Waldorf-Astoria, NYC: Historic Opulence, Attentive Service

torNew York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Stay in a piece of American history at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria.

Out my window, the iconic Art Deco Chrysler Building shines like Roman candle. In the hallway, black and white photos of Lucille Ball and Angie Dickinson peer out at me. In the opulent lobby downstairs, the golden clock tower, built for the 1893 World’s Fair and adorned with presidential faces and crowned by the Statue of Liberty, chimes on the quarter hour as guests from around the world come and go.

I am staying at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue in the city’s fashionable Upper East Side. The list of politicians, royalty, and luminaries who have dined, stayed and played here is mind-boggling—U.S. Presidents from Hoover to Johnson, to JFK and Ronald Reagan to Obama, statesmen like Winston Churchill, and royalty such as Queen Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the Kings of Jordan and Spain, and many more. Just walking through the Waldorf-Astoria’s hallways, all marble, rich carpets, and crystal chandeliers and high-end shops, makes me feel like I’m part of the rich and famous elite.

Antique clock tower in Waldorf Astoria Hotel New York

The antique clock tower, built in for the 1893 World’s Fair, dominates the hotel’s lobby.

My room is in the Lexington Street tower, an older part of the hotel where the rooms are a bit smaller and the views somewhat less grand than rooms in the other tower. However, my widow looks directly at the Chrysler Building, its silver top shining in the day, its lighted façade shimmering at night.

Chrysler Building glows as evening falls at the Waldofr Astoria Hotel in New York City

The Chrysler Building, seen from my room, glows as night falls in New York City.

I’m on the 12th floor and my room is a perfect square with a king bed facing a fireplace that’s ingeniously lighted with orange pieces of glass that glow comfortingly. Since I can’t figure out how to turn off the lighted fireplace, at night it casts fantastical shapes on the ceiling and I don’t have to worry about finding a light to guide me to the bathroom.

This king room comes with a super-comfortable bed with lovely sheets and a relatively thin comforter, which, as a warm sleeper, I appreciate. There are two double-hung windows, one of which opens a few inches to allow in fresh air. I can see that the operable window can open more, but when I try it, it proves impossible. The housekeeper suggests I ask facilities to open it further, but I never get around to it. In the evening, with the cooler blowing, I’m glad I didn’t open it more and even opt for the extra soft blanket they have stored in the closet.

The room is well-lighted, with a desk large enough to actually work, a desk chair, and a reading chair by the fireplace. The desk is equipped with wired internet and extra electrical plugs (wireless WIFI is also available for a fee). There’s a flat-screen TV and a mini-fridge offering the usual over-priced soda, liquor, and snacks. I don’t shell out for the mini-bar, but carefully slide in my little sandwich (the mini-bar has electric sensors that automatically bill if you move items). While these Lex-side rooms are smaller, there’s still plenty of floor space to do yoga, Pilates, or a bit of stretching.

guest room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel NYC

My guest room had all the features I needed and plenty of room to stretch out.

The marble bathroom is also well-lighted and equipped with a combo shower/bath that puts out plenty of hot water. The towels are fluffy and oversized and the hotel provides luxury Salvatore Ferragauso toiletries. The closet comes with two terry robes and a large safe to stash valuables.

The hotel has two towers—one on the Lexington side, the other on the Park Avenue side. I’ve also stayed in the newer Park Avenue tower and the rooms are even more spacious, the baths feature separate showers, and rooms have commanding views of the city’s skyline.

fireplace in waldorf Astoria guest room

My lighted fireplace in my room cast fantastical shapes on the ceiling and lighted my way to the loo in the middle of the night.

The two-tower layout makes the Waldorf Astoria a bit of a maze and, until you get familiar with its ins and outs, you might find yourself turned around. Even though I’d previously stayed in the hotel, I got lost a few times. The hotel’s excellent signage helps as does the accommodating staff.

Like all older properties, the Waldorf-Astoria requires TLC and updating. When I recently stayed, its concrete façade was completely encased in construction scaffolding, which made getting good photo of its exterior impossible. However, its ever-attentive staff made me soon forget even that minor inconvenience. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

Chandeliers Waldorf Astoria New York

Chandeliers add to the hotel’s classic elegance.‎

Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at

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