Hotel Bemelmans

Hotel Bemelmans is a sharp, funny and thoroughly engaging collection of essays, two of them previously unpublished, exposing the behind-the-scenes workings of 1920s and ’30s New York upper-class hotel and restaurant life. These insightful essays are the work of the late Ludwig Bemelmans, best known for his charming Madeline kids’ books, and are illustrated with his signature playful line drawings. Celebrity N.Y. chef Anthony Bourdain, author of best-selling culinary exposé Kitchen Confidential, pens the introduction, describing Bemelmans as “the original bad boy of the New York hotel/restaurant subculture,” who came to the United States from his native Austria to work at the Ritz-Carlton after shooting a co-worker at his Uncle Hans’ restaurant. Entertaining throughout, Hotel Bemelmans’ character descriptions are particularly captivating: “Otto Brauhaus was an immense stout man. … Big as his feet, which gave him much trouble, telegraphing their sorrows to his ever-worried face, was his heart. For despite his conception of himself as a stern executive … he could not conceal his kindness.”