Three New York hotels for literature lovers –

1. The Algonquin

Staying at The Algonquin feels a bit like stepping back in time to the 1920s. Designated a New York City historical landmark in 1987, it is one of Manhattan’s oldest hotels, where Dorothy Parker, George Kaufman and friends gathered for their famous literary lunches six days a week. These began at a long rectangular table in the Pergola Room, but later, as the unofficial gathering of icons grew, moved to a round table in the Rose Room (today the Round Table restaurant). While the hotel no longer supplies impoverished writers with free hors d’oeuvres, a signed copy of your book might get you a discount. There are also copies of The New Yorker, which was dreamt up in the hotel, on tap.

Today, The Algonquin is a vision of faded glamour, and with its low-lit nooks, wood-panelled walls and Persian rugs, has retained much of its atmosphere and quirk, despite a recent refurbishment. It’s also home to a fluffy feline named Matilda, the 11th resident cat since the then hotel manager, Frank Case, first took in a stray back in the 1920s.

While the bedrooms are small, all come with writing desks, and the beds are very comfortable. Anyway, with Times Square, Fifth Avenue and Broadway on your doorstep, you’re probably not staying here to hole up. If you really need space, book the loft-like John Barrymore suite with its mezzanine bedroom. 

For people-watching, cocktails or a quick bite to eat, the moodily lit Algonquin Lobby is great. For more formal dining, head to The Round Table, which offers a modern take on classic American food. Try Matilda’s crab cakes, the chicken Caesar or the Gonkburger with Gruyère, maple bacon and steakhouse mayo. There’s also The Blue Bar, which first opened when prohibition ended in 1933. Though it is among the few aspects of the hotel to have changed in feel since the refurbishment, it’s still a good spot for perfectly poured martinis. 

The hotel also has a 24-hour gym, free Wi-Fi, fashionable toiletries by Beekman 1802 and fresh coffee day and night in the lobby. Oh, and you can bring your cat. If you’re looking for an all-frills hotel, this is probably not the place for you, but for indulging your inner literary heroine, you could do no better.

Doubles from £280; read a full review and check availability

See our complete guide to New York’s best hotels

2. The Plaza

On Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, this château-style hotel first opened in 1907 and remains as decadent as ever. Must-do activities include high tea in The Palm Court, grazing in The Plaza Food Hall and a Red Vine Barrel Bath in the Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa. Brimming with literary connections both real and fictitious, the hotel was the venue for Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball in 1966, features in The Great Gatsby and is home to Eloise, the six-year-old prima donna of the children’s books.

Doubles from £450; read a full review and check availability

The Plaza

The Plaza

©2015 Richard Mandelkorn
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3. Hotel Elysée 

Between Madison and Park Avenues, this urban take on a private country inn has welcomed countless luminaries over the years, from Marlon Brando and Ava Gardner to Tennessee Williams – who lived for 15 years, and died, in The Sunset Suite. Today, it remains a much-loved home-from-home for many regulars, and its Monkey Bar, which started life as a dimly lit dive during the Great Depression and is one of the hottest dining spots in town, is part-owned by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

Doubles from £184; read a full review and check availability

Hotel Elysée

Hotel Elysée


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