About fourteen years ago, I had the pleasure of staying at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The opportunity came up not because I had a sudden windfall but, because tourism to New York was at an all-time low. It was the spring of 2002 and many New York hotels were offering special rates to bring tourists back to the city. I happened to find a wonderful deal on a three night stay at the Waldorf Astoria, a hotel I had never set foot inside before.
I must say, there is something quite satisfying about stepping into a cab at the airport and telling the driver to take you to that famous hotel. You suddenly feel a little less ordinary.
The lobby of the hotel is very comforting in an “old world” sort of way. You feel wrapped in the warmth of the dark wood and the soft lights from the table lamps as you ease yourself into one of the plush seats. It’s one of those places where you can sit for a long period of time just watching the ebb and flow of the smartly dressed people making their way around this elegant space.
In a prominent position in the lobby stands the bronze Waldorf Astoria clock set on an octagonal base of mahogany and marble. The clock was created by Goldsmith Company of London for an exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The Waldorf Astoria purchased the clock and has made the two-ton instrument a focal point of the hotel ever since. It stands nine feet tall and is topped with a Statue of Liberty. Around the eight sides of the base are oval portraits of Queen Victoria, Benjamin Franklin and six American Presidents, Cleveland, Harrison, Washington, Grant, Lincoln, and Jackson.
I took advantage of the hotel’s amenities having drinks in the dark but friendly bar before heading out to dinner and on another evening enjoying a drink and entertainment in the bright lounge where I met and talked with a woman who told me she was Walter Conkite’s personal assistant.
I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay at this famous hotel. It was like stepping into another world but one I was completely comfortable in.
I brought one souvenir home from this trip that I still own and use today. My Waldorf Astoria bath robe hangs in my bathroom and reminds me of a perfect weekend getaway.