www.benlovejoy.com | Concorde | Our trip: Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria is perhaps the most famous hotel in the world. Usually with room rates to match, but the drop in both business travel and tourism following September 11th hit luxury hotels hardest of all, and Birgit managed to find an excellent promotional rate on the web.


The Waldorf Astoria resulted from a family feud! William Waldorf Astor and his aunt, Caroline Astor, were neighbours who did not exactly get on. William Astor tore down his mansion and built the Waldorf Hotel to piss her off. Caroline Astor's response was to allow her son to rip down her mansion and build the Astoria Hotel right next door. When they eventually patched up their differences, a connecting hallway converted the two hotels into the Waldorf Astoria.

The original hotel was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building, and the present hotel opened two years later in 1931.


The decor has remained largely unchanged since then:


From a room to a suite ...

Many fine old hotels have been bought by chains, and the Waldorf is no exception: it's now owned by the Hilton group.

A miscommunication between the reservations centre and the hotel meant that they'd booked us into the wrong type of room. They initially handled it very badly, the desk clerk just shrugging and completely unconcerned about the fact that we weren't getting what we'd booked. His supervisor was no more helpful, and nor was his manager.

Now, this was 1am for us, so eventually I told them in a very loud voice that I'd had enough, I wanted the room we'd booked and I wanted it now. This resulted in a hurried phone call and the appearance of a more senior manager. He apologised profusely and assured me that it was now all taken care of. The room type we'd booked was not available, so he was upgrading us to a mini-suite.

I must, on some occasion, see what a full suite looks like, because a 'mini-suite' looks like this:

A kind of mini lobby area leading to the suite

An entrance hall

A large bedroom

Which is a corner room

En-suite bathroom, with bath, basin and loo

And walk-in closet

A comfortable living-room

Leading off the opposite side of the entrance hall

Also with en-suite bathroom (same equipment as the first)

And also with a walk-in closet

Two TVs hidden inside wooden cabinets, one with Internet access

Which we didn't need as we had broadband Ethernet for our laptops
- along with a fax machine with our own direct-dial fax number

Have 6-way plug adapter, will travel

The fire-escape map shows the relative size of our mini-suite and ordinary rooms

Although the hotel has been modernised in some ways (like broadband net access), it still has a delightfully old-fashioned feel when it comes to the decor. Every room is individually decorated and furnished, not like the usual identikit hotel chain rooms, and the old-world style is evident in all kinds of little touches:

The views were also quite impressive:


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