My overnight trip to New York last Wednesday was a last minute one, due to an early morning meeting that came together in the eleventh hour.  My boss had warned that getting a hotel room would be next to impossible as it was Fashion Week and United Nations Week.  But I tried anyway and was pleased to find availability at not ungodly prices.  As luck would have it, the Waldorf Astoria was one hotel that had decent rates without requiring you to share a bathroom with an exchange student named Helmut.  I booked.  The Waldorf is classic, but old. I have been put in some rooms there that are the size of my closet.  But it was only for one night and it was close to my meetings.

Due to obligations at home, I arrive late at the hotel, around 11:00 p.m. and wait for what seems like an eternity as there is only a single desk clerk handling a long line of check-ins.  I stand there, contemplating a tweet or two about the LOUSY CUSTOMER SERVICE at the Waldorf but don’t have the strength to punch the keys.  Finally, it is my turn.  I shuffle up to the desk receptionist and smile weakly.

 “I’m checking in.  Last name’s Mendell.”

“Thank you Ms. Mendell.  Just one moment.”

 Tap. Tap. Tap.  She reviews the secret computer screen, the one we never see, the one that says we have TONS of rooms available, but tell her we have NONE, just for fun.  Tap. Tap. tap.

 “Ms. Mendell we are out of standard rooms but I think I can upgrade you to a nicer room.  I just need my manager to sign off because it is on a block.”


I’ll take that.  Instead of my room being the size of a closet, it will now be the size of a walk in closet.  Now I won’t bump into myself when I’m getting ready in the morning.   She disappears behind the door, the one that leads to nowhere, the one where there is supposed to be a manager but there is probably no one.  But lo and behold here comes a manager, who types in a few letters (Tap. Tap. Tap.) and scurries off.  My key and a bed are just moments away!

 “I’m sorry Ms. Mendell.  I just need to do one more thing.  The desk receptionist goes behind the door AGAIN.”

 A few moments later she comes out. Tap. Tap. Tappity Tap. 

“Ms. Mendell, I was able to upgrade you to a really nice room.  It is the Presidential Suite in the Waldorf Towers.”


 “As in the one where the President of the United States stays????”

“Yeah, I had to check to make sure Obama wasn’t staying there because it’s UN Week you know.  How many keys do you need?”

 “A hundred? One, please.”

I proceed to the private elevators which require a key to ride, enter the Presidential Suite and there, alone in this massive space, I freak out.  Let me tell you, as awesome as it was to be upgraded, it was almost a burden being entirely alone.  It’s not unlike (I can imagine) getting a hole in one with nobody there to witness it.

So I try my best to “get my money’s worth” out of the night.  First, I call Dave and suggest he hop a train to the city.  He reminds me that we have two darling children asleep at home and it is almost midnight.  Party pooper.  I email my boss and ask him to come over to my room AT THE PRESDIENTIAL SUITE first thing in the morning.  I know asking your superior to come to your hotel room could be deemed inappropriate in some corporate ethics books but there was no way I was checking out of that suite without someone else who could vouch for its size and splendor.  Next, I run out to Duane Reade and buy a disposable digital camera which takes awful pictures.  I sit in every chair.  I open drawers.  I flip switches and look out every bullet proof window.  I don’t crawl into the Presidential bed until 2:00 in the morning.  And there I lie with my eyes wide open staring at the chandalier, wondering if I was sleeping on Michelle or Barack’s side .

The next day, I took the following video on my laptop.  I don’t pretend to be a cinematographer and this is really awful footage but hopefully you can get a sense as to how big this place was.

Best part about the room:  The sitting area.  Lovely.  Worst part:  The toilet.  Not very Presidential.  It looked like it belonged in a junior high school bathroom stall.

My boss, who is a great sport, did come over and sat in the JFK rocker before our first set of meetings.  I asked for a later check out (I apparently grew a pair overnight to make this request) and worked at the desk until close to 1:00.  I called my parents, Jennifer and a few other friends.  I tweeted and updated my Facebook status.  But eventually I had to go.

I found out as I was leaving that the Presidential Suite goes for $8000 – 10,000 per night.  Yeah, I’ll be back on the twelth of never.  I’m not sure what made the desk receptionist give me the suite as opposed to the guy in front or behind me.  Maybe I looked the most pathetic and in need of an upgrade– or like the one who wouldn’t ruin anything.  But I am now ruined for life as being upgraded will never ever be the same again.

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