The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria is one of the most luxurious and renowned hotels in New York, if not the world. Back in the day, when hotels were mostly used for people in transit, the Waldorf-Astoria was the first hotel to offer room service. This, together with other innovations, helped transform the hotel into an attractive spot for the well to do of New York and secured its reputation outside the city for now well over a century. The Waldorf-Astoria has become an icon of popular culture and a trend-setter in providing a luxurious place to stay for those away from home. It has had a huge impact on the development of the hotel industry. Today the hotel has 1,416 guest rooms, including 303 suites, all of which feature original Art Deco motifs. It occupies an entire city block of New York between Park and Lexington Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets.
The Waldorf-Astoria is closed indefinitely for renovations. For other hotels in New York see here.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel History
The history of the Waldorf-Astoria dates further back than its current location at 301 Park Avenue. When it was first established it was housed in two – now historic landmark – buildings. One of the buildings was located on Fifth Avenue at the current location of the Empire State Building. It was owned by William Waldorf Astoria and designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh in 1893. The other was owned by his cousin John Jacob Astor IV and was opened four years later in 1897 right next door. John Jacob Astor IV lost his life when the Titanic sunk in 1912 and the formal investigation of the incident was conducted at the old Waldorf-Astoria.
Designed by Schultze and Weaver
Though at first, these were two separate hotels (fuelled by family feud) they eventually merged to become one establishment. The original buildings were 13 and 17 stories high, respectively. The present building is in comparison a lot bigger, towering at 47 stories, although this is of course still relatively small for New York standards. It was built in 1931 and designed by the architectural firm Shultze and Weaver in an Art Deco style and has since 1993 been a historic landmark.
The present hotel not only offers accommodation but also a choice of three restaurants of both American and classic European cuisine. The Waldorf-Astoria also houses a boutique hotel. Popularized in North American during the 1980s, boutique hotels offer even more luxury in a more intimate setting. The boutique hotel of The Waldorf-Astoria is known as The Waldorf Towers and is housed on the upper floors of the hotel, the 27th to 42nd floors to be more exact. Perhaps one of the most famous guests (and there have been many) was Marilyn Monroe, who stayed at The Waldorf-Astoria for several months when working on The Seven Year Itch. The hotel hosts a number of important and highly publicized events such as the International Debutante Ball and the New York Couture Fashion Week used to be hosted there as well.
In addition to the luxury of the hotel itself, The Waldorf-Astoria also boasts its own railway platform, as part of Grand Central Station. The most famous person to make use of this railway platform was Franklin D. Roosevelt who wanted to hide his ailments from the public.
Tip: If you need to use the bathroom, just walk in!