Six-minute walk from Times Square and Rockefeller Center
19 subway lines within four blocks, plus numerous restaurants and shops
Modern rooms have flat-screen TVs, comfortable beds, and iPod docks
Updated bathrooms with walk-in showers and upscale toiletries
Long literary history evident in 1920s decor
Famed Round Table Restaurant serves creative American cuisine
Blue Bar that first opened in 1933
24-hour fitness center with modern equipment
Business center and events space with professional planners
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Wear and tear is evident
Noise issues in many rooms, despite facing interior
Some rooms and bathrooms are tiny
Mini-fridges must be requested; no in-room kettles
Reports of overwhelming perfume smells in some rooms
A Midtown West landmark where The New Yorker magazine was founded, the 181-room, upper-middle-range Algonquin uses Old-World style, a literary theme, and a resident cat to attract tourist couples, business travelers, and the occasional Nobel laureate. Rooms underwent extensive renovations in early 2012, receiving a contemporary black-and-gold design and up-to-date bathrooms with walk-in showers and Beekman 1802 toiletries. However, some rooms have furnishings showing wear, overwhelming perfume smells, and noise issues, despite not facing the street. A restaurant and bar are worth checking out for their long literary history, but better options are within an easy walking distance. A gym and free Wi-Fi are offered, but no spa is on-site. Its central location a block from Times Square and within walking distance to multiple subway lines makes it a solid pick, but it's worth considering the more upscale The Iroquois.
Historic, literary-themed hotel popular with both business travelers as older vacationers
Located on the same block as the Harvard and Yale clubs, the 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 business travelers or couples over 50 touring the city. The latter park it on one of the many couches or chairs in the lobby with free coffee and tea or big shopping bags before heading out to a Broadway show; the former can be seen typing on their laptop or expensing some early-bird cocktails. After work, the blue-lit Blue Bar fills up with locals and guests alike.
Even though the hotel underwent a massive, multimillion dollar renovation in 2012, the Algonquin maintains its Old-World appeal -- from the iconic New Yorker covers displayed as framed pieces of artwork and wrought-iron staircases with marble steps that are on each floor, to the lobby's grandfather clock, wood Corinthian-style columns, and soft jazz music. Additionally, be on the lookout for the resident cat, currently the eighth Hamlet (all males are named as such, while female cats are named Matilda), named after famed resident John Barrymore who played Hamlet on Broadway.
Unfortunately, the often worn-looking decor, old or perfume-heavy smells, and tightly packed lobby are notable downsides. It's worth considering the similarly priced and next door Iroquois, which is quiet, classy, and more upscale.
Quiet, safe, and incredibly convenient -- between Grand Central Station and
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 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. Restaurants, shops, and bars fill the surrounding streets.
Nearby are the Museum of Modern Art, the famous 5th Avenue shopping district, and Bryant Park, which in the winter months is home to an 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, and flat-screen TVs, but cramped spaces and no fridges
Rooms have a stately design with dark-wood furniture and a black-and-gold palette seen in patterned carpet, gold walls and bed throws, black-and-white photography of old New York from Irving Underhill, and black-leather headboards. Out-of-focus artwork and books covering New York history or interior design are thoughtful decoration. As rooms were last renovated in 2012, some furnishings are showing wear. Also on the downside, many rooms and bathrooms are tight on space, have overwhelming perfume smells, and suffer from traffic noise, despite facing the interior and not the street. Guests must request mini-fridges, and all rooms lack kettles or coffeemakers. On the plus side, technology is up-to-date, including flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iHome docking stations, and other standard amenities include comfy beds, closets with wardrobes and safes, seating, and desks. Bathrooms are outfitted with glass-enclosed walk-in showers, Beekman 1802 toiletries, and hairdryers. Pullout couches are in all suites, which can help accommodate families, as no rooms have two beds.
The Round Table restaurant, situated at the back of the lobby, once hosted literary greats Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, and others. The restaurant is open all day and we saw many guests eating breakfast here, though food is fairly average. Also off the lobby and accessible via the street is Blue Bar, which is aptly lit in blue hues, serves speciality cocktails daily, as well as small bites for lunch through dinner. The lobby bar and lounge area also serves cocktails and light fare in the afternoon. As no coffeemakers or kettles are in rooms, the free coffee and tea in the lobby is convenient.
No spa is on-site, but a 24-hour gym is outfitted with a good range of cardio and strength-training equipment, as well as yoga mats and free weights. Various books are available for guests to borrow. The second floor houses a business center with two computers and a printer, meeting rooms, and an ice machine. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
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 male, and Matilda if female. The current resident, Hamlet (the eighth Hamlet after three Matildas), stays at the hotel for free -- and so may guests' pets. Guests will 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.