Forget coffee in the lobby and chocolates at turndown. Coloring books for grown-ups — where the illustrations are inspired by travel, fashion and Champagne wishes — are among the latest amenities being offered at hotels around the world.
Over the last year Morgans Hotel Group has given guests “Morgans State of Mind” coloring books with pictures influenced by its boutique hotels in Miami, San Francisco, Istanbul and London. W Hotels gave coloring books featuring preferred cocktails of former presidents to guests who booked a certain type of suite. Yotel New York, part of the affordable Yotel chain, began selling crayons and coloring book pages that call to mind the Big Apple. And the Four Seasons Hotel Austin in Texas started allowing guests to request coloring book pages and crayons at the front desk and offering groups an “Inspiration Station” stocked with crayons and coloring pages of mandalas.
Add to that dozens of new travel coloring books for adults that aim to, ahem, draw people out of their smartphones and transport them, for about the cost of Wi-Fi on an airplane, to places like London, Cuba, New York and Tokyo.
Coloring books for grown-ups emerged as a fad early last year and by November Publishers Weekly had declared, “It is hard to find a publisher that hasn’t entered the adult coloring book market.” Today there are coloring books for practically any interest or luminary, be it “The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Book: A Tribute to the Always Colorful and Often Inspiring Life of the Supreme Court Justice Known as RBG,” “The Official ‘A Game of Thrones’ Coloring Book” or the “Colour Me Good James Franco Coloring Book.” And books like “Release Your Anger: An Adult Coloring Book With 40 Swear Words to Color and Relax,” along with other titles not fit for a family newspaper, continue to be Amazon.com best-sellers.
However, unlike other regressive activities that adults have engaged in, such as watching the “Twilight” films and reading “Harry Potter” books, the coloring book trend is all about the cultivation of calm; the blithe notion that one can eclipse stress with a crayon (or a sharp colored pencil, as the case may be).
In April, Morgans Hotel Group, which owns chic properties such as Delano South Beach in Miami and Mondrian London, began offering guests a limited-edition “Mindfulness Coloring Book” with images inspired by the company’s hotels, including a couple in a bubble bath clinking glasses of champagne in a guest room at the Royalton New York.
The line drawings conjure carefree grown-up vacations: There are women and men with tattoos in a pool, men in pork pie hats and women who paired sandals with wild print dresses lounging and walking hither and thither, people texting on their cellphones, a woman with a yoga mat over her shoulder. Instead of fat, waxy crayons, the books came with six sharp color pencils in a minimalist brown box the size of a couple of matchbooks.
“Coloring is believed to contribute to wellness, quietness, and mindfulness — just like meditation does,” Morgans said in May on Back of House, its lifestyle website. “It’s also great for de-stressing and sparking creativity.”
From late October to Election Day in the United States, W Hotels offered guests who booked an EWOW suite (akin to a presidential suite) a 12-page coloring and recipe book called “All the President’s Cocktails,” featuring illustrations of presidents and their preferred drinks, such as George Washington reimagined as a hipster in a small batch distillery with a whiskey old-fashioned, and a tattooed Franklin Delano Roosevelt shaking a martini behind a bar.
At Yotel New York, the pursuit of Zen comes with a small cost. A “Coloring and Activity Book” with line drawings including a disco ball and images inspired by New York City is $8; $6 for a pack of colored pencils and a sharpener; or $12 for the set. Alternatively, those in need of peace but short on cash can download pages from the Yotel Coloring and Activity Book online.
There are drawings of subway riders, birds perched on a fountain and, of course, a mob of taxis. In February, Yotel began encouraging would-be artists to take a photograph of their finished work and post it on social media using the hashtag #YOTELMasterpiece to possibly win a stay at the property. The images in the Yotel book, by Ian Sklarsky, were produced during something known as blind contour, “a Zen method in which lines are drawn without looking at the paper,” as the Yotel website puts it.
Hotels are not, however, the only travel companies to have pounced on the trend. In March, the travel publisher Lonely Planet rolled out “The Ultimate Travel Coloring Book” for adults, a bucket list of places including the Temple of Angkor in Cambodia and the Taj Mahal in India (about $13 on Amazon). The “Adult Coloring Books” series from Little, Brown and Company, introduced last year, features images that call to mind major cities in coloring books with titles such as “Secret Paris,” “Secret Tokyo” and “Secret New York,” all of which are not-so-subtly subtitled “Color Your Way to Calm” (about $11 each on Amazon). That last one has drawings of Central Park, taxis, brownstones, the Empire State Building and the Chelsea flower district.
While Little, Brown may be one of the biggest publishers to chase the fad, there are travel coloring books for a variety of niches. If they can help ease stress, such books may just be the perfect thing to slip into your carry-on before you squeeze into coach.