New York – The Algonquin Hotel has re-opened after a $3-million renovation that led to the property’s closing for the first time in its 102-year history. The hotel is owned by Denver-based Miller Global Properties.
The literary landmark, which opened in 1902 and was the home of the famous Algonquin Round Table and the birthplace of the New Yorker magazine, refurbished all public spaces and guestrooms. This work piggybacks on a five-year, $5 million renovation project at the hotel, bringing the total amount expended on recent refurbishments to $8 million.
“It was an unusual decision to close down a New York City landmark hotel for an entire month, but I’d do it again,” said General Manager Anthony Melchiorri. “Closing enabled us to complete the work more efficiently, without inconveniencing our guests in any way.”
The restoration covered all public spaces, including the world famous Oak Room cabaret, which has showcased legendary musical talents such as Harry Connick, Jr., Andrea Marcovicci, Diana Krall and Peter Cincotti. The Round Table Room, where Dorothy Parker and her witty companions met, has undergone understated changes that have maintained the look and updated the feel of the space. Tables and fixtures in the dining and entertainment outlets were refinished, carpeting replaced and furniture reupholstered.
Possibly the most-talked about part of the hotel, the historic Lobby, will boast a new Round Table, which will be unveiled late-September. A magnet for legends of stage, film and literature, the Lobby was frequented by the likes of the Barrymores, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and William Faulkner (who wrote his 1950 Nobel Prize address in his suite), among many others. One of the invisible new additions to the lobby is wireless fidelity access.
The most noteworthy guestroom addition is the new all-white Algonquin Beds, featuring duvets and 350-thread count sheets. The response to the beds has been tremendous, so much so that The Algonquin will be selling these sleepers in the near future. All 174 rooms and suites now offer Internet connections and larger workstations, ideal for road warriors conducting in-room business. Following the latest tech-trend, most of the rooms boast new plasma televisions.
The room décor has been brightened with vibrant new colors and designer fabrics in window treatments, furniture and bedding. Bathrooms now offer more counter space and new vanities. Last but not least in the decorating department, new artwork, in the form of innovative black and white photographs of the hotel, graces guestrooms.
Each guestroom was uniquely designed, with custom furniture for each room type. Some rooms received a three-in-one wall unit, designed specifically for the Algonquin, that serves as desk, television stand and armoire all-in-one. Other rooms received custom vanities and shelving in the bathrooms. “The overall intent of the new designs was to create a much more open and roomy feel,” said Melchiorri.
Melchiorri also announced that the Algonquin will soon introduce new menus in the Round Table Room and an innovative new drink menu in the Lobby Lounge. Other programs designed to help restore the hotel back to a pivotal position in the city’s arts and cultural scene will also be introduced. “We have a few surprises in store,” he said.
What was not changed? The original and exclusive New Yorker wallpaper, custom-designed by New Yorker cartoonist Robert Mankoff, remains a point of interest to guests as they stroll through the corridors. Complimentary copies of the magazine still greet guests as they enter their rooms and suites. Posted on tiny plaques outside guestrooms are pithy quotes from members of the Round Table.
“Our goal,” said Melchiorri, “was for the hotel to look the same but feel better. If you sit on it, walk on it, or touch it, we restored it or renewed it. We worked very hard not to change the character of our rooms or our hotel, and comments from our repeat guests confirm that we succeeded.”
He said guests have said essentially the same thing to him: “Thank you for not changing the environment and just making it better.” Many guests have also specifically commented about the comfort and desirability of the Algonquin’s new custom beds.
Algonquin Hotel Fun Facts:
Matilda, the hotel’s resident cat, is quite the star. She is the subject of the book, Algonquin Cat, illustrated by Hilary Knight, who also illustrated the famed Eloise books. Matilda roams the lobby, checks out incoming guests and visitors from her vantage point, makes friends with the children and keeps solo visitors company while they read or sip an Algonquin Signature Cocktail in the lobby. Matilda took a one-month vacation at The Ritzy Canine while the hotel was closed for the renovation.
The New Yorker’s legendary editor Harold Ross dreamed about creating a magazine “not for the lady from Dubuque” while on the staff of Stars & Stripes in Paris during World War I, along with future members of the Round Table Alexander Woollcott and Franklin P. Adams. He finally persuaded his fellow poker player (from the Thanatopsis and Inside Straight Club on the Algonquin’s second floor), Raoul Fleischmann (of the yeast fortune), to spend $25,000 to help him start the magazine. Several more installments of $25,000 from the generous Mr. Fleischmann helped get the New Yorker on its feet.
The famed Algonquin Round Table officially began in 1919, when a serendipitous gathering of friends came together to celebrate the return of Alexander Woollcott from his service as a war correspondent, and the resumption of his role as resident drama critic for The New York Times. That lunch, in what was then the Pergola Room (the present Oak Room), was so enjoyable that the newly formed group-Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Woollcott, Robert E. Sherwood, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun and soon thereafter Edna Ferber-met daily for lunch and soon moved into the main dining room. Until the early 30’s the Round Table group remained the most quoted circle of friends in literary history – wittier and less snobbish than Bloomsbury, less poetic than Catullus Circle in ancient Rome. With a decade of memories, the group slowly drifted away, some to Hollywood, some to playwriting, some to radio. The Round Table was the subject of “The Ten-Year Lunch,” Aviva Slesin’s Academy Award winning documentary of 1987.
The Algonquin was named “one of America’s 10 Best Historic Hotels” by Historic Traveler magazine…further noting its historical contributions to the City of New York.
For reservations and information please call 1-866-363-9011 or visit www.algonquinhotel.com.
A New York City landmark, the Algonquin Hotel is located in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, just steps from Broadway’s Theatres and world-class shopping. Home to Dorothy Parker’s famous Round Table and birthplace of the New Yorker magazine, the Algonquin Hotel is highly regarded by travelers the world over.
The hotel’s 174-guestrooms, which include 24 one-bedroom suites, now boast, dual-line speakerphones with data ports, high-speed Internet access and voice mail, umbrellas, and more. Many guestrooms now feature either flat screen or plasma cable televisions. Bathrooms come equipped with a hair dryer, robes and first-class amenities.
The hotel’s popular Oak Room, which has showcased legendary musical talents such as Harry Connick, Jr., Andrea Marcovicci, Diana Krall and Peter Cincotti, serves dinner and offers cabaret acts Tuesday through Saturday. The legendary Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s is the inspiration for the current Round Table Room serving traditional American cuisine breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Blue Bar and Lobby also serve cocktails, snacks and other beverages throughout the day. The hotel features a fully equipped fitness center and five meeting and function rooms, which accommodate groups from 10 to 175.