At first pass, I missed the turn into the walled, roundabout parking area of the Waldorf Astoria. Know why? Because I didn’t know there was such a thing as a roundabout driveway in the Gold Coast, where every piece of real estate is treated like gold and used to its greatest potential. How wrong I was. The lavishness continues inside the hotel, which you could call “French manor-style,” but “palatial” is more accurate. Built in 2008 as the Elysian, the Waldorf Astoria brand took over the space in 2012, and has done a superb job of maintaining its elegant, over-the-top image. Turn your eyes up in the bright white lobby and you’ll see a starburst chandelier, which was based on a brooch that Coco Chanel used to wear, and the swirly designs in the marble are inspired by her apartment. The rooms here are among the largest in town, decorated with furnishings that are artfully residential, and many are equipped with balconies and fireplaces. Of the 215 units, only 65 are standards and the rest are suites, drawing in, surprisingly enough, a good number of families.
Chef Michael Mina’s Margeaux Brasserie serves stellar French fare, which you can burn off in the pool and generous health club. One warning, though: The pool is more of a lap pool and less of a kid-friendly play area. Look close and you’ll see hundreds of thousands of small, pink, Italian tiles on the bottom. The goal: so guests can feel as though they’re swimming through a bed of roses. Seriously.