This place is well was well regarded by fellow travelers as the best in Key West. Our experience was very mixed, which is unfortunate for the investment one makes when staying with the Waldorf Astoria brand.
There are great things about this resort. They include the location right on the beach. Get a ocean view room and you see palms and water so close to your balcony. The hotel itself was built in the 1920s and retains the original charm in the main buildings. The simple use of dark timber and light fabrics gives a good feeling of sophistication. The beautiful poolside garden with palms and hedges is also a highlight. Two large pools sit beside a central walkway leading to the beach. The pools are large and set well in their surrounds. The beach is pretty, and well manicured by staff each morning, but beware the rocks close to the shore. A pier and water sports company provides the usual array of fun in the sun and sea.
The hallways and rooms feel dated. Simple art deco furnishings give the rooms a nice ambiance but the bathroom was small in our ocean view room. The beds were uncomfortable with poor back support and squeaky supports. Our air conditioner was very loud and disturbed sleep. A request was made to the concierge to remedy this but nothing was done and there was no follow-up with us. The weather cooled so we made do with fresh air. The room had a Nespresso machine so you have perhaps your only chance to get a decent espresso.
There is a little shop, which serves filtered coffee, yogurts, salads, pastries, and all other sundry items. Don’t bother with the espresso coffee, even though the machine is an automated grinder the staff somehow seemed to create an insipid weak brew. The poolside food is of a good standard.
For a good meal go to Louie’s Backyard, 5 minutes away on foot. Also try Salute for a more casual meal of fish 5 minutes in the other direction.
The real hit and miss of this place was the wild variation in staff skills and training. We had some fine encounters with professional and courteous staff at the bell desk, front desk, concierge and restaurants. However, we also regularly felt we struck some of the most memorably poor service we have experienced at any hotel in our world travels regardless of the star rating. A memorable experience was a trainee concierge who made no eye contact and kept typing an email while greeting us. In response to our polite cessation of our inquiry indicating we would wait until she finished, she tersely rebuked us with an “I’m listening”. She then denied all knowledge about a simple trip to the Everglades on our way back from the Keys. This could have been googled in a moment. She seemed to want to maintain that this vast swamp didn’t really exist. Her interpersonal skills made us feel very unwelcome. We gave her the benefit of the doubt due to her trainee status, suspecting she may not have reached the part in her training about basic human interaction. However, the next day we received another disinterested and dismissive response from a more senior concierge. She dismissed us with a “you could google that”. Gentle coaxing saw her reluctantly google this for us and in 5 seconds the information was on the screen in the counter between us. We also noted that we had two other very pleasant and professional encounters with some young male concierge staff, indicating to us some interesting variations in personality and training.
The service at the poolside restaurant was also very patchy. An abundance of waiters were apparent but often chatting to each other while guests exercised increasingly gymnastic gestures to gain their attention. Twice, when we eventually got service to order a drink the waiters told us that they were going home soon and wanted to know if we needed to keep the tab open. We worked out that this was related to their tips, which they seemed most interested in securing rather than helping us feel looked after.
Housekeeping also left a lot to be desired. We had to call for shampoo, milk and dry cleaning to be delivered to the room as all items were not re-stocked or returned.
We been to Waldorf Astoria hotels before and been impressed by the courteous and professional service. This place was a contrast for us. These impressions were shared by other guests we talked to, hence were unlikely just a series of random events.
You want to love this hotel. Its location and beauty are remarkable. When all goes well with staff it is a pleasant and relaxed place. When it doesn’t go well with staff it is a profoundly unique experience at a place aiming high.
A room on the third floor at the very end of the guest wings is close to the beach and has a great v...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.