Posts Tagged ‘New York’

I wrote this article for The Wall Street Journal, where it was printed on July 13, 1973.

Women Have Changed, But Women’s Hotels Remain Quite Proper

By Karen Sullivan

This hotel—the Amazon—was for women only, and they were mostly girls my age with wealthy parents who wanted to be sure their daughters would be living where men couldn’t get at them and deceive them…

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

The “Amazon” is Sylvia Plath’s fictional tag for New York’s Barbizon Hotel for Women.  Twenty years ago, when the poetess spent a month at the Barbizon, budding models and actresses filled the hotel’s 686 tiny, pink-and-green rooms.  The hotel had a reputation for strict propriety (permitting no men past the lobby), and for past residents who’d made it big like Grace Kelly and Joan Crawford.

The Barbizon’s house rules haven’t changed since then, and neither has the room décor (a ballerina print hangs above each bed).  But today, most young women aren’t in the market for such demure monasticism.  As a result, the Barbizon and other women’s hotels are in deep trouble, casualties of a changing life style.  The young career women who once flocked to them have detoured instead to the freedom of their own apartments.

There are a half-dozen women’s hotels in New York, and two or three scattered in other American cities.  According to one New York accounting firm that keeps track of residence hotel occupancy rates, a typical women’s hotel is only 40% to 50% filled—a decline of 6% since just last year.  “The trend seems to be accelerating,” says Robert Leone, a partner in Laventhol, Krekstein, Horwath & Horwath.  “Some years ago, these places were operating at close to 100%.”

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