I don’t make it to Manhattan nearly as often as I used to. My work doesn’t generally take me there (into one of the airports, perhaps, but not into the city itself) and I’ve hit the age where many of my friends who lived there have now migrated to another borough. When I do venture in, I’m much more likely to stay at a smaller boutique property than a large convention hotel. But as the conference that I was attending was at the Hilton New York, I searched for a property nearby so that the early morning and late evening time at that hotel would not be an obstacle. I also wanted a room that would not cost me $400 a night during a week that not only saw large conference and the Fancy Foods show at the Javitz but also many tourists coming in to overlap July 4th. The Sheraton New York Times Square it was.
We had an interesting time getting to the hotel, thanks to our Uber driver insisting that the Sheraton Times Square and Sheraton New York were not the same thing (that’s definitely a naming and marketing protocol that Starwood needs to straighten out as I noticed repeated confusion with this throughout the week from locals). It doesn’t quite explain why Uber tried to take us to the Hilton Midtown, but we were really to relax a bit by the time we finally got to the hotel.
The lobby could have easily been mistaken for Grand Central. As it was noon, we encountered a mass sea of bodies swarming about and check-in lines looked chaotic (what I’m typically accustomed to on a Friday afternoon in Las Vegas or New Orleans at the peak of Mardi Gras weekend). We found that it remained this way for much of our stay as there were often very large groups of school-aged children in matching t-shirts milling about while their adults tried to organize them.
I found my way to the Starwood Preferred check-in line (because status does have it’s privileges!) where I encountered a very enthusiastic bouncer in a suit who was determined to keep everyone out of that line. He asked to see membership cards from the guests in front of us and quickly moved several people out and off to the longer general check-in queues. I was a bit flummoxed as I do not carry my hotel cards on me but he allowed us to stay in the line when I told him I was Platinum.
We waited for about five minutes and then reached the front of the line and a wonderfully friendly front desk clerk. Our room was not ready yet – the front desk clerk informed us that the current guest had requested a late check-out so she gave us a voucher for complimentary bag check and also offered up her personal ideas for what to do while we waited, which included a street fair a couple blocks away.
We had our own ideas though that involved brunch at Pigalle and some World Cup football to be followed by lining up at the TKTS booth for tickets to see a show that evening.
We dropped our bags downstairs in a conference room (as we were told that the lobby bag check had hit it’s overflow limits) and headed out to the city.
When returned later that afternoon, our room was ready.
We were assigned to room 4525, one floor away from the Club Lounge. When we opened the door, I was pleasantly surprised at the relative size of the room, especially since I have occasionally been give shoebox rooms, even with status.
My colleague immediately commented on the musty smell – and indeed, it smelled like an old city hotel that had been hermetically sealed for a few decades. I knew that would not be worth complaining about so we settled in. In lieu of a desk, the room had a small table and two chairs. This made it somewhat difficult for both of us to get work done but it was not a major stumbling block.
A big thing for me in hotels is how easy they are to work in and maintain my normal routine, which includes being able to plug in bedside should I decide to work up until I fall asleep. I was very pleased with the set up in this room where the shared lamp/nightstand had plenty of working outlets and enough surface space to house electronics for both of us as well as our bottled waters.
The bathroom was small – it housed a shower/tub combo, a small vanity with sink, and toilet. There was not much room for grooming as the toilet jutted out into the right hand counter space, which made it a bit cumbersome to have two women getting ready at the same time.
All in all, the room was not a bad set up – especially for an older New York City property.
The Club Lounge is relatively unremarkable. We were able to access it 24/7 for water and sodas and they had light snacks in the evening (veggies, hummus, cheese, crackers). Due to the 7 am start of our conference each morning, we did not once make it in for breakfast. The Club was a quiet place to work during the day, according to my colleague who snuck in there to get some work done while I was on conference calls in the afternoon. It tended to be relatively crowded in the evenings, which may have been helped along by World Cup matches being aired.
I did not use the fitness facility but my colleague reported that it was sizeable and in great condition.
We did have an opportunity to use the hotel business center which is run by FedEx Kinkos. Service was very good.
In the evenings, the hotel has security posted at the entrance to the elevator lobby checking room keys. We never were stopped for ours.
The elevators in the building are older high-speed lifts. They are fairly fast but also tend to jerk a bit. I mention this because it seemed to frequently bother other guests in the elevator.
We requested – and were given – a late check out on the last day. I headed down to check out around 12:30 pm and encountered my staff “friend” from a few days ago who was again doing his best to prevent anyone from accessing the Gold/Platinum line. He laughed again when I reminded him I didn’t have my membership card. I was checked out the same friendly front desk clerk and we chatted for a few minutes this time.
This the time the lobby was relatively empty – the first time we saw it that way during the entire stay. And then my Uber driver arrived and it was time to leave Manhattan.
Verdict? I’d stay here again. As I’ve mentioned, I prefer a boutique hotel and also among Starwood properties in New York, this is not my favorite (one of the Ws or the Westin Times Square would get that nod within the same relative price family). But if I had another conference in that immediate range, this would work perfectly!