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The Algonquin New York

August 18, 2008 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent

The Algonquin Hotel has been synonymous with New York’s literary and theatrical high life for nearly a century. In the opulent lobby, guests could watch Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor walk by, or, some years earlier, listen in on the bon mots of Dorothy Parker and the legendary Round Table crowd. Earlier this summer, the Times Square boutique hotel completed a $4.5 million “soft” restoration that maintained its historic vibe while updating it for 21st-century tastes.

In the lobby, recessed lighting contrasts with pendant chandeliers that hang over the new furniture. The arrangement of the furniture is wide enough to be comfortable, but close enough to encourage conversation, whether between friends or strangers.

Reigning over the lobby is Matilda, the hotel’s resident cat who just celebrated her 13th birthday on August 7. Calm and sociable, Matilda tends to sit by the front door of the hotel and greet guests as they arrive. The Algonquin has been home to a cat since a stray wandered into the lobby one night in the 1930s, and was promptly adopted by then-owner Frank Case. In honor of Matilda and all of the other felines who have called the hotel home, the Algonquin has officially become a pet-friendly hotel.

Off to the side of the lobby is the Oak Room, one of the top cabaret spaces in New York. Only the best of the best are invited to play here, and from September to June, music fans can enjoy performances from such artists as Harry Connick, Jr., Maud Maggart, Paula West and (most frequently) Andrea Marcovicci. The Oak Room has also been updated with a new baby grand piano and state-of-the-art speakers.

The Decor
Upstairs, the hallway wallpaper is made up of New Yorker cartoons, designed exclusively for the Algonquin by New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff (The magazine was created by Harold Ross at the Round Table, and is indelibly linked with the hotel’s style). The sketches create an ambiance both amusing and sophisticated at once. Inside the rooms and suites, the window treatments, furniture, bedding and carpets have been updated with new fabrics and colors. The Algonquin has 138 Deluxe King or Queen rooms, 12 Superior Twin and 24 Premier Suites, which feature separate living areas with sofa bed. Most of the hotel’s twin beds were replaced with king-size beds, and families are encouraged to book suites with connecting rooms, if necessary.

The Algonquin’s rooms and suites are rather on the small side, and the views are nothing to write home about. But these are not really negatives: Rather than sit alone in their rooms, guests are encouraged to enjoy the Algonquin’s legendary lobby and relearn the lost art of conversation. Businessmen from Germany can strike up a conversation with tourists from Tennessee, and families in town for the theater can mingle with families eager to raid the nearby Fifth Avenue flagship stores. Food and signature cocktails are also available in the lobby, which is treated as an extension of the hotel’s Round Table Room Restaurant (According to legend, Round Table stalwart Alexander Woollcott invented the Brandy Alexander at the Algonquin. Whether it’s true or not, few upscale bars get the tricky drink better).

Deals and Contact Information
Packages and deals are available on the hotel’s website for families, pet owners, theater fans and girls’ getaways. Gary Budge is the hotel’s general manager, but Director of Sales & Marketing Jenna Arin ([email protected], 212-419-9325) is available to answer any agent inquiries. Rooms can be booked over GDS, and agents can email [email protected] for any special requests for their clients. The hotel offers booking agents a 10 percent commission.

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