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The Waldorf Hilton is a business-friendly, historic hotel in the heart of London with an interesting story behind it. More than 100 years ago, the hotel was the vision of two theatre impresarios. They wanted to own their own business and knew this hotel in this location would be a hit. With their foresight and the financial backing of William Waldorf Astor, the hotel opened in 1908. A mix of art nouveau, Edwardian design, baroque and American inspiration from the great hotels of New York and Boston at the time, the result was an innovative hotel with high standards and modern comforts.
The Waldorf Hilton Location
The 298-room Waldorf Hilton is located on Aldwych, a historical street that is just off Strand which puts it within walking distance to London’s square mile by day (business district) and a short walk at night to popular tourist activities in The West End, including Covent Garden, Leicester Square, London theatres, restaurants, pubs and more. Being a reasonable walk away from wherever you need to go is important to business travelers who frequently have limited spare time in their schedules. Escaping the hectic city to St. James Park is less than a 15 minute stroll, and you’ll experience the crowds and activities at Trafalgar Square outside the National Gallery along the way.
The Waldorf Hilton Guest Rooms
I stayed in E10 which is an executive king room at end of the executive floor. It’s a fantastic size that you’d expect more at a resort for business than a city hotel. The standard size for an executive king room is roughly 45 square meters (485 square feet), but my room was significantly larger. The king size bed (totally comfortable) is given the focal spot in the center of the room and faces a large plasma TV and below a whimsical chandelier. The Waldorf Hilton has “design rooms” which fuse a mix of modern and antique furnishings to create a contemporary bedroom that is spacious and engaging. For those who prefer to work in their rooms, there’s a reasonably-sized desk and ergonomic chair. In-room wi-fi is available for a fee (which may be going away by the end of 2011), but two computers are available in the executive lounge for use as well as wireless access (plus refreshments throughout the day). The Waldorf Hilton offers several different guest room categories, and there are many room styles throughout the hotel. It’s important to understand that room sizes will vary in every historic hotel (and that likely explains my much larger room). Standard rooms, of course, are more compact, but are still sufficient in size at roughly 25 square meters (270 square feet). Deluxe rooms are more comfortable at roughly 35 square meters (375 square feet). Executive suites are even larger than executive kings.
The Waldorf Hilton Bathroom
My executive king room had a modern, exposed bathroom, and private spaces for the shower and toilet were framed behind modern, frosted glass. The luxury bathroom includes a power rain and handheld shower fixture (very nice), heated towel racks and plenty of space to move. Executive rooms include a full contingent of personal care products, including La Source by Crabtree & Evelyn bath amenities (spa quality).
Events and Meetings at The Waldorf Hilton
The Waldorf Hilton is popular for social and business events. During my stay a Hindi wedding was held in the Waldorf’s famous Palm Court, a captivating ballroom that’s popular for private parties, cocktail receptions, weddings, banquets and corporate events. The Adelphi Suite breaks down into three different meeting rooms or one large state of the art space capable of supporting meetings and other events. There are also three smaller rooms as well as an executive board room which used to be an oak-paneled smoking room for gentlemen (its elegance still remains). Although The Waldorf Hilton has up to 7 dedicated meeting rooms (up to 400 attendees), I was told that meeting planners will have the hotel convert many of its bigger guest rooms into break out space to handle larger conferences. And there’s a business center available for everyone staying at the hotel.
Restaurants and Bars at The Waldorf Hilton
Several dining options are available at The Waldorf Hilton, including the Homage Grand Salon restaurant, afternoon tea in the Homage Patisserie and cocktails at Homeage Bar in the lobby. The Homage Grand Salon is inspired by the grand cafes of Europe and reflects Louis XVI-style décor. It is open all day, and I stopped in to check out their traditional English breakfast buffet (individual menu options also available). If you don’t see exactly what you prefer at the buffet or menu, go ahead and ask for the chef to make what you prefer. The chef accommodated my requests at breakfast. I ended my evening in the lobby bar where I also asked if the chef could create a chicken wrap that wasn’t on the menu (it was after midnight, and I skipped dinner earlier). No problem at all. While I waited, I had a totally enjoyable conversation with a mother and daughter at the next table who were from Belfast, Ireland. They chose the hotel based on its location and easy access to a specific theatre where they had tickets.
Other Amenities at The Waldorf Hilton
The Waldorf Hilton does have fitness and spa facilities available, but it’s with LA Fitness (a third party) which is located on the lower level. I didn’t get a chance to personally see or experience this, but understand it’s an average size facility by London standards and guests receive complimentary use of the gym and pool. This means you should check the policies at LA Fitness before making any assumptions. For example, LA Fitness limits the hours when children are allowed to use the pool, but that may be perceived favorably by some business travelers. Of course, The Waldorf Hilton offers a range of other amenities you’d expect, from concierge to room service. And with Hilton, you can double dip and gain credit with one of your airline mileage programs and Hilton Honors. Pets are not allowed.
Business travelers typically prefer to stay in unique hotels that are comfortable. The Waldorf Hilton achieves this with an eclectic mix of contemporary, theatrical and historic elegance. From my observation, the hotel’s staff is focused on creating a welcoming and personalized experience for each guest, which isn’t an easy task to always achieve. As a business travel hotel, The Waldorf Hilton is one that business travelers will enjoy as their hotel base in central London or if they are staying there for a meeting or event.
Updated May 6, 2013