An official New York City landmark since 1993, the Waldorf Astoria occupies an entire city block of prime mid-town Manhattan real estate. This 47-story, 625-feet structure is one of the world’s largest art deco buildings, and as my home for a two-night NYC getaway.
The hotel, along with the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, offer 1,415 luxurious guestrooms and suites. Ascending the marble staircase to the main lobby, grand chandeliers glitter from above, and the Circle of Life mosaic welcomes you. I couldn’t help but to think of all the famous feet that have made their way over the same steps I had just climbed.
Composer Cole Porter made his home here for 25 years, and his piano rests in the hotel’s signature restaurant Peacock Alley. The Presidential Suite, has hosted every President since Herbert Hoover, and the Royal Suite was home to The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Black and white photographs line the property’s corridors. I spent time wandering through the halls, viewing the images and reading their captions. Famous faces of men wearing tuxedos and women in ball gowns smiled back as I fantasized about the romance and elegance of a bygone era.
Each guestroom and suite is decorated differently, with no two being exactly alike. They all feature bathrobes and marble bathrooms with toiletries from Salvatore Ferragamo. For in-room entertainment, a 42-inch flat-screen TV with premium cable and an iPod docking station is standard. Internet is complimentary for Diamond and Gold Hilton Honors members. For non-members, it’s $18.95 per day.
There’s a desk with plenty of electrical outlets to meet your technology needs. Avoid placing magazines over the engraved gold-plate on the desk, which clearly indicates where the outlets are located, or you might just miss them (as I did). The minibar, under the TV console, is well-stocked with a plethora of choices from Stella Artois Lager to San Pellegrino Mineral Water and anything else you may need for an in-room cocktail. There are no coffee makers in the rooms, but they are available on request.
Nineteen floors above the historic Waldorf Astoria grand lobby, you’ll find Guerlain Spa, offering a serene, French-inspired oasis complete with a rose-adorned lounge area and spacious treatment suites. Its 14,000-square-foot space features 14 treatment rooms, a nail salon, Fitness Center, and Grand Salon relaxation venue. Amazing city views are included.
The Waldorf Astoria boasts three restaurants. During my stay I had opportunity to dine at Bull and Bear Prime Steakhouse which is also home to one of NYC’s most recognizable bars of the same name. Although it is known for its steak, I opted for the shellfish platter which comes with oysters, Gulf shrimp, Maine lobster, jumbo lump crab and Alaska King crab, all laid out on a bed of crushed ice. Warm, drawn butter accompanied it on the side.
Breakfast at Oscar’s American Brasserie is a culinary pilgrimage. Oscar’s is named after legendary maître d’ Oscar Tschirky, the man credited with creating the Waldorf salad, eggs benedict and Oscar veal, among other dishes. (As a sidenote: red velvet was also created at the Waldorf.) The buffet restaurant offers two options: Continental, featuring a wide selection of baked goods, smoked salmon, cream cheese and fresh fruits; or American which includes everything in the Continental, plus a selection of hot items such as waffles, pancakes and eggs.
The Waldorf Astoria may not be labeled as chic, trendy and modern. But then again, that’s not what I was seeking and most likely not what its distinguished guests are after. Those who stay will find a timeless, elegant and glamorous retreat.