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Hotel check: The Algonquin Hotel Times Square

Published: 02/06/2012 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2012 » June 2012 » Tried and Tested » Tried and Tested »

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HOW MANY ROOMS? 156 guest rooms and 25 suites including the famed Dorothy Parker Suite.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS Headboards with 1920s photography of New York street scenes, bay windows with built-in reading nooks.

PRICE Web site rates for a midweek stay in June (after it re-opens) start at $695. Special offers available plus Marriott Rewards.

CONTACT 59 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036; tel: (212) 840-6800;

VERDICT The recent multi-million dollar update to this New York icon adds contemporary elements while preserving its artistic heritage and timeless elegance. Modern amenities and a central location meets the needs of both business and leisure travelers.

BACKGROUND Birthplace of the New Yorker magazine, and home of the legendary Round Table where Dorothy Parker once held court along with the literary glitterati of the 1920s, the historic Algonquin is the oldest operating hotel in New York, and one of the first in the city to welcome ladies traveling alone. Since 1902, it has hosted the artistic and cultural elite including almost every prominent American writer from William Faulkner (who wrote his Nobel Prize acceptance speech at the hotel), to Gertrude Stein and Maya Angelou. 

On New Year’s Day 2012 (I was one of the last guests to check out), this New York City landmark closed its doors for a top to bottom, multi-million dollar makeover by hospitality design firm intra-Spec. Its reopening in late May unveiled a modern Manhattan ambience while staying true to its distinctive personality.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The small front desk area is directly to the right of the main doors as you walk in, and opposite from the Lobby lounge. Mathilda, a Ragdoll cat which serves as the resident mascot, surveys the scene from the check-in desk. The Algonquin hospitality is in evidence as staff notes each guest’s individual preferences so they can be catered to in advance on future visits. 

WHERE IS IT? The Algonquin Hotel Times Square is on Manhattan’s Club Row at 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, just steps away from Broadway theatres and Grand Central.

ROOM FACILITIES Each of the 181 guestrooms was completely redone with new furnishings and fixtures. The large headboards use black and white photographs of 1920s New York street scenes. Beds are dressed with 300-thread count sheets and European pillows. Silk screened damask chandeliers illuminate the gold, tan and black color scheme of the rooms which boast custom designed furnishings such as bay windows with a built-in reading seat. The bedside tables and desk feature built-in power outlets to accommodate the take-along technology of the modern traveler. Rooms have large flat screen TVs, free WiFi, and noise-reducing heating and cooling systems.  

All guest bathrooms have black and white Italian tiled floors, frameless glass shower stalls replacing the original bathtubs, a back-lit vanity mirror, and a selection of L’Occitaine toiletries.

The largest suite in the hotel, the new Barrymore Suite, has a sunken living area and street views out onto Manhattan’s Club Row. The Dorothy Parker Suite – once home to the illustrious Ms. Parker herself – contains its own art collection featuring some specially commissioned pieces that revolve around her considerable literary legacy.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Blue Bar, with its collection of original Al Hirschfield caricatures, serves up classic cocktails such as Manhattans and martinis. The bar was expanded, taking over the space formerly occupied by the now-closed Oak Room. The oak-paneled lobby, known as “New York’s living room,” received updated furnishings  and continues to be the place where people gather for cocktails and conversation. 

At Algonquin’s famed Round Table restaurant at the rear of the lobby, guests can dine in an intimate, club-like atmosphere while sitting under a mural of the “Vicious Circle” – a celebrated group of writers, actors and critics who met for lunch at the Algonquin every day during the 1920s. 

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The 24-hour business center with its three work stations is complimentary, as is high-speed WiFi throughout the hotel. The Library Board room seats 10 for meetings, and contains glass cases with literary works by members of the Round Table and other authors inspired by the Algonquin. 

LEISURE FACILITIESThe 800-square-foot fitness center is available 24 hours with treadmills, an elliptical stationary bike and recumbent bikes, plus weight training equipment and mats for stretching.

Yvonne Yorke

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