The Waldorf Astoria is classic New York City. Razzle dazzle New York City. Shit just got fancy New York City. So for a girl who’s first real adult romance may have been New York City, staying at the Waldorf Astoria has always been a box on my life’s to do list. It’s the real deal. And it’s also a real price tag… usually.
Staying at the Waldorf Astoria felt like what I imagine it must feel like to tell people you are royalty: a certain exclusivity and fanciness about dropping the name. I convinced myself that it was totally acceptable to talk with a snoot when mentioning that we were staying at the Waldorf Astoria, darling (pronounced daaaaahling).
C H E C K I N
We were visiting on a brisk day in NYC but when we floated into the hotel lobby, we left the cold air behind like a lousy, ex-lover. It was like walking into a cozy, living room warmed and lit by a fireplace burning just for you. A woman from the Diamond Desk office came to help check us in. It was totally random, but nevertheless, added to the exclusive feel of royal living that lived in my head. In my fanciest snoot I asked her what year the Waldorf had been built (daaahling) to which she responded, “This location was finished in 1931.” I thought it strange that she specified “this location” but we were done checking in and I was impatient to get to our room.
T H E R O O M
… was as elegantly decorated as the stately hallways. It was heated by old radiators as one might expect in older Manhattan hotels but larger, in comparison. I looked around the room like a curious mouse, inspecting everything and excited by anything. “Babe! Look… robes!” I eyed up the bathtub like a sexy beast I would seduce later but for now we wanted to take advantage of the daytime hours and minimal sun to explore the neighborhood.
E X P L O R I N G M I D T O W N
We were thrilled to realize that we were near the perfect New York City landmark to compliment the historical grandness of the Waldorf: Grand Central Station.
Grand Central was indeed grand – parts of it looking more like a ballroom than a train station. It’s so typical that New York City could take something like a train station and make it ooze artful greatness. We split a New England Clam Chowder and Oyster Po’ Boy for lunch at the famous Oyster Bar and did some major people watching for a couple of hours.
With some warmth stored up in our bones, we made the walk over to the tree at Rockefeller Center, a tradition we’ve maintained since our first year together.
S T A Y I N G A T T H E W A L D O R F A S T O R I A
Back at the hotel, we opened a bottle of wine. Husband relaxed on the cloud-like bed and I soaked in my luxurious bath. Afterwards, we went downstairs to snoop around the hotel. Black and white photos of celebrities and royalty (the Queen herself) hung on the wall and a gift shop played music reminiscent of the 1920’s. I was transported back to the time of glitzy, old New York and imagined myself in those framed black & whites, sipping champagne and hobnobbing with the fanciest of the fancy. A brief account of the Waldorf’s history also hung – framed on the wall – explaining why the lady at the Diamond Desk specified this location. It was originally built in 1893 on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. As the wealthy neighborhoods moved further uptown, the Waldorf moved with it and it’s original location became the location to what is now known as The Empire State Building. WHAT?! How extravagant a place you must be that your sloppy seconds are now the most iconic landmark in the greatest city in the world?
I continued down my road of make-believe in the Grand Ballroom. We stood on the 2nd floor balcony looking down on the stage and then I stood on the stage looking up at the balcony.
From here, we took the elevator up to the Starlight Ballroom where the views were iconic and discovered that it was called the Starlight Ballroom because, at one time, the ceiling opened up to the evening sky, glowing with starlight. Swoon.
D I N N E R & P E A C O C K A L L E Y
At 6:00, we dashed off to a swanky restaurant we spotted earlier that was boasting happy hour drinks and half-off oysters on the half shell. I ordered a drink that’s recipe included a “lavender elixir” and yes, it was as elaborate as it sounds. The oysters were divine and even if I could remember what Husband and I talked about, I wouldn’t tell you because it was our happy hour bubble. Just for us.
After exploring, we headed down to Peacock Alley Restaurant, having told ourselves that no matter the cost, we would sit at the bar of the Waldorf Astoria and have an adult drink. Of course, I ordered ‘The Peacock,” a house-made infused cranberry vodka, apricot liqueur, and lemon sour cocktail. Each sip well worth the $19 splurge.
We chatted a bit before an over-friendly Asian fella approached the bar loudly. “Hey guys. Could you believe it?” He asked rhetorically, announcing his presence to the bartenders, “I got back to my room. Remember? I was leaving? I left. And under my door were more drink vouchers!” The bartenders were less enthusiastic of their newest patron, but handled it professionally. He was loud and gruff but the more I overheard, the clearer it was that he was a regular here. He was not the kind of clientele I would expect at the Waldorf and definitely the kind of guy that the elite would be very uncomfortable sitting next to. Luckily, I’m not elite, no matter how many $19 cocktails I order.
He was harmless and impossibly hard to follow through his drunk haze but the conversation would be quick and entertaining, like my martini-glassed drink. As Husband and I got up to leave, he stopped us. “Hey guys… wait. Here. Have a voucher. No wait. Have two. Really. I shouldn’t drink anymore. And I get tons of these.”
Well, who was I to not oblige. I looked at the bartender thrilled at my non-elitist luck, “Another Peacock, daaahhling.”