Waldorf Astoria NYC Closing Walkthrough
On a recent New York City business trip, I stayed at the Doubletree Metropolitan (review forthcoming) at Lexington Avenue and East 51st. A colleague mentioned to me that the neighboring hotel, the historic Waldorf Astoria, would be closing on February 28, 2017. This immediately brought back a flood of great memories for me, and we were amazed to share similar stories of our experiences staying at the grand old property. I knew at once that I had to make one last visit and take some photos to supplement my memories.
This is not is a history of the Waldorf (of course you can find one version of that at Wikipedia). Nor is it a news account of the closing or the expected re-opening under a different format (you can do a web search for that). But suffice to say that the property will never be the same, for better or worse.
On one of my first business trips to the big city (as a young, barely-traveled, west-coast investment professional), I took my wife with me for a conference at the New York Palace Hotel. With my company not being willing to foot the bill for a stay there, we searched for a cheap neighboring hotel and were shocked that the Waldorf wasn’t too unreasonable. So we excitedly booked our stay there.
My memory of our stay is fuzzy, other than a room change (due to a sewer odor in the bathroom) into a nice little suite with a non-functioning fireplace (if I recall correctly!). Other than that, as reviewers of the hotel often say, the property is enormous and the rooms have probably been a bit dated for many years.
I’m glad to have had that experience, as I’ve rarely found the Waldorf to be a good value in subsequent years. But I still find myself, nearly every time I’m in the neighborhood, visiting the property. The funny thing is that, often times, it is simply a dry and warm option to cut across a long NYC block indoors! Each time, however, memories come flooding back, as I take in the historic lobby area one more time.
As I mentioned, my colleague and I had similar memories of cutting through, as well as parking ourselves in a lobby chair on occasion (to get some work done or pass time) or visiting the shoe shine stand. Another funny thing is, as I stood out on Park Avenue in the median (standing awkwardly on a ledge!) to take a photo of the main entrance, my colleague happened to walk by (by chance!) and laugh at me for my efforts.
My Last Visit in Photos
As I mentioned, this is not intended to be a history of the property. But for my last visit, I decided to do some amateur photography to capture things “as they were” before the Waldorf closes. As you will see, as you look through the photo in this post and in the gallery below, there has been a lot of history through the years. Whether or not you’ve been there before, hopefully you enjoy one last look through the public areas of the hotel. From the main Park Avenue entrance, to the staircase in the entry area, to the cases of memorabilia just outside the lobby near the elevators, to the wood-paneled lobby itself, to the nondescript rear entry from Lexington Avenue by the Bull and Bear restaurant.
Please share your experiences in the comments below. And, if you’re like me, and didn’t know about the closing until recently (or now!), maybe this gives you time for one more visit of your own.