Waldorf Hilton review
I thought I would really like the Waldorf Hilton, but do you know what? I don't think I do. I don't like the Waldorf (I'm very hard to please).
But before I explain why, let me get all of the plaudits out of the way first. The location is great. It is situated right on the bend of Aldwych, five minutes from Trafalgar Square and two minutes from Covent Garden. You can even walk to St. Paul's if you're feeling energetic. Big Ben is walkable as well... so the location is pretty much perfect. And the outside looks fantastic, with its warm yellow lamplights and fancy black iron work (especially on a rainy night).
The room is big. It's probably the second largest room that I've ever slept in after The Ritz. But it's all white. It has white walls, white doors, a white bed... a bottle of water and clean glasses on the side. Mirrors absolutely everywhere (seven of them). It's like sleeping in a goddam hospital! It's like sleeping in a doctor's clinic. Any minute now the doc is going to come up and give me some bad news. He's going to deliver my brain scan results. I'm very sorry, sir, but I'm afraid you've only got two days to live. And you're going to have to spend them in the Waldorf. There are a couple of black and white photos of Marlene Dietrich above my bed as well (or somebody like that -- I don't know exactly who)... and in my hospital frame of mind I'm imagining them as being backlit x-rays of my skull.
The bathroom is white. Everything is white. This entire room is white. Whenever you see a lunatic locked up in a padded room, the room is invariably white.
I'm probably being a bit harsh... if the only thing that I can complain about is the whiteness of the walls then it can't be too bad, can it? I'd be no good as an eskimo, that's for sure. This igloo is too damn white! You do get plenty of extras, though. A big TV, a clock radio, ironing board, teapot, dustbin, carpet, wallpaper, teabags and coffee, minibar, dressing gown and slippers (both white), a personal safe and air conditioning. You also get about ten light switches but only seven lights. I wonder what the other ones do? That is one of the annoying joys of moving into a new hotel room — trying to work out which switch does what. Sometimes they try and confuse you with a master switch, which toggles off all the other ones before you've even had a chance to turn them on. It was whilst I was standing there doing this that I discovered that this room has got something I've never seen before: a night light. It's just a dim little lightbulb by the skirting board, about six inches off the floor. Have you ever seen such a thing? You literally have to get down on your hands and knees to see it. It's a light for the mice. It looks a bit daft to me... but if it scares away the monsters from under the bed, then I'm leaving it on.
One thing that really winds me up about 5-star hotels, is the crazy amount of money they want for trifling things. For example, (you are not going to believe this), for two-days access to the hotel's WiFi they want £26 quid. No joke! You get free WiFi in McDonalds and Starbucks for chrissakes, so why is a 5-star hotel asking for twenty-six quid? That is a total rip-off. There are no other words to describe it. (Obviously I still paid it though, because I'm an idiot.)
Luckily things pick up considerably when you get out of the room and into the bar. It's just a tiny little bar decorated with dark wood and pretty women, low lights (barely on), soft jazz (acoustic guitars and Spanish singing), and I definitely don't belong. But I can just about blag it as a smart man, because I'm wearing my funeral trousers and job interview shirt. I can be smart when I have to (when I'm forced to). They very nearly ruined my mood by serving up the coffee in a thimble, but I am even prepared to forgive them that because the atmosphere is so great. The coffee is super-strong though. Jesus Christ! It's almost like smoking a cigarette, and I have to do my best not to cough.
The waitress must think I need cheering up, because she's just lit a candle and brought it over. I seem to be the only person in here with a romantic candle. Er... thank you (what else can you say?). Normally I would blow it out, but I'll leave it burning tonight. I'll leave it burning on the table top, like they do at the foot of a tomb. Like they do in the churches. Like they do at a wake. I hope it doesn't set fire to this rose that they've daintily stuck inside a vase.
I can hear a conversation a few tables away with four equally unhappy women, all bemoaning the fact that they are still single. One of them thinks she is too ugly. Another one thinks she is too fat. The third one thinks that all men are useless, and the fourth one... well, I don't know about her, because she's just sitting there in silence. Maybe she's shy. Maybe she's dead and they haven't noticed yet. Maybe she has got the most to say but can't find a way to say it. Who knows. I will never know. But I think she's the most memorable thing in this hotel.
The breakfast is nice enough. It takes place in a big dining hall with faux-Roman columns down the side (imagine a mini-Banqueting House, but without the Rubens on the roof). There are lots of pretty staff floating around, lots of business types in smart shirts and ties, talking business over breakfast, and that soft Spanish jazz playing in the background again. Then you help yourself to all the usual stuff: sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, toast, cereals, yoghurts, etc. No Sugar Puffs, though. I can't see any Coco Pops either -- it's all cornflakes and muesli. One day I will find a 5-star hotel that serves Coco Pops, and my quest will be complete.
So that's about it, apart from one more gripe: they didn't bother to replace the milk and tea-bags. And you don't mess with my tea — hence why I'm never coming here ever again.
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