“Truly a great book—unique, invaluable and unapproachable as the gold standard of the genre… Bemelmans got there first, more frequently, and better.” —Anthony Bourdain
Acerbic, colorful, and spirited stories from a bygone era: behind the scenes in a grand NY hotel, from the author of the Madeline books
Picture David Sedaris writing Kitchen Confidential about the Ritz in New York in the 1920s, which had the style and charm of The Grand Budapest Hotel…
In this charming and uproariously funny hotel memoir, Ludwig Bemelmans uncovers the fabulous world of the Hotel Splendide—the thinly disguised stand-in for the Ritz—a luxury New York hotel where he worked as a waiter in the 1920s. With equal parts affection and barbed wit, he uncovers the everyday chaos that reigns behind the smooth facades of the gilded dining room and banquet halls.
In hilarious detail, Bemelmans sketches the hierarchy of hotel life and its strange and fascinating inhabitants: from the ruthlessly authoritarian maître d'hôtel Monsieur Victor to the kindly waiter Mespoulets to Frizl the homesick busboy. Illustrated with his own charming line drawings, Bemelmans' tales of a bygone era of extravagance are as charming as they are riotously entertaining.
“[Bemelmans] was the original bad boy of the NY hotel/restaurant subculture, a waiter, busboy, and restaurateur who “told all” in a series of funny and true (or very near true) autobiographical accounts of backstairs folly, excess, borderline criminality, and madness in the grande Hotel Splendide… If you like stories about old New York as I do, this classic will have you laughing out loud.” –Anthony Bourdain
About the Author
Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) was an Austrian-born American writer and illustrator of books for children and adults. He travelled to American in 1914, at the age of sixteen, and worked for three years in the dining halls of what he called, in his autobiographical works, the Hotel Splendide. In 1926, he quit working in hotels to become a full-time cartoonist and made frequent contributions to the New Yorker, Vogue and Town and Country. He is perhaps most well-known as the author of the beloved Madeline books.
“An uproarious account of his life as a waiter at the thinly disguised Ritz-Carlton in the 1920s . . . He is a canny observer with a wry sense of humor, an innocent bystander who simply looks on. He’s like P.G. Wodehouse, with a touch of the Marx Brothers. . . . a delight from beginning to end.” --The Wall Street Journal
"Hotel Splendide, Bemelmans’s 1941, out-of-print memoir, which is being reissued by Pushkin Press this month, is a delightful passport to a long-lost era" --Air Mail
“The original bad boy of the New York restaurant/hotel underbelly. Bemelmans is always funny, insightful and dead on target.” --Anthony Bourdain “Freshness and vitality…wit, humor, pathos, and the inimitable Bemelmans’ touch.” --Kirkus Reviews
“The kitchen memoir to end them all.” --Slightly Foxed
“A seemingly light-hearted yet deceptively dark memoir of [Bemelmans'] time working in a luxury hotel in 1920s New York. A gently flowing, delightfully gossipy read, I could easily picture the entirety shot in black-and-white vignettes, Woody Allen style.” --Irish Times
“A charming memoir.” --Independent
“Immensely fun and an absolutely charming book... a beautiful classic” --WAMC North East Public Radio Book Picks.