The Algonquin Hotel boasts many secrets. As the oldest hotel in the city, its secrets are ingrained in New York’s history even though few residents may know all of them. From a lineage of hotel cats — the resident cat is named Hamlet VIII — to the hotel’s famous Round Table which was once filled with esteemed critics, writers, and editors, the Algonquin Hotel‘s secrets lie at the bones of the historic landmark. It is for this reason that the Algonquin Hotel’s character remained strong when Stonehill Taylor redesigned various spaces within the building.
On July 26 and August 3, Untapped New York Insiders are invited inside the Algonquin Hotel for a tour of one of the oldest operating hotels in New York City and the opportunity to hear about its rich history and updated design. Throughout the tour, Sara Duffy, Principal of Stonehill Taylor, will guide Untapped New York Insiders through Stonehill Taylor’s revamp of the lobby, the Oak Room, Blue Bar, and the Round Table spaces. Become a member today (use code JOINUS for your first month free).
Tour the renovated Algonquin Hotel
This storied hotel is located in the Theater District at 59 W. 44th Street. Beginning with the men and women, including critic Alexander Woollcott and poet Dorothy Parker, who sat at the Round Table in 1919, the legacy of the hotel as a temporary home for storytellers and wordsmiths only grew. By 1956, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe composed the music for My Fair Lady, out of suite 908. The Round Table’s descendants at The New Yorker, a magazine founded with money won at a Round Table Poker Game, wrote a critique of the musical in 2018. Until recent years, the hotel offered a discounted lunch to aspiring writers.
Through the stories these writers told and the stories that spread through the boroughs about them, the Algonquin Hotel earned a reputation as a center for culture. Years after New Yorkers lurked to overhear fragments of conversation from the Round Table, the Blue Bar reopened in 1933 following the end of prohibition. Actor John Barrymore convinced the hotel manager to add blue gel over the lights. Decades later, the hotel reopened the Oak Room as a supper cabaret club where artists including Steve Ross, Andrea Marcovicci, and Barbara Carroll performed.
When Stonehill Taylor sought to redesign certain areas within the hotel, including the Blue Bar and the Round Table spaces, the preservation of history was a priority. Within renovated areas, design motifs that pay homage to the literary and theatrical characters that frequented the hotel are common. Richly textured furniture, velvet drapery, theatrical lighting, and optical illusions in art pieces accentuate the hotel’s longstanding culture.
“When the new owner acquired the property, they realized the condition of the hotel, although satisfactory, did not cast the hotel in the best light nor provide the type of room design expected by the consumer of today, both from an aesthetic and amenity standpoint,” designer Susan Caruso said. “We wanted to update the hotel and significantly enhance the guest experience, yet do so in a manner that respects the history of the Algonquin and provides guests with a residential and authentic New York experience.”
Of Stonehill Taylor’s renovations, its changes to the Blue Bar are some of the most significant. Named for its blue-hued lighting that allowed visiting actors’ faces to look their best in the post-Prohibition era, the Blue Bar originally existed in its own space next to the hotel lobby. Today, the bar sits in the hotel’s main lobby where incoming guests can appreciate its flattering glow and crafted cocktails. Menu highlights include cocktails named “Writer’s Block,” “Last Word,” and “The Algonquin.”
Stonehill Taylor added a final touch when redesigning the Algonquin Hotel: a renovated cat shelter for the hotel’s resident furry friend. Though a cat shelter originally sat upon the reception desk, Stonehill Taylor added custom shelving with cat steps and scratch-resistant materials. Hamlet VIII can now lead an even more comfortable lifestyle.
To pet Hamlet VIII, sit at the Blue Bar, or learn about renovations of the Round Table space, join Untapped New York at 6 p.m. on July 26 or August 3. The hotel’s stories might just jump out at you as you walk through its doors.
Tour the renovated Algonquin Hotel
Next, check out the Algonquin Hotel’s $10,000 martini!