When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England for the twice-divorced American he chose to hideaway in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Contributor LESLIE SCOCCA CROFT checks in at the Royal Suite to find out what’s changed—and what hasn’t—in the last 80 years.
Waldorf Astoria via Waldorf Astoria
It was the home of President Herbert Hoover, Bugsy Siegel and Paris Hilton. But when the King of England Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, he and his new bride, the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, headed straight for the only real option to Buckingham Palace—The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Even today, it represents timeless elegance and grandeur, and stepping inside the private entrance to the modest lobby takes one back to a day and time of exceptional service and uber luxury. I get why foreign dignitaries and rock stars seeking supreme privacy stay at this residence because the Towers splash with Deco splendor, a Guerlain Spa, even your very own private butler. I recently toured one of the Tower’s most renowned apartments, The Royal Suite. Former home to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, you can still enjoy this amazing experience starting at $10,000 per night. Whoa!
Lobby via Waldorf Astoria
When I first entered the Towers, I was impressed by the staff and enthusiastic concierge personally greeting returning guests by name. After getting the clearance and necessary security card, I was taken up to the penthouse floor to view this suite. Upon exiting the elevator, I immediately noticed that this floor has a 24 hour security desk and someone available to assist guests with any request they may have. I was nervous yet excited to see what awaited beyond the door.
Royal Suite via Waldorf Astoria
Occupying the entire 50th street length of this penthouse floor, The Royal Suite has gone through a $1 million dollar restoration several years ago to recapture the exact look and feel it had when the Windsor’s lived there. I walked into an entranceway of gold-embellished woodwork, and a magnificent Art Deco mirror. Off this hallway, was the master bedroom suite with a king-sized bed dressed in the finest linens. I really felt transported back to another time. Modern amenities such as a large flat-screen TV seem to effortlessly blend in with all the Old English classic, elegant touches, such as wing chairs covered in the finest Italian silks. Upon entering the master bath, I could easily see the Duchess preparing for a dinner party while sitting at the gold-leaf marble vanity table. Curiously enough, when the Duke and Duchess were staying at this residence, they had separate sleeping quarters.
I was overwhelmed by the robin’s nest blue walls in the grand parlor and the champagne and blue colored silk on the couches and chairs. The beautiful draperies and accessories really made me feel like I was at the Windsor’s private estate. I was shocked but delighted to see a baby grand piano nestled in the corner of the room with gold-framed photos of the Duke and Duchess and loved that many framed photos of them were scattered throughout the entire suite. The most breathtaking part of this parlour was the classically elegant clear and blue crystal chandelier on the center ceiling wall. Created by Barovier & Toso, an Italian company with a Renaissance heritage, it is evident it was created from Murano glass. This company did an incredible replication based on photos featuring the original. While standing amongst this elegant splendor, I was waiting for the Duchess to emerge from one of the rooms and offer me a cocktail!
The formal dining room had a long magnificent mahogany table that could easily seat and entertain 20 guests. Lavish dinner parties were held in this room under the strict supervision of the Duchess. At the time, the huge chest was filled with their own silver, doilies, monogrammed napkins and matchbooks. They also brought from England and France, their favorite “sweets” to serve at dinner parties. Their specially assigned staff was used to accommodating all of their needs and requests. The Windsor’s for instance needed a suite of this size since they typically travelled with 90 pieces of luggage, 30 trunks (typically Louis Vuitton), 60 bags and their beloved pugs who shared the suite with them.
Waldorf Astoria via Waldorf Astoria
There is just something magical about this classic hotel and its famed and storied past. I’m happy to have had this remarkable opportunity to see the Towers and the pinnacle of this property—The Royal Suite. Old New York elegance is still thriving in modern-day hectic-paced New York City!
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