A great dame with an illustrative past offers a slice of Buckhead without the “bustle and buzz.” A boutique hotel, the Waldorf Astoria (now under the Hilton flagship) first opened in 2008 as the Mansion at Rosewood, only to foreclose in 2010. In 2012, it reemerged as the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta.
When the Waldorf took over in December, former Mayor Sam Massell called the hotel “the crown jewel of hotel flags known internationally. So much history, so many celebrities, dignitaries … they bring a cachet to Buckhead tha
t is very exciting.”
Hilton manages the property, which is owned by the Xenia Hotels & Resorts out of Orlando.
Originally designed by Jewish architect Robert Stern, the 42-story structure has 127 rooms including 10 suites. The 15th floor and up are individually owned condos. A New Yorker, Stern was the dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University.
The 15,000-square-foot spa is well appointed with high ceilings, original art and 13 treatment rooms. The menu of services is extensive and correlates to Southern tradition à la Peach Indulgence with what else, but peach oil? The treatments are priced differently for weekdays with an upcharge for weekends. A basic 50-minute facial starts at $150 on a weekday to $180 on the weekend. The “Citrus A Peel” facial is $180 versus $205.
A pedicure prices at $80 for weekday, $95 weekend. A manicure, $65 and $85. For a very special occasions, the couples’ 3 hour and 50-minute Magnolia massage includes light food and runs $1,410.
More choices: Himalayan Salt Stone, Mother-to-Be and Four-Handed Harmony. The menu states that a 20 percent gratuity will be automatically added to the tab. Be that as it may, the therapists are very accommodating, speak in hushed tones and are very accomplished.
There are numerous wraps, therapies and combinations to top off with an additional $75 for a 20-minute body scrub. The fitness center is open 24/7 with an indoor coed saline lap pool.
The main dining area is just off the lobby in the front entrance, glamorized by the open staircase. There are only a handful of tables, including a romantic round-tabled private alcove. More towards the rear wing is the bar/snack area, which is livelier on Fridays and weeknights. The menu is creative, but not extensive for such a small nightly turnover. A highlight is that from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday there’s pop-up sushi with a Latin chef from El Salvador. Fresh from stints in Miami and Anguilla, he pairs traditional sushi with jalapeños and his special ponzu fusion sauce with leche de tigre and bonito flakes. He is especially proud of his double fermented ceviche marinade with a Peruvian spike to enhance Japanese dishes. He speaks of using sustainable seafood (hiramasa) to avoid the over-fished varieties. The cocktails were sexy, using hibiscus flowers. The bloody mary was “bloody mearii” with Haku Vodka, pickled ginger, Asian mix and baby corn. Coconut sorbet was the perfect dessert.
Afternoon tea is served from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday (advance reservation is required). Live music is at the bar 8 to 11 p.m. every Friday.
The upstairs mezzanine is the hidden gem. The common areas and conference rooms atop the spiral staircase have exquisite chandeliers and divided meeting rooms such as the Astor Ballroom. It could entertain a wedding or b’nai mitzvah for up to 120 with the possibility of an outdoor ceremony in the lush ground floor gardens. The hallway to the garden showcases unique art and a heated patio for cool nights.
The rooms are equipped with Bluetooth connected stereo, solid tiger wood furnishings and amenities such as dimming sconces by each bedside and a pull-out writing desk from each end table. The outdoor patio has views to Peachtree and across the street to Westin and Lenox Mall on the east side. The marble black-and-white-tiled bathrooms have the expected TV, elegant tubs and a window shade. There is a separate shower and toilet enclave with requisite stall phone. Especially useful was the cozy entrance foyer, which has additional cabinets and shelving for hidden unpacking.
The hotel has spring room rates beginning at $313 a night, based on availability. The one-bedroom suite at 1,030 square feet with two terraces starts at $685. There is also a two-bedroom presidential suite.
A Glance at Jerusalem Waldorf
Worldwide, there are only 31 Waldorfs, including Bangkok and the five-star Jerusalem Mamilla, owned by French Jewish businessman Michel Ohayon, which includes the famous free Israeli-style breakfast. Conde Nast picked it for three years in a row as the best hotel in Jerusalem. Ohayon paid $160 million for the Israeli location, whereas the Buckhead property was acquired for $53 million plus $7 million for the Del Frisco’s Grille restaurant property facing Peachtree.