Luxury Hotels

Simply Sunday – is new better than old when it comes to luxury hotels?

Clock at Waldorf Astoria New York

The gal stayed in an old hotel earlier this year that seemed older than it really was. The upholstery was like my grandmother’s, thick and obviously decades unchanged, though the antimacassars had got lost along the way. Bureau drawers did not pull out properly and when one did manage to open one there were gaps in the boards forming the base. If this was a luxury hotel it was not right for today.

And, guess what, I felt old after staying there.  I left without looking back.  I felt sad, sad for the building, which desperately needed more than a dose of tender loving care: I felt sad for the people working there and sad for the other guests.

Now I, like every other person who has been lucky enough to come into contact with Waldorf Astoria New York, wonders how the 1897-vintage icon will look when it eventually re-opens.  The new owners, Anbang, closed the hotel completely a month ago, and some of the 1,415 bedrooms that were there before will be turned into residences. What remain as hotel letting rooms will, apparently, be huge by New York standards, with minimum size 600 sq ft – and with Pierre Yves Rochon as the lead designer one can be sure they will be gorgeous.

All that has been released so far is proposals for public areas, including the hotel’s Lexington Avenue entrance, as above. The clock in the main lobby (surrounded by fuss, in the past, as the smaller image shows) will undoubtedly be cleaner, simpler, and more stylish.

Of course there are so many questions, not only about the design.  Where is the hotel’s renowned wine cellar currently being stored (when Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui hosted Jared Kuchner to dinner at the hotel in November 2016 it is said he opened a bottle of Ch Lafite Rothschild worth $2,100)? Where are all the gorgeous photos of former guests, people of the calibre of  Cole Porter, who lived in the hotel from 1934-1964?  This will be a new luxury hotel, beautifully married with its past, and that is the ideal, old and new cohabiting, or the other way round.