Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Waldorf Astoria Hotel, January 29th to January 31, 2010

We had a wonderful room with plenty of space to sit, read, relax and talk!

The bed was simply superb!

A first rate hotel with rough spots! (Room 2727)

 The Waldorf=Astoria
301 Park Avenue
New York, New York U.S.A.10022
212-872-7272 fax

There is something very special about staying at Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York. This hotel has so much history behind it, and the list of famous guests is amazing. The present hotel is now managed by the Hilton and is considered the flagship of its luxury brand, the Waldorf=Astoria collection.

The building is lovely and well kept although there were a few signs of shabbiness in the room suggesting a renovation may be needed.

My verdict on the hotel is that it has many of the attributes of a first-rate luxury hotel, but some of the staff seem to have missed the training.  Sometimes they will give you the idea that no request is too much trouble, that they are willing to stretch to accommodate you if your plans are a little different from normal, and that your stay should be remembered as a special occasion. Others seem not to care at all. With this uneven service, I would rather stay at a Ritz Carlton instead where the service is unfailing.

Our reservation was handled quite nicely, and we were welcomed very courteously although we were told that check-in time was 3:00, and we had arrived at about noon. I still find it curious that a hotel of this size cannot stretch a point for a Gold member in the Hilton HHonors plan!

It also is a little disappointing that although we had a "standby" certificate for a Towers room, which gives you access to an Executive Lounge and a separate exclusive entrance. They said that there were rooms available in the Towers, but we would have to pay an extra $100 a night. What do these certificates mean? What time do you have to arrive on a freezing cold weekend to make sure you get the standby? Anyway, we were given an outstanding room as you can see in the pictures but not the one on the eStandby certificate.

This is the second time I have had an eStandby upgrade from a hotel in the Hilton group, and it is the second time that it has done nothing for me.  As this link suggests, the eStandby upgrades are intended to increase revenue rather than build customer loyalty.  This will be a discussion in a futrue article.

HHonors members with Gold status also supposed to get breakfast, and we were given coupons to use the Starbucks, which is on the premises. So, in the morning, we went down to Starbucks.  Well, Starbucks is Starbucks, and there was none of the attention or welcome that one would expect in a first class hotel.  The coupon offered us a pastry, a juice, and a drink (coffee, etc.). The surly server announced that he was out of pastries but I could have one of the (inferior) croissants if I wanted. I asked for a porcelain (as opposed to a paper cup), and was told that it would be possible only if I bought one of the cups he had for sale. Hardly the gracious living experience one would expect from staying at a hotel of this caliber!

We had to go back to the desk for a second coupon for our second night. When I talked about how disappointed I was with our Starbucks experience, a delightful person gave us coupons for Oscar's, one of the cafes in the hotel that has a breakfast buffet. She acted in the way you expect in the best hotels.

Another rough edge happened when we came back to the hotel at about six in the evening on the second night. We were planning to see a show and had a couple of hours to rest before leaving the hotel. The room was in exactly the same state as we had left it in the morning. I phoned housekeeping, and there was no apology or anything. Rather, the person handling the call positioned my call as a routine request to have the room serviced. The person responsible for doing this appeared promptly and she serviced the room beautifully but this left us with nowhere to go while she was working except the crowded and bustling main lobby. We asked an employee if we could use the Executive Lounge while we waited for our room to be fixed and he pointed at some chairs and said we could sit there. Then he pulled out a handkerchief and noisily blew his nose!

Breakfast at Oscar's was second rate, and I would have been seriously disappointed if I had paid the regular price of $38 for it. Again, there was nothing wrong with it,but I expect a hotel of this caliber to enhance the breakfast with a few treats that are commonly found in the best hotels (smoked salmon, mozzarella and tomatoes, beautiful displays of fruit, a variety of special cheeses, for example.)  The service was excellent, though.

We had a drink at Sir Harry's.  Sir Harry's is the bar at Waldorf=Astoria. As one might expect, it has a good range of sparkiling wines at Champagnes at high prices. It also offers a "house" sparkling wine, a Cava from Freixenet at $15 a glass. It offers draft Budweiser or Stella Artois at $9 a glass.

We stayed recently another hotel in the Hilton group, the Conrad in Singapore.  Everything about that stay was impeccable, and I'll write about it in another posting. But it made me wonder.  What would an Asian visitor have thought if he/she was used to the kind of service offered by hotels like the Conrad in Singapore?

I would be very interested to hear from readers.  Did your experience at the Waldorf=Astoria meet your expectations?  Or did it have some surprising disappointments?

This is not a recommendation.  I paid my own way using Hilton points and do not have any connections, sponsorship, or freebies from the Hilton Hotels except for those associated with my HHonors account.

This blog continues on http://www.louisandlouisa.com 

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