I just returned from a speech in New York and a stay at the old classic New York hotel, The Waldorf-Astoria. As someone who loves architecture and old hotels, it is always a thrill to stay at one of the true great “Old Ladies” of Manhattan. Regrettably, I was distressed to find that New Chinese owners seem to be treating the Waldorf-Astoria more like an elderly aunt locked away in an attic while it slowly drains her estate. The Waldorf-Astoria has never looked so bad (and I have been going to the hotel for decades) and the owners appears to be relying solely on its reputation as it milks the clientele for high priced rooms. Service and the facility itself has declined considerably. Worse yet, I am told that the owners plan a renovation and will be replacing historic meeting rooms with retail shops.
I have often used this blog to offer travel blogs and hotel reviews for our many readers to travel, including business travelers who are fortunate enough to have the ability to stay at top hotels. I have reviewed hotels from a Courtyard in St. George, Utah to the Shard in London. Admittedly, I often prefer some of the lower end hotels which can offer great service at a fraction of the cost. Indeed, I once criticized the Waldorf Astoria for bilking guests for WiFi after charging huge amounts for a room. However, there is still a place for the great old hotels like the Waldorf and it would be a shame to lose this venerable property to neglect.
I still feel a thrill in entering this old hotel with its famous clock in the reception area. It was built by the Goldsmith’s Company of London originally for the 1893 World Columbia Exposition in Chicago and later moved here (one more example of how Chicago made New York great). It features with eight commemorative plaques of presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, and Queen Victoria and Benjamin Franklin. The building itself is a German Renaissance style hotel by famous architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. A lovely period piece that speaks of decades of opulence and fame.
Unfortunately, the owners seem to be marking time until it decides what to do with renovations. I can understand the desire to conserve costs with a major renovation planned. However, I was pretty shocked by my stay. For the record, I was not paying for this trip. However, I strongly encouraged my hosts not to pay for my room. The problem is that it did not have a working shower. I kid you not. As I learned shortly before my speech, the water came out in a trickle and was ice cold. After 45 minutes, it warmed up enough to take a type of GI shower but then turned ice cold once you decided to try to risk it. It seemed like there was no pressure and limited hot water. The room itself was pretty dreadful and beaten up through the years. WiFi was spotty and constantly subject to interruptions. This is not to suggest that the hotel and its staff are entirely in decline. I met some wonderful people working at the hotel and I still love the history and interior work of this property.
I fared no better in visiting Sir Harry’s bar, a well-known watering hole on the first floor of the hotel. Sir Harry’s bills itself as a historic New York bar and certainly has the feel of a classic bar. However, the bar charges $20 for cocktails that are pretty mediocre. (I may have been jaded by my recent trip to Galatoire’s and the best Old Fashion by a bartender named Beauhannon that I have ever had). I tried two classics of Sir Harry’s: the Old Fashion and a Cosmopolitan. Neither was that good. The same could be said for breakfast in the room, which cost $60 for two eggs, bacon, and coffee (I was floored frankly when I saw the final tally and looked at the fairly unremarkable breakfast).
It is admittedly a huge perk of my speeches that I am sometimes able to stay at great hotels (hotels that I could not otherwise frequent). While I recognize the indulgence of such trips, it is fun to go to a truly world-class hotel and I try to share my impressions with our readers, many of whom travel on business. It pains me to see the decline of this grand Old Lady on Park Avenue. The idea of the Waldorf Astoria renting a room without a working shower would have been unthinkable not long ago. I can only hope that someone at Hilton will recognize that they have a jewel in their midst that should be returned to its once great beauty. This is a historic building and deserves a loving hand that preserves it for future generations. The hotel would do well to spend less time trying to find ways of charging customers like a world class hotel and start performing like one.
27 thoughts on “The Decline of The Great Waldorf Astoria”
“It is admittedly a huge perk of my speeches that I am sometimes able to stay at great hotels (hotels that I could not otherwise frequent). While I recognize the indulgence of such trips, it is fun to go to a truly world-class hotel and I try to share my impressions with our readers, many of whom travel on business.”
Seems like tokenism…
Topics including architecture, travel reviews, and consumer reviews, should certainly have a place in public discourse, and nobody should be barred from discussing said issues.
Although, it is quite revealing that this blog gives more press to the details of this hotel and other wonderful travel adventures, than to the details of any of the number of high profile murders by law enforcement (individually, that is…many hotels, travel reviews, and cases are discussed) in the past several years, or the invariable issues with our criminal law. This is not to mention the numerous other issues which ought to give rise to being in the purview of the public’s interest (public meaning all classes, not only middle and upper class Americans) but not necessarily a person with a fashionable title.
Regrettably, I was distressed to find that New Chinese owners seem to be treating the Waldorf-Astoria more like an elderly aunt locked away in an attic while it slowly drains her estate. The Waldorf-Astoria has never looked so bad (and I have been going to the hotel for decades) and the owners appears to be relying solely on its reputation as it milks the clientele for high priced rooms. Service and the facility itself has declined considerably.
Why do you continuously write these blatant “hit” pieces attempting to smear the US governments enemies du jour (eg Russia, China etal)?
The New Chinese owners, Anbang Insurance Group Co, just recently, 11Feb2015, purchased the hotel from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc which in turn will continue to manage the hotel for the new owners.
The Waldorf-Astoria looking so bad and the decline of serviceare directly attributable to the old owners and old/new management Hilton Wordwide Holdings Inc, not the new owners Anbang Insurance Group Co.
The sentence in bold font below was excerpted from:
Hilton to Sell NYC’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel
by Heather Perlberg and Nadja Brandt
October 6, 2014 — 8:43 AM EDT Updated on October 6, 2014 — 4:47 PM EDT
Hilton decided it was better to sell than take on the cost of renovations, said the person with knowledge of the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the details were private.
Hypocrisy at its finest
from the video description below
“Obama Voted Against Raising Debt Ceiling in 2006 – All Dems Did. The President made an admission along with many other dems that they made a “political” decision in 2006, instead of a fiscal one. They voted not to pass the CR, continuing resolution to to allow the federal government to operate. This was done while the republicans held the House of representatives and Bush was in office.”
Chinese also bought Smithfield farms which is the United States largest pork producer. We are witnessing the decline and sale of the empire of America.
See the real numbers in the link below. It will open some eyes.
A working shower:
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