Overview: The “Grande Dame” hotel of New Orleans
Strengths: Attractive lobby, friendly staff, good elite recognition
Drawbacks: Rooms, room service, approach to service
A recent business conference brought me to New Orleans for the first time since 2010. Last time, I stayed at the Ritz Carlton and was reasonably pleased. The event I was joining was being held at the Roosevelt (a Waldorf Astoria flagged hotel), so I figured I’d give the host property a try.
When I tried to book, the hotel was fully committed. Thankfully, earlier this year, I took advantage of a status match offer and was able to get Hilton Diamond status. I’ve not used the status much, but was able to get a Diamond confirmed room at this property, even though it was sold out. Compared to similar efforts when I had a gifted InterContinental Royal Ambassador card, getting an override room was a very easy process with Hilton.
The hotel is also a Virtuoso hotel. I tried to arrange with Hilton to allow my Virtuoso agent to capture the booking to add the Virtuoso benefits – but was told by Hilton that they would not permit that. Fair enough.
With that as an introduction, let’s begin…
I arrived from the airport around 5pm via a private car. I was warmly greeted by several doormen and assisted with my bags up the stairs at the front entrance to the hotel.
There was a queue at reception and despite having an “elite” sign to the side of the reception desk (where an agent was), there was just one queue for check-in. I was thanked for my loyalty as a Diamond guest 😉 and advised that I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite. In addition, the desk clerk walked me through several other Diamond benefits ($30 F&B credit at select venues, free wifi and 15% off at the spa). I was told how to find the lifts for my suite.
My suite was two small rooms connected. Each of the rooms would have been very small on their own and the way they were furnished as a suite, they felt crowded.
The room was generally in good condition. The bed was reasonably comfortable and the black out shades were very effective.
There was an air vent fan in the main bathroom that ran at all times. None of the wall switches to turn it off and it was audible from the bedroom. It didn’t bother me, but it certainly could annoy light sleepers.
I didn’t visit the pool – though had a view of it from my room. It didn’t look inspiring.
There were quite a few aspects of my stay which unto themselves were not big issues. While certainly all in the “high class problems” category, taken together, these various snafus added up to a fairly disappointing stay.
- Wake Up Call – I wanted to arrange a wake up call. I pressed the auto-dial button on the telephone for wake up calls – but got no answer. I tried the “personal valet” auto-dial – also with no answer. Finally, I tried dialing “0” on the phone. Same result – no answer. With all of the rings I allowed, this went on for two to three minutes. Finally, I used my mobile phone and called the hotel’s outside phone number. An operator answered on the first ring and took my wake up call request. The following morning, the wake up call came 15 minutes late.
- Room Service – After my late wake up call, I called down to place a room service order. The room service department answered on the first ring. However, I was told breakfast would take “over an hour” and a time couldn’t be guaranteed. I skipped breakfast.
- Spa – The massage was quite good, but the “spa experience” was quite weak. The spa itself is street-level in what would have previously been retail or restaurant space. Gina was the therapist looking after me and she had very strong hands. This is the most important part. The staff was all very nice, but perhaps a little rough around the edges. The balance of the experience, however, didn’t live up to expectations. For example, to get to the locker rooms, you walk past a room that couples as an office and a storage closet. The door to the room was open and seeing cardboard boxes piled around a small desk doesn’t start the experience with a soothing feeling. The locker room was small, and more of a bathroom with lockers and one shower. Unpleasantly, both of the toilets were unflushed from prior guests. (This is unbecoming of both the guests and the staff – who should check the locker rooms periodically.) To get to the treatment areas, you have to walk back through the spa lobby and the fully visible street-level windows. I did get a 15% discount as a Diamond guest at least.
- Laundry – I was hoping to get a shirt pressed. Unfortunately, there was no option for overnight cleaning/pressing and no short-notice pressing.
- Cumbersome Diamond Credit Process – The Diamond F&B credit required the use of a voucher which needed to be presented at time of use. It would be much easier for guests if the hotel would simply apply the credit against eligible charges automatically on the bill versus of putting the onus on guests to carry something around with them.
I also had a billing error. It turns out I was double charged for some minibar items. This was resolved easily via email.
None of these issues are “show stoppers” unto themselves, but overall paint a pretty clear picture of a weak hotel. I would not seek to return. If I attend this conference in future years, particularly considering they’re at roughly the same price point, I’ll nearly certainly make the nearby Ritz Carlton my residence.
* * * * *
Seeing hotels of this quality flagged as Waldorf Astoria makes me question the overall approach to the brand. Frankly, I find the service experience at most Westin hotels to be meaningful superior to the offering here. While the original Waldorf is also a weak hotel (hence the closure for renovations under Anbang’s ownership), the brand itself could easily have good standing. I’ve yet to stay at a Waldorf-flagged property that I would want to return to.
The Roosevelt Hotel – A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
130 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112
T: +1 (504) 648-1200