Saturday, 14 January 2012

Travel Review - London Waldorf Hotel

I have stayed in Hilton Hotels before. In London one of them being the Langham Hilton. I must admit though although this one was in the middle of being refurbished in the reception area and one of the main public rooms, it was still a beautiful and grand hotel.

In 1889, the new London County Council made plans to clear a large part of the Strand to form the Crescent shaped Aldwych.  Edward George Saunders, Manager of the Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill, wanted a theatre of his own, so joined forces with Thomas Frederick Wild a Chartered Accountant. They decided on the theatres and then decided to add a hotel to the plans.  William Waldorf Astor, the richest man in the world, injected some money into the building and it was therefore given the name The Waldorf Hotel and Theatre.  The hotel itself still forms part of a big building which consists of the Aldwych Theatre on one end and on the other the Novello Theatre, formerly known as the Waldorf Theatre.

The hotel was built on a grand scale with the Palm Court lounge being a glass covered grand courtyard. This is still there and currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. It was finally opened to the public in 1908. In 1920 they held tango tea dances. When you are there today you can picture these tea dances.  The public rooms are all glass chandeliers and art deco pillars, and lovely windows. The rooms are very grand.

Frederick hotels (as the company was known) eventually sold the hotel after the war, to Charles Forte, Lord Forte of Ripley. In 1992 the hotel closed for a year for major refurbishment costing £12.5m. The hotel re-opened on it's 85th anniversary. In 2004, the hotel was awarded the management contract and started on a £35m refurbishment contract. Current refurbishment is being undertaken but the hotel remains open.

Our Bedroom
There are lifts to all floors, and elegant carpeted hallways lead in all different directions. There is also a grand staircase with art deco railings.  Our bedroom was a mix of the original art deco with a modern twist. Large windows which open out onto Aldwych and overlook India House and the tree lined street. Beautiful high ceilings retaining their original features. The bedroom furniture is of a mahogany colour and quite modern. There is a desk and chair and internet points. All rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board, flat screen tvs.
The bathroom is quite unusual. Instead of a solid wall the bathroom has frosted glass walls. There are the usual facilities with complimentary toiletries. The shower is a large walk in wet room type shower, with powerful shower with varying body jets.
Our bedroom
It really was a lovely room.

There was a small bar room called "Good Godfreys" after the former in house band leader,  in the lobby area. This serves lunch and afternoon tea and coffee and becomes a cocktail bar in the evening. Also there is some nice seating areas in the lobby with a grand piano, which is played in the late afternoon.

Potato and Pumpkin Beignet
There is the Homage Grand Salon restaurant which serves the most delicious meals. We had a 3 course pre-theatre dinner which cost £21.95 each, which for London in a 5* hotel was quite reasonable.

The food was excellent! The hotel does delicious afternoon cream teas, and 3 days a week this includes a history tour of the hotel. We didn't partake in this as thought £29.50 per person was too expensive!
Chocolate and raspberry trifle
The hotel also boasts of a health club and indoor pool, but we didn't have time to use those.
All in all this was a grand hotel, which is a wonderful part of our British Heritage.

The hotel is in a fantastic location. You walk around the corner and are about 3 minutes from Covent Garden and it's market and bars. Also there is a tube station there too.  Buses leave from outside the hotel if you want to use the buses. Taxi's are freely available outside too.

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