The Waldorf Astoria is not the best hotel in NY but is certainly one of the most charismatic. I try and stay there every year just to soak up the atmosphere, particularly at Christmas.
It is true that some of the rooms are tired and the plumbing can be temperamental but after traveling and staying in characterless ‘Business’ hotels throughout the year (why do so many designers use so much glass?) I look forward to my trips to the Waldorf.
If I were to recommend somewhere in NY for a frantic business trip it would not be the Waldorf but for an interesting stay, evocative of bygone times, I would. Take the tour on a Thursday morning and see behind the scenes to get a sense of the history of the place. Treat yourself to Sunday Brunch in Peacock Alley and watch the constant hubbub of activity in reception – you cannot help but think of Sinatra, Monroe and a myriad of Presidents walking through this area.
Queues at check in? Yes. Some surly staff? Yes. Rooms in need of renovation? Yes. But come on, this is true of almost any hotel in NY.
We should also be aware that a building as massive, and as old, as the Waldorf will absorb millions in renovation on an annual basis and still need more.
Hotels like the Waldorf Astoria will not be there for much longer, let’s enjoy them while they are. There are plenty of glass fronted, sterile, efficient alternatives that are more suited to the business traveller, myself included, and I am sure there will be a lot of advice on which these are and where they can be found.
All I can say is that I am looking forward to taking my wife back to the Waldorf Astoria for a few days before Christmas again this year!