The rooms are spacious and lovely, the lobby bar dark and cozy, and the Midtown locale, steps from Bryant Park and Times Square, perfectly situated. And yet those are not even the best parts, because this hotel has a resident cat!
The Algonquin Hotel is storied, to be sure. This historic, pet-friendly hotel has both old-world elegance and a literary arts pedigree—writer and wit Dorothy Parker and thespian John Barrymore were among the hotel’s residents and frequenters, and the group of writers that regularly lunched there from 1919 to 1929 were the very ones that gave rise to the term vicious circle. Today, however, the hotel has a totally different reason for being regarded as catty.
The Algonquin Hotel, which happens to be the oldest continuously running hotel in New York City with a history that dates back to 1902, has an equally venerable feline tradition: the hotel has been home to a succession of “Algonquin Cats” since 1923. A stray cat named Billy was the first, kicking off a tradition that continues to this day. For 15 years Billy ruled the roost at the Algonquin and it seems that he was intent on a successor—just two days after his passing a stray cat wandered into The Algonquin; Billy’s replacement had appointed himself and was christened Rusty, though he would shortly be renamed Hamlet in honour of John Barrymore, who was a resident at the time.
Over the years the hotel has been home to a total of 12 cats, all of them rescues, in a lineage that includes seven Hamlets and three Matildas. The cats have proved a huge hit with guests, and the current Hamlet is no exception. Hamlet VIII came to the hotel from the Bide-a-wee shelter last July and took over in September.
If you’re in the Big Apple, stop by and say “Hi” or, better yet, book yourself a room. Not only will they welcome you, they’ll welcome your cat—free of charge.
The Algonquin opened on November 22, 1902. Single rooms cost $2 a night while larger three bedroom accommodations cost $10.
In 1980, author Hilary Knight immortalized The Algonquin Cat with his illustrations for a children’s book.