While passing through Manhattan a few weeks ago, and needing a little pampering, I spent a few nights at the Waldorf Astoria. I've stayed at some top hotels on business trips, but on my own dime I'm more of a Motel 6 type. I'd rather spend the bucks on the vacation and good food.
As an aside, the Waldorf charges a corkage fee for wine you buy from a liquor shop and bring to your room. I guess the maid didn't report the bottle of Merlot in the trash that I bought the night before since corkage didn't appear on the final bill for the room.
I always like to try one meal through room service at nice hotels. Passing on the bagel (which DID come with lox and cream cheese) I ordered the Tower Breakfast.
It's basically eggs, breakfast meat, muffins, juice, and coffee. After taxes, $4 service charge and mandatory 15% gratuity, it's $42.50 for one. It may not impress your significant other as much, but IMO the Denny's $2.99 breakfast is better.
The cart with the tray did not have a area underneath to keep the food warm, so the breakfast arrived luke warm. The scrambled eggs at the Waldorf were a tie with Denny's.
As my breakfast meat choice, the ham had those uniform black grill marks that look like they were ordered from the wholesaler that way. The ham tasted more burnt than hammy. Maybe the burnt taste was to convince you the ham was really grilled. Interesting visuals, but it was inedible.
The cubes of potatoes with onion were overly salty and gummy.
The breads included an ok blueberry muffin, an unmemorable croissant, and an overly sweet corn muffin that needed butter.
There were little jars of Knotts Berry Farm apricot jam and orange marmelade and Dickinson's Marion Berry jam. Eh, for that money, I want house made jams.
OJ and coffee were fine and there was the nice touch of being able to order steamed milk for the coffee.
If you MUST eat in, I'd just suggest a basket of the muffins ($12 a la carte). There's complementary in-room coffee, so I'd skip spending $7.25 for a pot of coffee.
I expected to refinance my condo to buy breakfast, but I do expect quality food in return. Also the little touches that every nice hotel has were missing. There was no vase with fresh flowers. For $42.50, I want a flower on my tray.
The butter had no logo. I mean even McDonalds fancies up their butter with a logo for the pancake meal.
There was no pre-call that breakfast was on it's way up. In the better hotels I've stayed at on business trips, the kitchen rings you to let you know the food is on the way. It gives you the chance to get out of bed and put your robe on.
The server didn't pick up my paper on the way in. He left it hanging on the door. He also stepped on the bill that had been slipped under the door without picking it up. I had not noticed it until I heard the crunch of paper under his shoe.
FYI, prices for some other menu items were:
Yogurt - $8.50
Pink grapefruit - $9.00
Smoothie - $10.00
OJ - $7.25
If you decided to raid the mini bar, a can of soda was $5.25. Perhaps there was real coke in it.
Overall service is not unfriendly at the Waldorf, but it is unexcusably slow.
I checked in at 3pm and because of travel exhaustion I asked for turn down service early so I could relax in bed. It took three hours and then I was told that most people don't go to bed that early. WHAT?
AND there was NO bedtime chocolate on either night. Nothing, nada, zilch.
THEN when I got into the bed, I found a crusty black quarter-sized unidentifed object stuck to the sheet. Even Motel 6 doesn't do that. It took an additioanl hour to get the bed changed.
I was asked if I wanted to replace only the offending sheet. WHAT? No I wanted to sleep on a bed with dirty linens. In fact, just scrape off the black thing and leave the dirty sheet.
The phone near the bed broke and it took EIGHT, yes, EIGHT hours to get someone to fix it.
However, outside of room and general service, it was a nice stay. The Peacock Lounge Sunday brunch in the magnificant Waldorf lobby was top notch.
The room was very nice and, once cleaned up, the bed was really comfy. There was a really large walk in closet. My closet at home is smaller. Good set up for business travelers as there was an in-room fax/printer.
I spent about $50 for breakfast over a decade ago for a breakfast at Campton Place in San Francisco. It was similar to the Waldorf Tower but so increadibly wonderful, I can still remember every bite. I did not feel cheated paying $50 dollars for ham and eggs.
I don't expect that level of perfection, but for $42.50 I think a better job could have been done.
Some of this sounds so picky, no bedtime chocolate, no paper handed to me, no napkin tucked under my chin. However in hotels of similar quality and in major metropolitan areas that I've stayed at during business trips, they do these things (except tucking the napkin in. That was a joke).
For fellow traveling hounds who may be in that area, what would be good breakfast spots. My own choice was to walk a few blocks to Rockefeller Center. Stop by Dean and DeLucca for a coffee and breakfast pastery. Get a window seat and watch Katy, Matt, Al and Ann.