Today, and throughout its long and storied history, The Algonquin had relished its role as a gathering place for literary and artistic luminaries. Our earliest guest’s biting wit remains entertaining to this day. These “Round Table” members coined quips that are still oft repeated. But this is just the beginning of the story of The Algonquin. A multitude of firsts and fascinating stories continue to set us apart from all others.
One afternoon, Round Table member Edna Ferber arrived at The Algonquin in a new suit similar to the one Noel Coward was wearing. “You look almost like a man,” Coward said as he greeted her. “So do you,” replied Ferber.
Hollywood’s Adolph Zukor once offered Algonquin Round Table member George S. Kaufman a trifling $30,000 for movie rights to a Kaufman play. The playwright sent back a telegram offering Zukor $40,000 for Paramount.
Algonquin Round Table Member and actor Robert Benchley arrived home on a rainy day with a group of friends, and famously coined the phrase, “let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.”
“When I was growing up I had three wishes. I wanted to be a Lindbergh-type hero, learn Chinese and become a member of The Algonquin Round Table.” John F. Kennedy
Did You Know?
- The Algonquin is the oldest operating hotel in NYC and the first to have electronic key locks.
- Charleston oilman Ben Bodne bought the hotel as a gift for his wife.
- William Faulkner wrote his 1950 Nobel Prize speech in his Algonquin Suite.
- The Algonquin was the first leading New York hotel to welcome ladies traveling alone.
- The Algonquin Oak Room launched the careers of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Peter Cincotti and Jamie Cullum and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006.
- Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in Lerner's suite at the Algonquin.
- The Algonquin is the host of the annual Thurber Prize for best book of American humor.
- Our most frequent overseas visitors are from the UK, among them Gertrude Lawrence, Noel Coward (whose suite was dedicated in 2005), Laurence Olivier, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, Charles Laughton, Diana Rigg and Anthony Hopkins.
- Harold Ross secured funding for the New Yorker from a fellow poker player in the hotel's "Thanatopsis Pleasures and Inside Straight Club."
- Among teenagers who made the hotel their first home were Alabama's Tallulah Bankhead and England's Angela Lansbury.
- Algonquin honeymooners include Douglas Fairbanks and Orson Welles.
- Contrary to myth, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and their fellow wits never drank at the Round Table because of Prohibition.
- The Algonquin Round Table was the subject of The Ten-Year Lunch, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1987.
- Famous female visitors to the hotel range from Salvation Army Commander Evangeline Booth to Gertrude Stein to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
- The Algonquin is the home of the $10,000 martini. It comes with a single piece of ice - a diamond from the in-house jeweler, Bader & Garrin.