This past weekend, thanks to an obvious glitch in their system, Priceline reserved us a room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. (Have you ever used the Priceline Name Your Own Price feature? Try it— it might surprise you). How do Phil and I feel about reaching the height of fanciness at the ripe ages of 25 and 29? We feel great.
Leading up to the stay, we were giddy with anticipation:
“Should I get my haircut?” Phil asked the night before.
“No, leave it shaggy. People will think we must be famous to look like that at The Waldorf.”
“Check my teeth,” I said, a block away from the hotel. “I can’t have anything in my teeth at The Waldorf.”
As 49th Street met Park Avenue (because of course The Waldorf is on Park Avenue), we stopped and gazed at its gold-leafed entrance with the type of reverence we usually reserve for that initial moment when you open a pizza box and the steam pours forth.
“Valet parking,” I whispered, like a prayer.
We pushed through the revolving doors (which were also gold—I’m 85% sure that the hotel architect was Scrooge McDuck) and walked through the Park Avenue lobby, slowly, gazing up at the ornate moldings, chandeliers, and paintings of Romans or Greeks enjoying themselves (they live at The Waldorf, so of course they are enjoying themselves).
(There are multiple lobbies at The Waldorf. The Park Avenue lobby was originally designed so that woman could wait there while their husbands paid the bills because, at the time, it was considered inappropriate for females to witness the exchange of money. I suppose not too much has changed in this case because, although I paid for the room, Priceline and Visa protected me from the dirty dealings.)
We followed the mosaic-tiled floor and passed chinchilla fur coats, meeting rooms named after oil tycoons, and not one, not two, but three grand pianos, until finally arriving in the main lobby.
The main lobby of The Waldorf looked as if Grand Central Station and The Palace of Versailles drank a little too much Dom Perignon one night and conceived a bouncing baby hotel, complete with plush carpeting, pillars, and a 9-foot, two-ton bronze clock. While we waited in line in the bustling lobby dripping with elegance, Phil read the clock placard and remarked, “It was commissioned the year I was born.” The placard date read 1893, but Phil reversed the middle two numbers. Innocent mistake, I know, but the idea of Phil being 119 years old made me snort-laugh, which made me elbow Phil for causing me to snort-laugh in the middle of The Waldorf.
After a few minutes in line, as I pondered that a salad with walnuts and grapes— two decadent food items that are often too expensive for us to buy— was named after this living museum, a uniformed bellhop with gold tasseled shoulder pads escorted us to the next available receptionist.
“Reservation for Dillon,” I said with a proud smile. The lady nodded and clicked her keyboard.
“All right, it says here that the room is prepaid through Priceline?” she asked.
She said it perfectly nicely, without a hint of judgment, but this was The Waldorf, and I knew she was just being polite.
She issued us our room keycards, which had to be used to access the elevators, and we bumbled onward, still in awe of our surroundings, trying not to look like the Beverly Hillbillies, or the Wald-Oafs. (Sorry, I had to.)
The wonder continued in our room (which had a doorbell that I rang only three times). I stood in the bathroom, a luxurious little world of white marble, and was disappointed by a smudge on the mirror. As I rubbed the discoloration to remove it, the area flashed, and the local news came on. It was a television. Embedded. Inside. The. Mirror.
“Phil, Phil!” I screeched, shaking my hands like a child who doesn’t know how to express excitement. He peeked his head around the corner, seemed frightened for a moment, and then approached the image with the apprehensive curiosity of a dog navigating a vacuum. He looked around the room, attempting to identify the source of this motion picture. Then he waved his hand in front of it, presuming it was projected.
“No, it’s coming from inside,” I said, sounding more like a cavewoman discovering fire than a guest at The Waldorf.
The Waldorf insignia radiated gold on every surface. It was emblazoned on the soap, robes, and pillows—even on the toilet paper. I imagined that, right before we arrived, a man in a tuxedo patrolled the room carrying The Waldorf stamper, and branded every object that had an edge.
In the main area of the room, I approached the desk and opened a thick leather portfolio, revealing an extensive display of Waldorf stationery (cards and card envelopes, paper and letter-sized envelopes, postcards). I read online that every President since Herbert Hoover has enjoyed these lush accommodations. As I admired the regal selection of writing materials, I envisioned a President of the United States sitting at that mahogany desk, composing an important correspondence on the thick linen paper (which of course glittered with the golden Waldorf insignia). I sighed at the beauty of this image, and then stuffed the stationery in my purse.
After surveying the room, we flopped down on the Italian linens, read the Guest Directory, and learned some very important facts about The Waldorf. For instance, after 6pm the hotel kindly requests a business casual dress code in the lobbies. Since Phil and I were wearing jeans, and didn’t bring a change of pants, we would be kindly declining that request. Also, there weren’t ice machines on the floor. Ice was delivered to the room and, a few hours later, we would learn that it was literally brought on a silver platter. Lastly, every Friday and Saturday night at 7pm, The Waldorf offered a magic show by Steve Cohen, The Millionaires’ Magician. However, if the time was not convenient, Mr. Cohen was also available for private in-suite appearances. At this news I just about died, picturing a wealthy couple who had a previous engagement at 7pm, sitting on their bed wearing ballroom attire, looking severely unimpressed while The Millionaires’ Magician pulled 100-dollar bills out of his silk sleeve.
That night, we slept in an official New York landmark— which is even cooler than when I peed at the New York Public Library. Now I just have to decide which of my family or friends will have the honor of receiving the following note on Waldorf letterhead:
“Hello. I’m writing from the Waldorf, and it is fabulous, darling.”
Blogger’s Note: I am aware that I used “The Waldorf” nineteen times in this post (Twenty-one times if you count this blogger’s note). That is also an accurate representation of the phrase-count in my conversation this past weekend. Every time we saw something grand, or something quite the opposite, or really anything and everything in between, we crooned “The Waldorf.” And 75% of the time it was in a British accent. I just thought you should know.