Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Algonquin by Barbara Quinn


My favorite spot for a drink and a chat in Manhattan is The Algonquin Hotel. The lobby is set up like a living room, filled with overstuffed couches and chairs that have comfy pillows to prop up your back. You walk in, sit down, and feel right at home immediately.It’s such an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city. The staff never intrudes and you'll find people reading quietly. For the price of one drink, (avoid the special drinks to keep the bill down) they will leave you be for hours and will provide a bowl of munchies. On the back wall there’s a painting of the famous people that used to hang out at the Algonquin including, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, and Harpo Marx. They met for lunch daily, exchanging witticisms, from 1919 to 1929 as the writer's Round table, and were known as The Vicious Circle.This hotel is the oldest operating hotel in New York and was one of the first to welcome women. Their house cat, always Matilda if a female, Hamlet if a male, has a chaise at the front door, and gets a birthday party each year. There's even a discounted lunch for struggling writers though it's probably still too expensive. And take a peek at the hallways whose wallpaper is made up of New Yorker cartoons.

The Algonquin is at 59 W. 44th Street, a short walk from the theater district. It’s always a treat to stop there after a show to dissect what we’ve seen with friends. This part of Manhattan has parking on the street and that’s another nice draw. Saturday, we parked on the street directly across from The Algonquin. Then we walked a short distance to a “Muni-Meter” and paid for two hours of parking.($4) We took the slip from the meter and placed it inside on our windshield. If there are no Muni-Meter spots available there’s always the Hippodrome indoor garage which is right opposite The Algonquin and is reasonable.

There’s lots of history not only at the Algonquin but on this block. Next door to The Algonquin is The Iroquois, a place where James Dean lived for several years. The New York Yacht Club (left) whose facade is cast to resemble the front of a ship is nearby.

I’m grateful each time I plop down in the Algonquin's lobby and soak in the history and tradition of the place.

4 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Beautiful place for a reasonable mini-vacation. Looks similar to the Monteleone.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Ohh, I've love to go -- never been to NY and one day I'm getting there, then we'll have a drink at the Algonquin....

Beautiful warm room....

Patresa Hartman said...

What a treasure!

I think that knowing so much about the backstory of a place and the nuances of its surroundings shows a real intimacy. And I think that's cool.

I'd love to visit!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

That's my favorite place in NY!

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