts of Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

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