Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Walk Through the Waldorf

I walked through the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on my way to a business meeting today. I find the hotel a pleasurable place to attend meetings or, as I did today, just to stroll through — a grand hotel that evokes luxury and importance.

There is a delightful anecdote, recently printed in the quarterly magazine of the Philadelphia Advertising Club, of someone quite well known who enjoyed his stroll through the hotel's lobby.

Back in the early 1970s, English actor David Niven wrote the following in his autobiography. Before becoming an actor, he was a poorly paid liquor salesman living at the Montclair Hotel in New York City.

"The hotel was pretty awful and the steam heat in my tiny room was suffocating. But it was cheap and right on the edge of my territory.

"The front door of the Montclair was on Lexington Avenue, exactly opposite the back door of the Waldorf-Astoria. So, during the miserable cold winter, I made a point to come out each morning from the Montclair, cross Lexington Avenue, climb the long stairs at the rear entrance to the Waldorf, went my way through the vast gilded lobbies of the most luxurious hotel in New York, descend the steps to the front entrance, pass through the revolving doors and issue onto Park Avenue to start my day.

" 'Good morning, Mr. Niven,' said the doorman, saluting deferentially.

" 'Morning, Charles.' Every morning he had an instant pick-me-up. Very good for my morale."

We could all do well with a morning pick-me-up — especially those mornings when we're walking into a board meeting. Do you have one?