by Michael, Director of Hotel Sales
I worked at the Algonquin many years ago and was drawn to it for the nostalgia and history it represents. At the time, it was a quirky hotel on club row surrounded by much more up-market hotels, but the Gonk (as we so lovingly referred to it) represented so much more than a hotel…it was an experience…it was stepping back in time where the spirit of the those that sat around the Round Table so long again were still there. Granted the names and faces were different, but the spirit was still in play. To that end, it was with great trepidation that I went to see the new renovation as I heard so many of the iconic elements that made the the Algonquin the Algonquin were stripped away. However, what I experienced upon entering the new Gonk quickly alleviated my fears—it’s not just a renovation but also a restoration. They have masterfully combined the timeless elegance of yesterday with the modern convenience of the 21st century.
The lobby still maintains its “parlor” like feel…often referred to as an oasis of serenity in a city that does not know how to spell serenity. The Blue Bar has been both expanded and updated—it will no longer be a dark bar serving wonderful cocktails but the new bar will create an experience, and those who often asked “why is this called the Blue Bar?” will never have to asked again. Much to the dismay of many, the Oak Room is no more. After having help launch the careers of Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr, Jaime Cohen to name but a few, it has now been transformed in to quite an elegant breakfast room to serve the many business travelers during the week. But just wait: new happenings are planned for the space that will put this iconic room back on everyone’s weekend’s itinerary.
The famous wallpaper that was designed by the illustrators of the New Yorker magazine is gone. However, what is lost in nostalgia is gained in the perception that the once dark hallways appear to be that much bigger and more inviting. Guest rooms still have that residential feel however, all the modern conveniences have been installed. The really most exciting improvement is the bathrooms. Those they thought the bathrooms was not user friendly are in for a surprise—the new bathrooms feature walk-in showers, ample lighting, and a functional sink area where one can place their personal items
All and all the Gonk is positioned to continue its grand heritage and will once again, welcome those travelers looking for some thing a bit different than saying in a big box hotel. The ghosts are still there…even Matilda is still in the house but one thing has changed…for the first time since 1902, an automatic ice maker has been added for guest convenience. Fear not though, guest can still call down to have ice delivered to their room complimentary as in days past.
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