Okay, today is “Casual Free Food Friday," but today it’s not so much about free food and more about a visit to an iconic hotel and the bar within—The Warwick Hotel. The hotel was built in 1926 and actor Cary Grant lived in this hotel for 12 years and some celebrities that stayed here regularly back in the day were, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and The Beatles, who had a famous “junior” press conference here in 1966 before their second and last time playing Shea Stadium. The Rolling Stones and lots of the bands that played on The Ed Sullivan Show stayed at this hotel through the years. I’ve stopped in the bar here before and the bartenders are always nice people with some good stories. It’s a classic, nice dark, cozy hotel bar. And there’s always a decent snack mix available on the bar for free, and who knows, I might even spring some cash for a snack at the bar. We’ll never know till we go!
Here it is, the majestic Warwick Hotel. It kind of looks like you've stepped back in time while looking at this classic NYC hotel.
Here's a section of the front lobby.
There's photos on the walls of some of the famous people that stayed or lived at the hotel in the past. This is actress Marion Davies who was the mistress of William Randolph Hearst who built the hotel in 1926. Hearst set her up with a floor on the hotel. Times sure have changed, back then if you were rich and famous you built a hotel to house a mistress in, these days you get a hooker and destroy a room in a hotel. Progress?
Here's a shot of a young Liz Taylor who was a regular at the hotel in the '60's and '70's.
Here's the aforementioned Cary Grant with actress Natalie Wood Audrey Hepburn.
And here's the Beatles who stayed here whenever they played on TV shows in New York or at Shea Stadium.
And here's the main attraction, at least for me, the bar at the Warwick Hotel.
The bar itself is small and highly polished wood and seats about twelve people.
I found a seat at the end of the bar and here's Jack the bartender with an ice cold bottle of Budweiser. Jack's been a bartender here for 13 years. We talked about the history of the hotel and some of the famous people that have stayed and lived here. Jack told me that gangster Meyer Lanksy lived in the hotel and that Paul McCartney has an apartment down the street and frequently comes in to the bar to have a margarita when he's in town. He said that the roof scene from the Seinfeld/Jay Leno Superbowl commercial was filmed on the roof of the hotel. Jack told me that Seinfeld, who lives nearby, stops in the bar occasionally as well.
Here's a newspaper clipping that Jack keeps behind the bar of Elvis walking into the Warwick back in 1956. It seems Elvis wasn't fond of New York and that he felt rejected in the big city. I know that feeling, I've amassed a whole stack of rejection letters through my years here!
And, as promised, free snacks at the bar! it's the classic triple bowl, pretzel, cracker, nut, wasabi thingy presentation. I wonder why the DOH allows this at bars, yet bans the cheese bowls at Sardi's? It doesn't make sense, but what the hell, I'm going to enjoy the free snacks before these get taken away!
Here's the spot I staked out at the bar.
Everyone is texting away at the bar...
Meanwhile, my notes are taken the old-school way, on a cocktail napkin.
Check out this jackass, he's got his iPad and iPhone going at the same time. iHate him.
And a final long shot of the Warwick Hotel Bar.
I found some vintage photos online of the Warwick Hotel. Here's one of Elvis in his suite at the Warwick, reading fan mail.
This is a photo from 1965 of Beatles fans rushing the hotel when they were staying there.
Here's the Beatles, safely inside their suite at the Warwick, being interviewed by Cousin Brucie.
And here they are at their final press conference at the Warwick Hotel in 1966. Soon after they would sprout moustaches, become psychedelisized and morph into Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band a year later.
The Warwick Hotel
65 W. 54th St. (Near 6th Ave.)