The Waldorf Astoria Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Midtown East, Manhattan, New York City

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Within walking distance of major attractions and several subway lines
  • Elegant rooms with iPod docks and flat-screen TVs
  • Stunning art deco design/architecture
  • World-class Guerlain Spa with 15 treatment rooms
  • Superb but pricey on-site restaurants
  • Great fitness center with up-to-date equipment
  • Free Wi-Fi in the glamorous lobby

Cons

  • Small standard rooms, for the price
  • Strict dress code in the lobby after 6 p.m.
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

A Midtown East icon, the 1,300-room Waldorf Astoria comes with some of New York's best (or at least most expensive) spa services, fitness facilities, restaurants, and bars. Rooms are elegant and feature the high-end amenities expected of a hotel of this category, and suites have palatial black-and-white marble bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs. However, Standard Rooms are small for the price, and there’s a fee for Wi-Fi. The dress code and antique decor aren't for everyone, though the cinematic history and unrivaled elegance might make the price tag well worth it.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

The Waldorf Astoria is one of the most iconic hotels in New York, with a chandeliered, art deco lobby that has historic charm… And a dress code!

A paragon of sophistication, The Waldorf Astoria is the only hotel in New York to enforce a dress code (no jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, or baseball hats recommended in the public areas after 6 p.m.). Built in 1931 (then the tallest and largest hotel in the world), The Waldorf Astoria retains its stunning Art Deco grandeur. Every President since FDR has stayed in one of the 26 Presidential Suites at the hotel. There even used to be a secret train platform underneath the hotel at 49th Street, for high-profile guests. And there is still a smaller motor entrance hidden away from the bustling streets of New York. The infamous 1985 NBA draft lottery was held at the Waldorf. Conrad Hilton purchased the hotel in 1949, though its strong association with the Hilton brand is a more recent phenomenon, coinciding with Hilton's 2006 launch of the Waldorf Astoria Collection.

Few hotels anywhere in the world rival the Waldorf's history and charm. Critics scoff that it lives in the past and treads only on its reputation. But it's a hotel that is still thriving, with attentive yet discreet service, well-maintained rooms, and robust dining options.

Beneath art deco chandeliers, the Park Avenue lobby is bustling but hushed, with only a few sofas and tables. This is where the ladies used to wait while their husbands checked in at the grand, wood-paneled second lobby. (Back in the day, it was not appropriate for women to be present when men were dealing with money). There is a large sitting area all around the second lobby, and it’s common to see guests working on their laptops, as it is the only place in the hotel with free Wi-Fi.

The Waldorf Towers -- a boutique section located on the top floors of the Waldorf Astoria and with a separate entrance and services – offers extra luxurious touches and larger rooms.

 Location

Blocks to several subway lines, and within walking distance of Rockefeller Center and Grand Central

The Waldorf is on Park Avenue between East 49th and 50th Streets, in the neighborhood known as Midtown East. The area consists mainly of tall office buildings and other hotels (the New York Palace is a block away on Madison), but there are plenty of restaurants -- ranging from takeaway to Michelin-starred -- within blocks of the hotel. Museums and other major attractions, including Times Square and Rockefeller Center, are also within easy walking distance.

  • Around the corner from the 6 station on 51st Street
  • 5-minute walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • 7-minute walk to Grand Central and its accompanying 4, 5, 6, 7 and S subway lines
  • 7-minute walk to Rockefeller Center and the B, D, F, and M subway lines
  • 10-minute walk to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • 11-minute walk to Bryant Park
  • 15-minute walk to Times Square
  • 15-minute walk to Central Park
  • 8-minue drive to the Lincoln Center

 Rooms

Rooms are comfortable and charming, if not a little antiquated (but that's the point).

At 200 to 225 square feet, Deluxe Queen Rooms (the lowest level rooms) are small for the price, but the size is on par with most New York hotel rooms. All rooms have up-to-date, high-end amenities, and feature the hotel’s signature classic touches and red and gold color scheme.

For extra luxury, the hotel also offers Concierge Level rooms, which include free continental breakfast in the Astoria Lounge, twice-daily housekeeping with turndown service, and bathrobes.

  • Rooms have antique wooden furnishings -- including an armoire, mirror and desk -- and cream brocade fabric on the walls.
  • Triple sheeting bedding
  • Large flat-screen TVs with premium channels like HBO, ESPN, and Starz
  • iPod docks
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi
  • Marble bathrooms featuring Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries
  • Some suites have kitchens; all suites offer the same extra services as the Concierge Level rooms

 Family

There are few kid-friendly amenities, but the variety of rooms, the convenient location and doting service make the hotel a good choice for a family trip.

One of the benefits of a hotel with 1,300 rooms is that there are a lot of convenient configurations available for groups and families. The Waldorf offers rooms with two double beds and also has many rooms and suites with pullout sofas. Furthermore, the hotel provides rollaway twin beds (for a fee) in rooms without pullout couches, and it has deluxe rooms and suites that can be connected to each other.

Oscar's is the only remotely kid-friendly restaurant in the hotel, with a kids' menu and special Waldorf coloring book. However, there are plenty of fast-food and family-friendly restaurants throughout Midtown East.

Every Friday, a man who bills himself as the Millionaires' Magician puts on a special magic show at the Waldorf Towers (for a fee)

 Food

Three upscale restaurants, including a historic steakhouse

Dinner at Bull and Bear Steakhouse
Dinner at Bull and Bear Steakhouse
  • Peacock Alley is located off the main lobby. It features a bar, a lounge and a private dining space, and serves all three meals as well as a solid Sunday brunch.
  • Bull & Bear is a renowned steakhouse home to a historic bar; open for dinner only
  • Oscar’s Brasserie is open for breakfast and lunch; located off the main lobby

In keeping with the hotel's high-society ambiance, guests have their pick of places to get a drink. Each of the aforementioned restaurants have accompanying bars, but guests can also go to Sir Harry's, a dark and clubby spot near the Park Avenue entrance.

 Celebrity Sightings

Between Brangelina and the hotel's occasional use as a movie set, celebrity sightings don't get any better than this.

The Waldorf-Astoria has some impressive long-standing links to high society. Real-life luminaries ranging from Douglas MacArthur to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have all resided within the Towers.

The hotel is also featured in countless movies -- from the 1945 Ginger Rogers vehicle "Week-End at the Waldorf" to Philip Seymour Hoffman's Jack Goes Boating. My personal favorite is the 1988 comedy classic Coming to America. If it's good enough for the king of Zamunda, it must be the best, right?

 Airport Transportation

About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports

New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time-consuming. From JFK, it's a one-hour, $45 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a 30-minute, $40 metered cab ride to Midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls), and can take more than 90 minutes. Don't forget to tip your driver 15 percent to 25 percent.

To save some cash, try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7.25 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs.

 Fitness Center

Guests have access to a great fitness center -- but for a fee.

  • The hotel’s 24-hour fitness center, located on the 5th floor, is spacious and well-equipped, with up-to-date and well-maintained machines.
  • Concierge Level guests and Hilton Honors members get free access, but regular guests need to pay a daily fee.
  • The 19th-floor fitness center is open to Concierge Level and Waldorf Towers guests only. It offers high-end machines with individual TVs, free use of towels and changing areas, free bottled water, personal trainers available upon request (for a fee).

 Spa

A world-class spa with 15 treatment rooms

The Waldorf is home to the world-class (and very expensive) Guerlain Spa, with 15 treatment rooms and an extensive therapies menu. Both guests of the Waldorf Astoria and of the Waldorf Towers have access to the spa.

  • Every treatment begins with a skin diagnosis and is tailored to each guest.
  • Make-up services, facials and bridal treatments available
  • Men’s treatments available

 Services

Concierges, in-room checkout and hotel historic tours -- but there's a fee for Wi-Fi

  • Concierge services in the main lobby
  • Free continental breakfast at the Astoria Lounge for Concierge Level guests
  • Fee for Wi-Fi (free Wi-Fi available in the main lobby)
  • Fee for valet parking
  • Free weekday newspaper delivery
  • Twice daily maid service with nightly turndown for Concierge Level guests
  • In-room or express checkout available
  • Dry cleaning and pressing services
  • Hotel historic tours; offered exclusively with lunch
  • Pets under 25 pounds welcome for a one-time fee
  • Limousine reservations desk in the main lobby
  • Jewelry shops, shoeshine stand, a hair salon, ATM and florist in the main lobby

 Business and Conventions

Over 60,000 square feet of meeting space with high-tech amenities

The Waldorf Astoria has two gorgeous, historic ballrooms, as well as over 20 elegant and well-equipped board rooms.

  • Some rooms have skyline views and natural light
  • The Executive Meeting Center features 13 meeting rooms and a kitchen.
  • The ballrooms off the main lobby are some of the most sumptuous spaces in New York, with a beautiful Art Deco style, 21-foot coffered ceilings, and antique crystal chandeliers.
  • Catering services and Internet access available

 Weddings

From a spa to a beauty salon and a florist, the hotel has the happy couple covered.

The Waldorf is a wonderful (if very expensive) pick for a wedding celebration. The hotel has a dedicated Wedding Planner department, as well as several gorgeous salons, outstanding catering services, and several wedding packages that make the planning much easier than booking everything separately.

  • Florist on-site
  • Beauty salon and spa
  • Catering services
  • Five venues to choose from depending on number of guests

 Bottom Line

A Midtown East icon, the 1,300-room Waldorf Astoria comes with some of New York's best (or at least most expensive) spa services, fitness facilities, restaurants, and bars. Rooms are elegant and feature the high-end amenities expected of a hotel of this category, and suites have palatial black-and-white marble bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs. However, Standard Rooms are small for the price, and there’s a fee for Wi-Fi. The dress code and antique decor aren't for everyone, though the cinematic history and unrivaled elegance might make the price tag well worth it.

Things You Should Know About The Waldorf Astoria

Address

  • 301 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Astoria Waldorf
  • Hotel Waldorf New York
  • New York Waldorf
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotel
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotel New York
  • Waldorf Astoria New York
  • Waldorf Historia
  • Waldorf Hotel New York
  • Waldorf New York

Room Types

  • Astor Suite
  • Concierge Level Deluxe Room
  • Concierge Level Mini Suite
  • Concierge Level Suite
  • Concierge Level Superior Room
  • Deluxe Guestroom
  • Luxury Suite
  • Mini Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Superior Guestroom

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 1232
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Midtown East, Manhattan
Address: 301 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022
(See Map)
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