Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Along with its literary greats -- past and present -- the Algonquin pulls in just as many business travelers as unpublished vacationers.
Located on the same block as the Harvard and Yale clubs, the 174-room Algonquin plays up its established literary pedigree. This is the home of the infamous Round Table, where The New Yorker was created, and where virtually every major writer of the last century, from William Faulkner to Maya Angelou, has bunkered down. You can sit where great 1920s wit Dorothy Parker once traded repartee with her Vanity Fair colleagues. The lit-loving hotel manager used to ply her with free popovers and celery sticks -- but today you'll more likely be plunking down for the Dorothy Parker sliders and Hemingway martini.
Most guests fall into the category of middle-aged businessmen or couples over 50 touring the city. The latter park it on the lobby couch with big shopping bags before heading back out to a Broadway show; the former settle for expensing some early-bird cocktails. After work, the Blue Bar fills up, and both locals and guests treat themselves to cocktails.
Even though the hotel underwent a massive, multi-million dollar renovation in 2012, the Algonquin maintains its old-world appeal -- from the hotel cat, Matilda (who also happens to have her own email address, firstname.lastname@example.org), to the inconic cartoon wallpaper that is now displayed as framed pieces of artwork. The handsome oak-paneled Edwardian lobby is akin to a billionaire's private library, even after being a part of the updates.
Compared to the crowded sidewalks, neon lights, and commercial storefronts Midtown West is known for, the hotel's block is relatively calm. The Algonquin is situated on the end of a stretch of West 44th Street known as Club Row because of its grouping of posh university clubs for Ivy League alumni. There's the Harvard Club, the Yale Club, the Penn Club, and the New York Yacht Club. The street also boasts newer luxury hotels, like the Sofitel, and a French-American restaurant from one of New York's most acclaimed chefs, Daniel Boulud. Between all the hotels and fancy clubs, there seem to be more flags flying on this block than at the United Nations.
With subway stations at Grand Central, Bryant Park, and Times Square all within walking distance, the hotel is ideally situated near every major train line -- it's just about the most connected location anywhere in the city.
Nearby are the Museum of Modern Art, the famous 5th Avenue shopping district, and Bryant Park, which in the winter months is home to the city's only free ice-skating rink. Other attractions within short walking distance include Radio City Music Hall, site of the famed Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes (as well as numerous popular concerts throughout the year); Rockefeller Center, which houses NBC Studios and the Top of the Rock observation deck; and the Chrysler Building, one of the city's most beautiful skyscrapers.
High-quality beds, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and iHome docks make the rooms plenty comfortable.
Rooms have a stately design with an earth-tone palette, black and white photography from Irving Underhill, and leather headboards. Technology is up-to-date -- with all the basics expected of a hotel of this category -- and while most rooms are a tad small (but average by New York standards), they're comfortable, appealing and modern.
The hotel features two room types: Deluxe Rooms (which offer either king or queen beds) and Premier Suites, which have a separate living area with a sofabed and can be connected to up to two other rooms to make a multi-room suite.
Free Wi-Fi, a free 24-hour fitness center with little-used equipment, and a small business center
Matilda, the longtime Algonquin house cat, is happy to make new friends. The hotel provides your pet with free bowls and litter boxes.
Since owner Frank Case first adopted a stray cat as the Algonquin's house pet back in the 1930s, the hotel has always kept a cat, naming it Hamlet if a boy, Matilda if a girl. The current resident, probably Matilda XXXVI, stays at the hotel for free -- and so may your pet. But you'll have to sign a waiver to pay for any damage incurred. As for a weight limit, the hotel judges on "an individual basis" -- but have welcomed everything from Irish setters to Snowball the Backstreet Boys-dancing cockatoo.
Pet owners who do participate in Algonquin's pet program receive a welcome kit with a list of services in the area, and their room will be stocked ahead of time with food and water bowls, a floor mat, a litter box, and gloves and waste bags.
The Algonquin has several dining options, and just outside, excellent restaurants abound.
A 181-room Midtown West landmark where The New Yorker magazine was founded, the Algonquin uses old-world style, tuxedo-clad waiters, and an in-house cat to attract quiet couples, business travelers, and the occasional Nobel laureate. After extensive renovations in early 2012 rooms have a more contemporary look, with large black-and-white photos, stylish furnishings, and new bathrooms with glass-enclosed walk-in showers and L’Occitane toiletries. But while the hotel’s restaurants and bars are worth checking out for their long literary history, they’re somewhat overpriced and serve pretty standard fare. Still, its central location a block from Times Square and within walking distance to a myriad subway lines makes it a solid pick both for leisure and business travelers who want to be in the thick of the action.