London’s Waldorf Hotel – now the Waldorf Hilton – has a distinguished history dating back to 1908, when it was founded at a cost of £700,000 by William Waldorf Astor. Part of New York’s high society from the early 19th century onwards, the 1st Viscount Astor was a member of the famous Astor family.
Born in 1848, “Willy” Astor, as he was affectionately known, was a well-to-do American-born attorney, businessman, newspaper publisher and politician. He and his family moved to England in 1891 and he became a British subject eight years later. As a result of his contributions to charities supporting the war effort from 1914 to 1918, he was made a peer of the realm in 1916 and Viscount Astor in 1917.
He opened the Waldorf Hotel in 1908, fulfilling his dream to create an American-style hotel in London’s West End. It followed the American tradition of being more than just a room – it was also a place where non-guests could pop in for dinner, afternoon tea or even just for a drink. Architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie travelled to New York to soak up the pioneering, luxurious style that Waldorf required.
With 400 bedrooms and 176 bathrooms, the hotel had many innovative features that were ahead of their time; such as electric lights that guests could turn off at their bedside, central heating, elevators and a phone in every room.
The Waldorf has enjoyed many memorable moments over the years, starting in 1913, when it scandalised Edwardian society by allowing the tango to be performed in its Palm Court.
In 1934, the first record was recorded at the Waldorf by its resident big band, Howard Godfrey and the Waldorfians. In total, 15 “Live at The Waldorf” 78rpm records were produced, with singer Al Bowlly and including hit songs of the day, such as Goodnight Sweetheart and Love is the Sweetest Thing.
At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, a bomb narrowly missed the hotel. Sending shockwaves through the Palm Court and shattering its roof, the popular tango tea dances were suspended. The staff slept in the restaurant during the war, with the head waiter dozing in a corner each night to make sure all was ok.
The Waldorf also became a film set in 1958, when scenes from A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the Titanic, were shot in Palm Court by director Roy Ward Baker. In 1964, the famous Egon Ronay hotel guides were launched at The Waldorf.
In 1982, the tango tea dances finally returned for the first time since 1939, drawing in crowds of new enthusiasts.
In 2004, Hilton Hotels Corporation took over the hotel and it became the Waldorf Hilton, enjoying a £35 million refurbishment in 2005. A second refurbishment – costing £13.5 million – took place in 2015.
The Waldorf today
Today, the Waldorf is one of London’s most iconic buildings, featuring contemporary guest rooms with plasma televisions, WiFi access and Edwardian-style washstands. It also has an executive lounge, seven meeting rooms that house up to 400 people and a 24-hour business centre.
Several dining facilities offer a variety of freshly cooked cuisine, while the 14-metre heated swimming pool provides welcome relaxation. The hotel caters for global travellers and is Hilton Huanying certified – an international mark of quality.
Tapping in our considerable metal fabrication experience, that follows exceptionally high standards to manufacture top-quality furniture, the beautiful bathroom vanity units were designed by Pipecraft.
The expertise of Pipecraft group’s engineering and fabrication divisions was combined to complete this prestigious project, furnishing nearly 200 bathroom suites with both single and double basin styles in the renowned six-star hotel.
The bespoke manufactured framework was aligned with precision-machined components and assembled with a highly-polished finish, to meet the exacting standards of the Waldorf Hotel.