Hotels of New York: the good, the bad and the ugly (Part I)

In a city of such renown, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a decent hotel. I traveled to NYC very frequently in the last 12 months as I was working on a major deal for a client. My hotel budget was around 300 USD per night. In most European cities, I would be able to stay in a pretty plush hotel for that money. In New York unfortunately you can end up in places for which I would not even pay a fraction of that amount in Europe. Many big NYC hotels are a bit like the main NY airport (JFK), i.e. in a rather shabby condition. They know people are coming to New York anyway so why bother investing money in keeping it up-to-date.

In this series of posts, I will be giving my view on a number of hotels in which I stayed (in chronological order, these were the Roosevelt Hotel, The Renwick Hotel, City Club, Chambers Hotel, Gild Hall, Bryant Park Hotel, the Renaissance New York Midtown, the Marmara Park Avenue, the Park Lane and (last but definitely not least) the Knickerbocker.

I will not do a full-on separate review of these hotels for the following reasons. Firstly, some of these hotel are simply not very good and not worthy of a full review. And secondly, I was working like hell on these trips. So, when I took pictures, they were a few snapshots and not necessarily great quality.

I will start with the bad and the ugly in this overview, to finish with my top 3 of the above list. This first post will cover the three lowest ranked hotels in the list, the Roosevelt Hotel, City Club and the Park Lane.

Nr. 10: The Roosevelt Hotel

On my first trip to NYC for this client, I asked their super nice travel coordinator to put me in a hotel not too far from Grand Central as I had meetings nearby and some train travel as well.

Well, I got what I wanted, the hotel was only a minute away from Grand Central. I located the Roosevelt very easily, but my good spirits quickly faded away after I entered the doors of the hotel.

Upon entering the lobby, it looked a bit like the hall of an old train station, actually quite grand. But don’t look to close, or you will start to notice the cheap looking bar and shops…

Review Roosevelt Hotel NYC
Lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel

Checking in was unfortunately not too different from waiting in line to buy a ticket in the train station. This hotel has 1,015 rooms and there were exactly three receptionists working the desk, resulting in a pretty long wait, and don’t expect a lot of enthusiasm and friendliness.

When I finally got my room key, I made my way to the elevators. I cannot remember the precise number of elevators, but there are definitely not nearly enough of them for the size of this hotel. I think I did wait at times for 10-15 minutes to get an elevator (which will then make 10 stops along the way). You better not leave for a meeting and then in the lobby realize that you forgot some documents in your room, as I did…

When I finally made it to the right floor, it was quite a struggle to find my room. This hotel has a strange logic in allocating room numbers. Luckily, a room maid pointed me in the right direction.

When entering the room, the realization struck me that I would have to stay there for 3 nights. What a sad and stuffy room. I snapped a few pictures, but did not even try to take a decent one (as it was not worth the effort) and I want to spare you the view of the bath room which was in an even sorrier state. I am pretty sure that the last update to these rooms was somewhere in the late seventies… apart from a new television set.

IMG_0608

IMG_0609

When I had sort of accepted my faith, I opened my laptop to do some work and connect to the WiFi. I should not have been surprised, but I found out that the internet connection offered by this hotel also dates from a decade ago – the most expensive package on offer was 30 MB per day (and just to be clear we are talking about megabytes here, not gigabytes). So, forget about doing a Skype call. I think the internet data plan during my transatlantic flight was actually cheaper…

I will not sugar coat it, this was one of the worst hotels I stayed in in during the last 5 years. If this was a budget hotel, I would have happily put up with it, as you get what you pay for. But the rate for this “experience” was well over 250 USD per night (not including the hefty fee charged for the ridiculous wifi package).

The good bit is that since I wanted to limit my stay in this room as much as possible, I found a pretty cool food hall nearby, Urbanspace Vanderbilt.

Urbanspace food hall

Nr. 9: City Club

This was one was again chosen by the travel coordinator, and after this one, I realized that it might be better to take matters in my own hands when it comes down to hotel reservations.

The City Club is trying to position itself as a small luxury boutique hotel, but is honestly miles away from anything that would fit in that description.

The lobby is definitely small, probably the tiniest hotel lobby I have ever seen, but it does decidedly not feel luxurious. However, the receptionists are very nice, helpful and attentive.

The rooms are nicer than the Roosevelt, at least here they tried to decorate somewhat, but they are still rather tired and stuffy. The windows are thin and you pretty much hear all outside noise (which is ever present in NYC). The air conditioning unit seemed ancient and made quite some noise.

City Club NYC review

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City Club NYC review
Framing some random record and putting it on the wall does not make this room cool, sorry guys.

These chairs, the carpet,… it just makes me cringe. The bathroom design was quite weird, lots of marble stone.

City Club review
Yep, that’s my iPhone in the mirror there. Bath products are from Bigelow.
IMG_0717
Brown marble?

I think you have seen enough now to know why this is not in the top 3. Let’s move on to the next one.

Nr. 8: The Park Lane

The Park Lane is a typical huge NYC hotel, it has 631 rooms on 46 floors. It has a killer location right on Central Park. It’s not the youngest building, but it has been kept in better shape than the Roosevelt Hotel and for NYC standards the rooms are huge (and have great views depending on their location).

The lobby is not very attractive. When I was there in winter, it was cold, busy and felt rather cheap (for example, there is a “business center” which is one computer without even a seat).

Park Lane NYC review

Park Lane NYC review

Let’s say that the design of the room is not really my style – my granny would really dig it though. But I liked the size and the view and I really enjoyed working on that desk. This was my view during the day time:

IMG_0754

Park Lane NYC review

The bathroom is rather outdated (forgot to take pictures). All in all, this is an acceptable hotel. I am not sure how long it will remain a hotel, as I understood there are some plans to turn this hotel into apartments.

I will be covering the other hotels in the next posts of this series. My post on number 7 and 6, the Bryant Park Hotel and the Marmara Park Avenue can be found here.

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