I find it difficult to introduce my next city, a city that I, for some strange reason, feel so attached to. At 29, I finally get to come here and discover what all the fuss is about and of course try to understand this irrational emotional attachment.
When the taxi driver drove me from JFK airport towards the infamous grey skyline, the car journey slowed down in my mind. The traffic clogging up the motorways only heightened the build up. New York. I am here. All these years of wanting to see her, watch her 24 hour metropolis and urban oasis bringing people to life and here I am, waiting to be brought to life.
Manhattan, such a small island yet such a stir it causes across the globe. People around the World sing along to Alicia Keys like it’s their own city. Well, that’s the thing about New York, it is everyone’s city. A cocktail of people from everywhere and flavours from tomorrow here today.
The skyline cradled me until I fell into the city after a long drive through the connecting tunnel from Queens to Manhattan – you can only get to Manhattan via tunnel or bridge as the island sits just outside New York.
My first hotel here is the Waldorf Astoria – well I guess my accommodation had to reflect my emotional journey of exceeding expectation, surrealism and exhilaration. The Waldorf Astoria is all of these things and more.
The luxurious fortress sits on Park Avenue, but this isn’t where the story began. The original Waldorf Astoria, before it was torn down in 1931, was located on Fifth Avenue. The lobby and entrance (staircase up towards grand chandeliers) was breathtaking. I felt like royalty walking up, taking my time breathing in the opulence. Grand chairs situated around the entrance and lobby, welcoming visitors. Ceilings were magnificent, prim and proper, a majestic promenade. The service from the staff was exceptional, all referring to me by name – what a fabulous extra touch. I am not just another customer, I have a name – thank you! I was given a free upgrade and when requesting a late checkout, the delightful chap I spoke to was ‘more than happy to help’.
The live pianist in one of the restaurants was extremely charming as I spoke to her when photographing the restaurant. She was shy, so she wouldn’t let me photograph her – the modesty! Although busy entertaining a restaurant full of people, she made eye contact and once again referred to me by name after introductions – showing a genuine interest in my visit.
I shook hands with two members of staff in just twenty minutes of being in the hotel and also got a free leather luggage tag – I can cross that off my list!
The presentation of my room was immaculate and exceptional in every way. Everything was available to me apart from – of course – tea making facilities! But I ordered myself a cup when I ordered the famous Waldorf Salad for dinner – it was delicious! I highly recommend it. And if you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try the Red Velvet Cake – which was actually invented/created here at the Waldorf Astoria back in the 30s! Bet you didn’t know that. It’s not just a pretty hotel, eh?
Check out the fitness centre or spa for a more relaxing time –a full body massage for $250. I would have booked myself in but they were full. Book in advance as it looked like it would have been the experience of a lifetime!
The location is fabulous, just a five minute walk from the underground (or the Subway as it were!) and if you are feeling adventurous, take a twenty minute stroll to Times Square.
And the views? Do I even need to say anything here? Just Google ‘New York Skyline’ – and let me tell you something – it’s real! How am I going to sleep tonight with this view? Alicia Keys definitely got it right. ‘Concrete jungle where dreams are made of’.
The Waldorf has really impressed me today, the people, the finesse, the style and, finally, the intimacy it has created between New York and I. I will definitely be coming back here, because this fine hotel doesn’t just belong to the New Yorkers.