Curtain Closes on New York’s Most Iconic Hotel
Things you never knew about the Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Nothing speaks grand Americana more than the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel.
Home-away-from-home to kings and queens from around the world, it is American hospitality royalty at its best.
The curtain went down on the hotel’s historic 86-year run on Park Avenue this month (March). It will undergo a multi-year renovation and partial condominium conversion by its owners, China’s Anbang Insurance Group, which paid $1.95 billion for it in 2014 – making it the most expensive hotel ever sold.
To celebrate its legacy, Booking.com, the world’s leading online accommodation site with the widest choice of incredible places to stay and hundreds of instantly bookable properties throughout New York City, has put together their expert insight on 15 things you probably didn’t know about the historic landmark.
U.S. President Herbert Hoover opened the hotel in October 1931. Every U.S. president since then has stayed in the 2,245-square-foot Presidential Suite.
2. Historical Firsts
It was the first hotel to offer room service in the U.S. and the first major hotel in the world to employ women as chefs, beginning in 1931. It was also the first hotel to feature electricity and private bathrooms in all its rooms.
3. Tasty Fare
The Waldorf Salad, Eggs Benedict, Red Velvet cupcakes and Thousand Island salad dressing were invented there.
4. Secret Train Tunnel
There's a hidden train tunnel that runs from Grand Central to the base of the Waldorf Astoria. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used this secret tunnel to enter the hotel so that people didn't know he was in a wheelchair. Of course, New York is no stranger to hidden entrances or speakeasys. Down below the Time Square subway station, there’s a private door that once led to the lowest level of the Knickerbocker hotel.
5. Star Power
Celebrities have routinely stayed at the hotel since it’s opening including: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Brad Pitt, Angelina Joilie, Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner, Liv Ullmann, Judy Garland, Edward G. Robinson, Gregory Peck, Carey Grant, Cole Porter, John Wayne, Tony Bennett, Jack Benny, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Muhammad Ali, Ginger Rogers and Vince Lombardi.
6. Marilyn Monroe Suite
Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel for several months in 1955. The suite was later named in her honor.
7. Largest Suite
The Cole Porter Suite is a five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath suite that's roughly 4,300 square feet, and went for $150,000 a month. Porter lived there for 25 years and wrote several famous songs in the room. His piano remained in the suite.
8. $1-Million Home Away From Home
Singer Frank Sinatra paid nearly $1 million a year for the Cole Porter Suite making it his personal home away from home from 1979 to 1988.
9. 3 in a Tub
The Elizabeth Taylor Suite has the largest and most exquisite bathtub which can easily accommodate three people.
10. Most Requested Room
Room 42R, the Royal Suite, located on the top floor is the most requested room. It was once the residence to the Duke (King Edward) and Duchess (Bessie ‘Wallis’ Simpson) of Windsor for over 10 years. The Duchess had the suite painted light blue which was later named ‘Wedgewood Blue.’
11. Quiet on the Set
The Waldorf Astoria New York has been a filming location for numerous films and TV series, including: Coming to America, Serendipity, Maid in Manhattan, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and The Pink Panther. Film buffs looking for a stay at a property that’s made it onto the big screen, consider The Plaza, which has almost had as much screen time as the Waldorf.
12. Impeccable Service
“The difficult immediately, the impossible takes a few moments longer,” is considered the hotel motto. They once had a request to raise a guest’s toilet seat by one centimeter which they did.
13. Silver Medalists
The hotel employed eight full-time silver polishers.
14. Rooftop Garden
The rooftop was used to cultivate gardens of fresh vegetables and herbs and beehives for honey. On the 20th floor roof, there were six beehives with 350,000 bees. The ‘Top of the Waldorf’ honey was used in culinary specials, cocktails and at the Guerlain Spa located in The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria New York.
15. 100-Year Deal
Hilton Worldwide will continue to operate the Waldorf Astoria New York under a 100-year management agreement.
During your next visit to Manhattan, take time to spend a few minutes in front of 301 Park Avenue and appreciate this historic landmark.
Thanks for the memories. We can’t wait to see the “new” Waldorf Astoria New York.