Where’s Waldorf?

I stayed in two Waldorf Astoria hotels on consecutive nights in two different cities.

The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in NY is famous.  But did you know the following (taken from the WA website):

William Waldorf Astor, heir to John Jacob Astor III, built the original 13-story Waldorf Hotel on the site of his Fifth Avenue mansion. Opened in 1893, the Waldorf immediately became the gathering place for the world’s wealthy and society’s elite.

Four years later, Waldorf’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV built the adjacent 17-story Astoria Hotel. Separate, yet equivalent in grandeur and prestige, both The Waldorf and The Astoria were designed by acclaimed architect, Henry Hardenbergh, who in an act of great foresight added a three-hundred-foot-long marble corridor connecting the two hotels. This corridor, built to connect the two buildings, became an enduring symbol of the combined Waldorf and Astoria hotels – it is represented by the “=” in The Waldorf=Astoria.

For years I had the privilege to stay at the Waldorf 2-4 times per year because it was close to the NY headquarters of the company I worked for. It has been awhile.

For those who have not been there let me share a picture. It defines old world elegance, not opulence. Not that it does not have a feel of opulence but it is also understated in its show of riches. Toward the Park Ave. side of the lobby frescos grace the walls just below the incredibly high ceilings. Marble,  dark woods luxurious carpet surround you. The main floor lobby is enormous.

I arrived Monday night. As I walked the lobby it felt as if the Waldorf was its own little world. The bustle of well dressed people was palpable. By well dressed I mean both dressy and casual chic. The service staff was friendly without being intrusive and was everywhere. They make you feel as if you are one of society’s elite even if you are just a guy from Chicago.

Check out the picture gallery for the Waldorf=Astoria here.

Tuesday I flew to Orlando, Florida. (Two planes, 8 hours but that is a story for another time).  The Waldorf Astoria website lists 20 properties under the Waldorf Astoria corporate umbrella. Only one other uses the Waldorf Astoria name. It is located minutes from Disney World. Go figure. After over 100 years I cannot fathom why the only place beyond NY would be Orlando.

Having said that the hotel is beautiful. It is new world elegance but elegance nonetheless. The decor is more modern but not modern in that W Hotel kind orf way. The colors, the artwork, the wood trim all let you know that this is a Waldorf.  The hotel is new having opened about 6 weeks ago.

I had a two room suite with a small kitchen area as well as a living room and bedroom. There was one flaw. While the two closets in the living room were spacious and had an umbrella as well as the usual iron and ironing board, there were no hangers. None. A quick call and more hangers than I needed were rushed to the room. The bellhop rang the doorbell. Each room has one of course.

While the design of the two Waldorf Astorias differed the feel was similar. Still one must continue to question why the second Waldorf Astoria in the history of the world is  down the road from Disney. One would think that the answer to the question “Where’s Waldorf ?” would be a more urbane city.

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