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

In this series of posts, I will be giving my view on a number of New York City hotels in which I stayed in the last 12 months (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 am ranking these hotels in a top 10. The three worst (10, 9 and 8) were tackled in my previous post, covering the Roosevelt Hotel, City Club and the Park Lane. Now things are starting to get better: in this post I will review numbers 7 and 6 on the list, the Bryant Park Hotel and The Marmara Park Avenue.

Number 7: Bryant Park Hotel

I really wanted to like this one for a number of reasons: (1) I like Bryant Park, such a pretty little park in Midtown, (2) the Bryant Park Hotel is located in one of these intriguing old NYC skyscrapers where you imagine that wealthy railroad tycoons once plotted world domination in huge offices on the top floor and (3) one of my colleagues is a big fan and stays there every time when he goes to NY.

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The Bryant Park hotel is the brown skyscraper on the right.

I booked this hotel last minute right before boarding my transatlantic flight to New York. I had a bit of trouble finding a hotel at a reasonable price as it was an extremely busy week in NY with many events (including Tribeca film festival). When a good price came up on HotelTonight, I just locked it in without further thought.

The first impressions were great. When my cab stopped in front of the door, the young doorman very patiently waited while I was sorting out the payment. He then took my bag and greeted me very warmly in a casual yet polite way. He guided me straight to the reception desk and handed me over to a nice receptionist. I really enjoyed how the staff seemed genuinely welcoming in a very laid-back way, even dropping in some jokes.

When I got my room key, I didn’t know I was in for a surprise. They did not mention anything special about the room, but it turned out I got the strangest “upgrade” ever… When I opened the door, I immediately thought there was a mistake, this could not be my bedroom for the night.

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Did they give me a meeting room to sleep in?

But before running back to the reception and telling them that there must have been a mistake, I did a quick tour and discovered that there was actually a bedroom as well! It turned out I was upgraded to the “Boardroom Suite”, which is essentially a meeting room combined with a bedroom. There are times that I complain about rooms where there is hardly a proper desk to work on. Let’s say that this was not one of these times 😉 Definitely not a honeymoon suite, unless you always dreamed about making love in a corporate meeting room. I think I understand why the receptionist didn’t mention anything about this “upgrade”…

The bedroom itself was actually quite OK (relatively minimalist – not a lot of furniture) but with a very plush and large bathroom (lots of marble, separate shower and bath), featuring Molton Brown bath products. I took very few pictures (guess I was still in shock about having to sleep in a meeting room).

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At least you can see a glimpse of the bathroom…

What I really liked about the room (apart from the great bathroom), was the really easy connectivity of the in-room TVs with my iPhone. It’s often quite a hassle to stream content, but here everything was up and running in just a few minutes.

The main downside (apart from the feeling that I was sleeping in the office) was the fact that the blackout curtains were really worthless (this is something that comes back in other online reviews as well). On the fifth floor (where the room was located) you still get a lot of light from the park during the night. Consequently, I really did not get a lot of sleep, and ended up working in my own meeting room as from 4.00 am… I really struggle to understand why the hotel does not solve this issue – seems like a minor investment.

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View from the room.

In the end, I was quite happy that I only booked for one night. I like the general style and atmosphere of the hotel, so I will definitely give it another try in the future (but then hopefully in a cozier room).

Number 6: the Marmara Park Avenue

I stayed here for 2 nights in the same very busy week. This hotel has a beautiful lobby which has a very luxurious vibe (I don’t have pictures of the lobby, but go on Instagram, and you will find tons of them – it’s really the best designed part of the hotel).

When I arrived here around 8 pm, the receptionist spent more than 10 minutes typing away on his computer. When I was starting to get worried that they might be overbooked, he asked his supervisor to come and showed the screen and she reluctantly nodded. Could this be an upgrade? Yep, it was, I was upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite on one of the top floors (17th floor). Feeling very lucky, I rode the elevator to the 17th floor and said hello to my suite.

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I liked the space to work and relax, the views (lots of windows) and the fact that it was very quiet. What I liked a lot less was the design. It didn’t really feel as an upscale suite, but more as a corporate furnished apartment for short term lease – it was all a bit drab and boring, and simply lacked originality. For a suite, it also had the tiniest bathrooms (essentially they were not much bigger than the shower they housed). Actually, a lot of online reviews mention that the bathroom is also super unpractical – there is practically no space to put your “bathroom stuff” and they are totally right. On top of that, the shower is really not made for tall people. But, to stay positive, I loved the funky tiles of the bathrooms.

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View from the suite at The Marmara Park Avenue.
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Funky, but very unpractical bathroom.

I had the dilemma of deciding in which bedroom to sleep. However, this was quickly solved for me. The air conditioning did not work in one of the bedrooms (unfortunately, the nicest one of the two). I called and they sent up a maintenance guy who actually found out that some cable inside the unit was not plugged in. But once plugged in, the unit started working but could only produce hot air, and I am not really a fan of saunas. So, they sent up another maintenance guy who switched it back off and blamed it on the unstable weather. Right. If I was paying the full price for this suite, I would not be very happy with that explanation 🙂

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Smallest bedroom of the two, but at least it had working air conditioning.
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Not the most comfy chair…
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The “master bed room” which also doubled as a sauna…

There was also an iPad in the room which you supposedly could use to order room service. It did not work, and quite frankly I didn’t bother to call for that. There were three big flat screen TVs in the room, but none of them supported streaming from an iPhone.

All in all, I had an OK stay here and I would be fine with staying here again, if better alternatives are not available…

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