I am not usually a great fan of staying hotels, preferring instead the freedom and space afforded by self-catering accommodation. However, for short breaks a hotel is often the only option. If I do have to stay in a hotel I usually defer to a cheap one as I have so often found that the additional expense of a luxury hotel has not been justified by my experience of staying at the establishment concerned. A few years ago I found myself having to choose a hotel for a stay in New York but on that occasion I was very much determined to go the luxury route.
An Iconic Establishment
My change of heart had nothing to do with a sudden need for luxury. It was simply the case that I had been reading about the Waldorf Astoria. Even on paper the place had a special aura. It was an iconic institution and an homage to the Art Deco style. It was going to cost me an arm and a leg to stay there and as I made the booking I prayed earnestly that I would not be disappointed as I had been in so many other supposedly excellent hotels. As it turned out the Waldorf Astoria was a very special establishment indeed.
When I finally arrived at the Waldorf it was as beautiful as I had imagined. I had ways loved Art Deco interiors and this hotel was a showcase for everything that was elegant, classy and memorable about the style. I could have spent much of my trip just marvelling at the lobby but eventually I made my way to my room. Even the standard rooms at the Waldorf are enormous and I felt like a movie star settling into a penthouse suite.
The hotel was magnificent but ultimately it was the standard of the service that marked this hotel as the finest I had ever stayed in. Everything was done with truly fantastic yet understated class and two incidents stood out for me.
I decided to eat in the legendary Bull and Bear restaurant and booked a table for the first night. The service was excellent, the food fantastic and I had a wonderful evening. So good, indeed, that a couple of days later I decided to eat there again. This time I did not reserve a table and simply wandered down to the restaurant. I was astonished when the maitre d’ greeted me by name. That hotel has over 1500 rooms and the Bull and Bear receives many non-residents every day and yet this guy was able to remember my name. I was impressed.
I was even more impressed when I lost my pyjamas! Not because they were lost but the manner in which they were recovered. I had returned to my room to discover that my favourite nightwear had disappeared. I had left it in the bed and so it became obvious that housekeeping had taken it away with the sheets by mistake. I reported my loss to the concierge who promised to investigate. Later that evening there was a knock on my door. I peered through the spy hole to see what looked like a waiter carrying a silver tray. I was a little confused as I had not ordered room service and opened the door to explain. The waiter then lifted a silver dome with a flourish to reveal my neatly packaged nightwear beneath. What class!
I will always remember my visit to the Waldorf Astoria. The building was magnificent but the service was even better. So often it is the people that really make the difference.
Article by Sally Stacey