Even though the Waldorf Astoria seems to have lost the distinction of having all American Presidents staying there due to security concerns now it is owned by a Chinese Company, the hotel is still one of the most elite hotels in the world.
From when it was first built in 1893 it has led the way in what is on offer for its guests. In 1893 it was the first to offer private bathrooms, electricity, room service and special menus for guests under 10 and continues to lead the way.
The hotel was rebuilt in 1931 with the same name but under different ownership and in its new incarnation was 47 stories high with 2,200 rooms. It takes up a whole block from 49th St to 50th St and from Lexington Avenue to Park Avenue. It is currently the largest hotel in the world.
Stories about the weird and wonderful things that have happened within the walls of the Waldorf Astoria are many. Elsa Maxwell once held a huge Circus Ball in the Grand Ballroom, complete with elephants. Cole Porter, who lived in his own suite at the Waldorf for many years and composed much of his music there, left his Steinway piano to the hotel and they still have it.
In the Ladies Lobby of the Waldorf is a magnificent mosaic by the French Artist Louis Rigal and you can see it in the video. Initially there were separate men’s and women’s entrances to the Waldorf to shield ladies from the everyday vulgarity of financial transactions.
There is an abandoned train station under the hotel. It was used by F.D. Roosevelt, Andy Warhol and Elsa Maxwell and her elephants and had the great virtue of a private elevator which bypassed the main lobby.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (ex-King Edward V111 of England and his wife the American Mrs Wallis Simpson) lived in a suite in the Waldorf for many years and much memorabilia from their time there remains in that suite.
The Waldorf has always offered single rooms right through to elaborate suites, many of which were occupied by the one person or a family for years. The top floors are now to be turned into condos and the competition will be fierce to hae a condo at the Waldorf.
If condo owners eat in one of the Waldorf’s dining rooms there they might be eating honey made in the 8 Beehives which the Waldorf keeps on its roof, another one of the hotel’s many distinguishing features.