Wayfarer, Once N.H. Nerve Center, Loses Heat; Fox and NBC Pack Radisson

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Twelve-story buildings qualify as skyscrapers here, so when you come into town, the Radisson on Elm Street is one of the first things you see.

It’s the hotel where NBC, ABC and C-SPAN are all kipping, and it’s also where Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus drops and picks up reporters every day, and where New Yorker political reporter Ryan Lizza said he comes to have a drink at night.

The year 2008 will be remembered as the year the Radisson took the title of New Hampshire Primary Nerve Center from the Wayfarer Inn, about 10 miles southeast of downtown Manchester, in Bedford.

“You know, this is a tectonic shift with how it used to be,” said CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield as he roamed the Radisson’s lobby. “There was a time when the Wayfarer Inn was the center of the universe. Not anymore.”

“I’ve heard stories that there’s no heat in the restaurant at the Wayfarer,” said David Corn, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, also in a hallway of the Radisson. “The Radisson is much, much better.”

But the same reasons that make the Radisson so attractive—big, comfortable, well located—are probably what caused the Wayfarer, the old standby for the media, to fall to pieces.

It’s not a case of Indie-hotel charm losing out to the corporate culture of convenience. After all, the Wayfarer’s hotel sponsor is a Quality Inn, and what charms it has are a bit hidden behind a parking lot next to a Macy’s.

At lunchtime on Primary Day, the hallways were clogged at the Radisson; NBC’s political director Chuck Todd was leaving with a tall lady to get into their rented Cadillac to get some lunch; David Gregory was speed-walking through the lobby; Fox’s Mort Kondracke was looking for something to do. At least three Wonkette editors were logging in to the hotel’s wireless.

The night before, Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell were there, too, said a person present.

Mr. Greenfield was complaining because he was actually staying at the Wayfarer himself; it’s still stubbornly CBS’s hotel of choice.

“It was emphatically not my choice to stay there,” he said. “You should write that—emphatically. I’d prefer not to wait an hour before the hot water comes on.”

Wayfarer, Once N.H. Nerve Center, Loses Heat; Fox and NBC Pack Radisson