Hotel Piccadilly: toast of the Theater District

New York hotels go in and out of style just like clubs and bars, and once they outlive their usefulness, the get a date with the wrecking ball.

That’s the story of the Hotel Piccadilly. Its era as a hot place to book a room or meet for a drink was from the 1930s to the 1950s.

With about 700 rooms on West 45th Street, it was in the heart of the Theater District. “Smartly located in the center of everything” was its very midcentury-sounding slogan.

The Piccadilly also had the Piccadilly Circus Lounge, “gaily colorful spot in the thick of theaterdom patronized by show folk and show goers,” states a 1949 restaurant guide, Knife and Fork in New York.

It’s no surprise, of course, that when Times Square and midtown west went downhill, so did nearby hotels like the Piccadilly.

In 1982, it was torn down—and the Marriott Marquis built on its old site.

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55 Responses to “Hotel Piccadilly: toast of the Theater District”

  1. Brooks Says:

    Here’s a sad confession: I don’t remember the Piccadilly, despite having worked on 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue from 1980-81. What a grand old building.

    Wish I could turn back the clock, knowing what I know now. Wish I’d paid closer attention to the old city. It just never occurred to me that so much of it would vanish in a few short years.

  2. Ricky Says:

    The first time I came to New York for a college trip with the theatre department and we stayed at the Piccadilly. It was directly across from Shubert Alley. I can remember our room had wallpaper with huge yellow flowers on it and matching bedspreads. One night there was a horrible, very loud clanging noise that woke me up. I called down and the operator told me, in a strong Brooklyn accent, “That’s just the radiator, hon”. Being an innocent boy from the midwest, who had never had radiators, I said “Oh, thank you.” and went back to sleep.

  3. Alex Says:

    They also tore down the original Helen Hayes theater on 46th to accommodate the Marriot Marquis.

  4. Jo Says:

    I stayed at The Piccadilly with my dad when I was 10. We were on an epic 4month road trip from Australia to honour my late mothers wishes.She had passed away 2 years earlier.She had always wanted to travel to America and they had made plans to take me together. It was 1975 and the hotel was kind of seedy and run down as was most of Times Square but I thought it was the most exciting place in the world. I watched the Winston cigarette guy blow smoke rings from a billboard from our window !!

    • john Says:

      my girlfriend and I were mesmerized by those same smoke rings (torture for her…she just stopped smoking!)…guess that’s a sign of great advertising it stuck in both our memory-slots…she was appearing with Anthony Newley in “The Roar of the Greasepaint”..as you said…great location to walk to work….run-down environs….best wishes John Michel

  5. Cindy Says:

    I recently found a Piccadilly Circus Bar folder with a photo of my parents on their honeymoon dated February 12, 1945. My father was originally from Boston and my mother was from Fort Wayne, IN. Although they are both deceased, it is a wonderful souvenir which I am pleased to have discovered.

    • Lisa Says:

      any chance you can send this photo to me? My Grandfather owned the Picadilly hotel and I am making a Documentary about it. Thank you,
      Lisa
      eastmanaz@gmail.com

      • Kate McCarthy Says:

        Hi Lisa – just to let you know there are numerous items on EBAY associated with the ole infamous Piccadilly NYC.I have bought several ole postcards and am thrilled to hear that your GrandDad owned it !
        I must tell you that, the Hotel Piccadilly is one of my most favorite childhood memories. My Dad was the Master Carpenter/Manager of the Booth Theatre at 222 W/ 45th St., right across from the hotel for over 40 yrs.. Since my Dad had to work every single major holiday, we had all our family holiday dinners at your hotel. We were a family of 8 – Mom, Dad, 3 sisters and Grandpa & Nana living with us. We always loved the food, the atmosphere and knew all the wonderful waiters and bartenders ! We especially loved the Scandia smorgasboard and everyone was always so kind to us. I think I drank well over 100 “Shirley Temples” from the Circus Bar. We had so many fantastic times there over so many years and were heartbroken when we found out its fate. Still to this day, I miss the Hotel Piccadilly sooooo much and will never forget our cherished times there.
        When will your documentary be done ? Sure would love to see it and hear more about your GrandDad’s history of ownership.
        You can reach me at katemcc2004@yahoo.com
        God Bless – regards, Katie.

      • Irene Guerette Coady Says:

        Kate,
        Thank you so much for your reply.That’s the right theatre I was looking for. I wish i could go back in time and spend a whole week in the old New York City.

        Irene C.

      • Ina Plantus Says:

        We would all love to see the documentary…let us know when it is completed.

  6. Don DeVito Says:

    My Mom & Dad introduced me to the Piccadilly in1940. Every time after that I stayed there, every time I was in NYC the 3 sons were playing there at that time . A lot of good memories. I could not believe they tore that building down it was beautiful.

  7. Vicki Connelly Says:

    Trying to date a photo which was in a Piccadilly Circus Bar folder. The cover pictures a drawing of a topless woman set inside a painter’s palette. The writing on the bottom of the Piccadilly Circus Bar folder is “The Home of the Three Sons.” My father and uncle are pictured with their army and coast guard uniforms, respectively. They are sitting with their 2 sisters. As my grandfather died before the end of WW II, it’s possible the men were on leave to attend the funeral OR that the war was over and they had come home. Any help to approximate the time frame of this photo would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Matthew Harrison Says:

      Vicki,
      The picture would have to be between 1940-1947. The Three Sons were at the hotel between these dates.

  8. JOE KAISER Says:

    WE STAYED AT THE PICCADILLY SEVERAL TIMES IN THE EARLY 1980′S, AND BY THEN ITS DAYS WERE NUMBERED. BUT THE NOSTALGIA ALONE WAS WORTH THE SEEDY ROOMS AND RUN DOWN LOBBY.

  9. Melody Says:

    I stayed at the Hotel Piccadilly when I was only 16 years old. There were 6 of us and a chaperone from Virginia Beach, VA. We were either journalism or annual students there to attend the Columbia Scholastic Press Association workshops for 3 days. I was editor of the school paper at the time and was a moderator of one of the workshops. There was a coffee shop on the first level to the right of the lobby entrance. The manager was Puerto Rican and he was speaking Spanish making fun of our southern accents. He was really surprised when I said something to him in Spanish and from that moment on, the staff loved to see us come in. New Yorkers at that time really seemed to love Southerners….as many loved talking to us. I was told they could recognize us immediately as non-New Yorkers because we were always smiling.

    I remember going to Birdland, a very famous (and now gone) night club. At sixteen, you could get in but were placed in an area where no alcohol was served. Count Basie’s band was playing that night. The one guy that was with the group was hungry…and ordered a sandwich. We were blown away by the price of that sandwich.

  10. Ina Says:

    The Piccadilly Hotel was a great hotel…used to stay there for long week-ends with my 2 girl-friends when I was in my late teen years…such memories!! We always requested the top floor-loved looking down. Wish they didn’t demolish it so I could see it again!

  11. Buster Says:

    My first time to stay in NYC was in Dec. of 1981. I was there to see Tennessee play in the garden state bowl. We stayed at the Piccadilly and thrilled to be staying in the middle of Times Square. The thing I’ll always remember is the iron pipe radiator could not be turned off. It was 21* outside and we had the window wide open. I was very sad when they closed it and tore it down. It was such a beautiful place.

  12. WHAMMO! Says:

    Is that the Piccadilly where Jon Voight stays when he first gets to NY in “Midnight Cowboy”?

  13. Harry Says:

    My first memory was around 1943 with my parents on a l-o-n-g train ride from North Carolina packed with service men. The hotel was packed with service men, and also West Point Cadets who used the Piccadilly as a gathering spot. My fondest memory was in 1957, when again from N.C,,.I spent a week in New York at the Piccadilly with with my then beautiful girlfriend. She was mistaken many times for Elizabeth Taylor. Great memories of the Piccadilly.

  14. Colleen Says:

    My high school drama club stayed at the Piccadilly in May of 1970 and 1971, There were about 45 teens and 6 chaperones. The first year there was a senior class from Georgia so one chaperone parked himself on a bench out side our room which was near the elevators. The halls were like an H with the elevators in between. Each year we saw 3 Broadway shows and toured NYC. I would not let my kids take that trip now a days. I wish that I could see more actual pictures of the Piccadilly.

    • John Says:

      Let your kids take the trip (if they want to). NYC is so much safer “now a days” than it was when you made the the trip in ’70 & ’71. It is a LOT more expensive, but it is an experience they will never forget, just like you won’t ;^)

  15. Donald L Wallace Says:

    My brother stayed in the Picadilly in the late 60s when he was on leave from the Army. In 1976 he and I took a vacation trip to NYC and he wanted to stay there, so we did. It was, frankly, a bit of a dump. But the name alone as well as the seedy location fueled all kinds of jokes for many years afterward. :)

    I found a sewing needle with thread in it stuck into the comforter on my bed, yikes!

  16. Joe Says:

    Went to a Jr Naval Academy calle Leonard Hall in Md and stayed at the piccadilly in March of 1966 as we were there to march in the St Patricks Day parade. My fondest memory of the hotel was lighting paper airplanes and launching them from the window, watching them soar out of sight beyond the ramparts above the lower follows. I was 12 years old, what can you expect?

  17. MAUGERIE Says:

    Je viens de retrouver une pochette d’allumettes de l’hôtel Piccadilly de New York – C’était à l’été 1974 – Jeune français je visitais New York pour le 1ere fois avec Hélène, mon amie québécoise, et nous avons passé plusieurs nuits dans cet hôtel immense et vieillot mais qui avait une âme – J’ai conservé une immense tendresse pour Hélène, qui aurait pu devenir mon épouse si nos vies n’avaient divergées et cet hôtel participe de cette mélancolie

  18. Peggy Says:

    I’ll always remember the big blue flowered wallpaper of the Piccadilly Hotel fondly. From the porter who rubbed his fingers together meaningfully when I arrived to the man who ran the lobby magazine kiosk who laughed when he first saw me and asked, “Where are you from?” — I had a great time there.

    I lived at the Piccadilly Hotel from September until December of 1974. I was twenty years old. What a blast! The heart of the theater district, Times Square, lights and life were all around me. I had a place to stay, but barely anything to live on. Forget taxis, I could barely afford the subway — or food. I remember walking everywhere.

    My friends and I were always finding the city’s cheapest deals: theater tickets at bargain prices, banks giving away peanut butter, Columbia Pictures 50th anniversary free all night show. Word on the deals always spread quickly. It was a wonderful time.

    I remember my first night there. My friend Annie and I went to a club to hear Sonny Rollins play — in person. I had never been to a club before. I’m pretty sure that there weren’t any in my home town. We paid the outrageous sum of five dollars for a private table in the bar. Priceless.

    On the way back to the Piccadilly, we walked along Broadway, not realizing that we had attracted a crowd, but wondering if we could find the hotel again as we wound our way through the heart of Manhattan at 1:00 a.m. We weren’t really worried about being lost, but I was really relieved when one of those fabulous horse-drawn carriages from Central Park drew alongside us. Annie asked directions to the hotel. The driver answered, and then struck up a conversation. Even though we explained that the five dollar cover charge had been all of our money so we couldn’t afford a carriage ride, the man followed us all the way home to the Piccadilly Hotel..

    He asked us where we were from and told us about driving the carriage around the park. It felt magical. Now that I’m all grown up, I realize the man was probably worried about two young girls who were obviously out of their element. At the time, I just thought he was really cool. I guess I still think that, but for a different reason.

    As to why people asked me where I was from, wherever I went in New York City, I blame the red toggle coat and the excited smile. I wore both of them everywhere.

  19. Irene Guerette Coady Says:

    My first husband and I spent our honeymoon there in May of 1955.. I had never been in the big city before and looking out the window from our room I could see the entrance of a theater with beautiful lights by the entrance. Our room was small and I remember the radiator in the bathroom, that’s where I laid the rinsed out nylons to dry overnight..I wish now that I remembered more , i know it was a great big hotel , I felt like I was in a dream.

  20. Deanie Wynings MacDougal Says:

    I remember as a young girl staying summers at the Piccadilly Hotel (mid 1950′s). We also would take the train Thanksgiving night to NYC so mom could do all her Christmas shopping and of course we would stay at the Piccadilly. I would love sitting in the lobby watching the people, or dad taking me to the Circus Lounge to have a Shirley Temple while we waited for mom to get ready for the theater.
    Great memories from my childhood.

  21. Carol Turnbull Says:

    My first husband and I stayed there for our honeymoon in 1964..My parents stayed there on their honeymoon in 1945..wonderful memories

  22. Don Williams Says:

    I worked for a Bank in Phoenix and was sent to NYC in the fall of 1970 to pick up a repossesed car then drive it all the way back to Arizona. A Phoenix travel agent booked me into the Piccadilly. Upon entering the room and closing the door I turned around and found it had a good 2 or 2 locks! Being a young guy from what was then a small town of Phoenix, Arizona I was somewhat alarmed, however went on to enjoy a great 3 days in NYC!

  23. Marilynn Says:

    well my sister was the executive housekeeper there and sadly she passed away there in 1982 I worked there in the laundry room on wknds with the nicest bunch of maids houseman and especially the owner Mr K he was so good to my 2 kids,,, Carmen I miss you & Sammy & Bernice find me on facebook….

  24. peggie Says:

    For all you hotel Piccadilly lovers I have a piece of nostalgia,from this great hotel, a vintage wooden hanger that advertises the hotel. Please contact me if you would like to own a piece of this magical place, It would be great if one of you owned it instead of the eBay route.

  25. Marilyn Cann Says:

    We are going back to New York and I looked up our old Hotel that we stayed at in 1959. Yes it was the Hotel Piccadilly. There were 5 of us and we travelled by car from Victoria B.C. We picked up my sister and 2 of her friends in Portland Ore. and away across the country we travelled. My husband and 4 women. It was theatre time when we arrived and one of the girls was Japanese and as we unloaded the car a crowd gathered around because they thought she was an actress since Flower Drum Song was playing at a theatre just across the street. I also have a wooden hanger with the name on it and many times let it bring back memories. Great Memories.

  26. Kate McCarthy Says:

    Irene, if you were looking out on 45th St, it was the BOOTH THEATRE at SHUBERT ALLEY.

  27. Ina Plantus Says:

    Peggy, I just read your comment, I would love the hanger, if you still have it todate. My e-mail is: IMP129@hotmail.com. Thank U!!

  28. George Germann Says:

    Iam now 65. From small town in \Pa. when I was kid my dad went to NYC & Iwent along. Just looked, still have wooken coathanger taken (stolen) on that mid-1950s trip. Iam not only one I see. George

  29. Mike Monroe Says:

    In 1964, when I was 10 years old, my family took the vacation road trip of a lifetime, driving our brand new ’64 Impala from Amarillo, Texas to New York City for the World’s Fair. Our home away from home in NYC was the Picadilly! The whole experience — the fair, the Empire State Building, Time Square, even the Picadilly itself — well, it was almost sensory overload for that little Texan! Magnificent trip! Magnificent memories!

  30. Orvin Brenden Says:

    We spent our honeymoon at Picadilly December 1953. first time visit to New York. our room was directly over the entrance. We purchased two apples from street vender and placed them on the outside window sill, to chill. to our surprise they were gone when we went to retrieve them later. I think we were on the seventh or eighth floor. There were two large stains on the walk right next to the doorman. I can imagine the surprise when the projectiles struck the pavement. We worried he may have been hit but decided to keep our part in the episode a secret. It was windier than we thought that cold day in December.

  31. Bonnie MacKay House Says:

    I used to stay at the Piccadilly Hotel in the 1940′s with my parents. We lived in Peru and my father was in the oil business. Every two years we were given a lengthy vacation and passed through NYC. Before returning to Peru, a gentleman who had an office on the Lobby floor, acted as a go between to help us get “deals” on cars, luggage, etc. I’m wondering if anyone remembers his name. We spent a good week or more there buying clothes, shoes, and other necessities to last for the next two years. My Dad would get a new car and this fellow at the hotel would arrange the purchase and the shipping of the car from the City to Peru. I believe in either 1948 or 1950, I saw TV for the first time in one of the hotel rooms. Never saw it again until we moved permanently to the US in 1952.

  32. Stewart Says:

    My grandmother took us every New Year’s to New York City from smalltown Pennsylvania. It was one of the highlights of our year as little kids. We stayed at the Picadilly Hotel and, like so many other posters here, I remember staring out the windows at the theatres across the street (“Irma La Douce” was playing at the Plymouth Theare) and thinking what a magical city New York was. I say “was,” because so much of that magic has been destroyed by the wrecking ball since then and replaced by what resembles an overpriced generic food court and shopping mall for tourists. Yes, it’s a much safer place, but so much of its magic and history has been ploughed under in the name of progress.

  33. jack glavey. Dublin. Says:

    stayed there on my very first trip to the States. arrived at JFK from IRELAND wearing a wool suit with temperatures in the high nineties. what a memory./ as for the hotel it couldnt have been more convenient for everything.

  34. Matthew Harrison Says:

    I have an original menu from the Hotel Piccadilly, dated from 1944. It belonged to my grandfather, who visited the hotel during WWII. The cover depicts Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite singing group, The Three Sons, and is signed by all three group members. I am interested in finding out more about this piece of history if anyone can help me. I have searched the internet many times and am unable to find another piece like it!

  35. Ray Richardson Says:

    During our senior class trip at Eastertime 1961 we stayed at the Piccadilly . Being from rural Northern NY the hotel was really something, and convenient for our many sojourns by foot. I saw John Kennedy’s favorite play- “The Best Man” starring Frank Lovejoy and Lee Tracy. My sister’s class stayed there too in 1951.

  36. Andrew P. Says:

    My grandmother Dorothy was the reservations manager at the Picadilly in the 1970s when I was a little boy — have wonderful memories! Does anyone know if that documentary has appeared? It was a pleasure reading all of these reminiscences!

  37. Vince Says:

    I have the receipt from my grandparent’s wedding night at the Piccadilly in 1939, along with an envelope and piece of the stationary in a frame. I am gathering other items from the hotel (post cards, etc) to make a nice display with the receipt at the center. Would love to see the documentary when it is available

    • peggie Says:

      Hi Everyone, I am putting this out there one more time, because I would love for someone to own this piece of Hotel Piccadilly memorabilia, that will treasure it. If you would like to buy The Hotel Piccadilly wooden hanger, please contact me, Thanks Peggie.

  38. John Says:

    My first trip to NYC was with my parents in March 1947 at age 14. We stayed at the Picadilly and I loved every minute of it. Being from GA I felt the Georgian Room had to be named that just for us and like others I had my quota of Shirley Temples in the Circus Bar. I got to see Sonya Heine’s Ice Capades, Radio City Music Hall, and the top of the Empire State Building. My dad bought me Benjiman Pump BB gun that made me the happiest kid on earth. It was the most exciting trip I have ever taken and I still think about the old Picadilly every time I am in NYC.
    John from Georgia

  39. Patty Says:

    We stayed at the Picadilly in 1978 for our 1st trip to NYC. We were all young (14,17,19, & 22) traveling with our mom. We still laugh about our “culture shock” of the big city. Some of the memorable things that happened: our rooms weren’t ready at check-in time, our rooms weren’t next to each other, but 4 floors apart, my siblings room hadn’t been cleaned, people were stuck in the elevator when we arrived, the doorman had a big hole in the armpit of his jacket yet tried to look important, the lights would go off in our room and the front desk told us to “try slamming the door”, which worked!, the bellhop kicked the door of our room to get the stuck door to open, there was a huge “potato looking” bug on the floor next to my bed, and the list goes on! The best and most amazing part of our trip was that we got to see “Chorus Line” at the Shubert Theatre!

  40. James Martin Says:

    My dad worked as a bus driver for Trailways in the ’60s and ’70s. Trailways had some kind of contract with the Hotel Piccadilly for drivers to stay there. We lived in Albany and when I was a kid my father often took me to NYC and we would stay at the Piccadilly. When I was a little older, my friends and I would travel to NYC, flash a Trailways card and stay at the Piccadilly for free. I saw Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Todd Rundgren and lots of other bands. We would often be in somewhat alternate states of consciousness, but the staff didn’t seem to care. The funniest time was when we went to see Pink Floyd at Radio City in 1973. It happened to be St. Patrick’s Day and our high school’s band was marching in the parade. We invited a good portion of the band back to our room for a party afterwards. The small room was packed with drunken high schoolers in band uniforms with brass instruments, yet no one from the hotel bothered us.The last time I was there was the honeymoon for my first marriage in 1979. The neighborhood was pretty sketchy by then. They had tried to modernize the place a bit with an art deco style restaurant, but it was pretty run down and depressing. Still, I loved hanging out the window listening to all the energy of the city and imagining how it would have been in the 30′s. I’ve been to the Marriott Marquis and it just doesn’t have that old New York feel!

  41. Ann T. Says:

    I Googled ‘The Picadilly Hotel’ because just yesterday I found receipts, brochures, etc. in a box of things I saved from junior high. My parents always took the train from Akron to NYC the day after Christmas and we stayed there. I remember one New Year’s Eve seeing my first drunk man sitting on the curb and busting light bulbs! The ballroom was magical at age 13-14.
    I have many, many fond memories.

  42. Jerry Munoz Says:

    I stays at the pickadilly hotel in 1964, it was part of my senior trip from Kentucky, went to the worlds fair, we saw a lot of thing while in ny.,went on the subway, big city for a small town school senior trip, it was great.

  43. Jimmy M, Says:

    Stayed there one night in 1976 on way to Berlin, Conn. Our High School band were heading there to play at the High School in Berlin. Was something to see coming from a tiny place in North Western North Carolina. Remember eating in the restraunt inside the Motel. The Server would not give us any refills on soft drinks he said 1 was the general amount they served per meal.. The room was ok but didn’t sleep much a lot of noise outside. Also was funny the pimps on the sidewalks gave us cards about women they had.. Again you just don’t see that In our tiny town. Still was a exciting time a great memory.

    • john michel Says:

      the Scandia smorgasbord ( sp ? ) may have been the ‘ restaurant inside……I believe it was ” all you can eat “….. one night, also in the mid-70s I walked into the Scandia with a friend who was very much the size of those enormous Japanese wrestlers……the owner looked as if he was going to pass-out….or wanted to charge him three times.

  44. Joanne W Says:

    Trailways was still using the Piccadilly in 1981 when I started driving for them. The hotel was sadly worn by then, but it was an exciting first time in NYC for me. I remember whittling little soap bars into wedges to keep the room door from banging every time someone opened any other door on the hall, and since we used the lower floors the sounds of the sirens from the emergency./fire vehicles were always shrilling. Still, I remember the stays there fondly. Later we were switched to the Consulate and then to the Travel Inn (which is still there). Ah, memories.

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