My husband and I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Algonquin Hotel in New York City. You are probably wondering why I am writing about this on a Cat website instead of a travel website, well, there is a reason. For those that are not familiar with The Algonquin Hotel located in Midtown Manhattan, they have had a cat in-residence since the 1930’s. Their current cat, a Ragdoll named Matilda has been there since 2010 and I was eager to meet her.

The Algonquin was named a New York City landmark in 1987 and a literary landmark in 1996. From its beginnings in 1902 it has been a center for literary and theatrical life. Its location near Times Square and right in the Theater District made it a popular hangout for playwrights and theatre critics.

For 10 years, beginning in 1919 the famous writers of the “round table” had lunch their every day. Some of these members include Vanity Fair drama critic, Dorothy Parker and George Kaufman the playwright. Other famous clientele included Gertrude Stein, Mary Pickford and the Barrymores.

All that literary history is impressive, but my main concern was seeing the cat. She was the reason I opted to pay a little more money for this hotel instead of the one in which we usually stay. When we first arrived, I asked about her and she streaked past on her way to the baggage room. Another lady went right in to take her photo, but I didn’t want to be that pushy.

I was told she comes out after 11PM when the bar area quiets down. We didn’t go to the bar, but it is a large open area visible from the lobby. When we walked by to go to the elevator, we could see why Matilda would be in hiding as it does get rather noisy.

One thing I wasn’t aware of until after our visit was that Matilda is contained to the lobby area by a wireless fence like the one used for dogs. I find this very disturbing and would have expressed this to the staff if I had known. Apparently the New York City Department of Health is to thank for this. Back in 2011, they decided Matilda should not be near where food or drink is served. Before the fence, she had to be confined to the upper floors or on a leash.

MatildaMatilda doesn’t seem to mind her limited access and was quite comfortable. She has a tall cat tree on the lobby desk where she can supervise all the comings and goings of guests and staff. I am sure this is preferable to her humble beginnings. She was found in a box outside the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, NY. She is the third female cat to reside at The Algonquin.

In addition to the 3 female Matildas, there have also been 7 males, all named Hamlet. The first male was a stray that roamed in from the street in search of food. The owner, Frank Case named him Rusty and let him stay, but frequent guest, John Barrymore suggested a more “dignified” name so he was renamed Hamlet and every male cat since that times has been named that too.

Matilda is also up bright and early to greet guests starting at about 6 AM. I called the lobby at 7 AM and found out she was out. We headed right down as she was sauntering across the desk and right up into her tree. I was able to reach up and hand her the crocheted ball I made for her. But not quite far enough to pet her. The front desk staff even used the word “diva” to describe this Matilda.

Even though I didn’t get to pet her, she was still a wonderful hostess. She left 2 shiny apples, a glass bottle of water with 2 wine glasses. There was also a note from her and an adorable cat faced sleep mask. When we checked in, we also received a Matilda coloring book and in keeping with their literary tradition, a pre released copy of a novel.

The staff treats all guests like royalty and someone is there to hail a taxi for you at all times. After staying at The Algonquin, I never want to stay at another hotel. They offer special rates for military, senior citizens and Triple A members. If you are interested in staying there or just want to learn more about the history of the hotel, the link is:

Ellen writes the series 15 cats and meowing

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)