Return to the Andaz 5th Avenue, Andaz Suite with Balcony

Back in December I wrote an extensive post on the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York. Bottom-line is that there were a few things that could be improved, but that I thought it was likely to become my default property in Manhattan.

I spent the weekend there, this time in a suite. I had a Gold Passport Diamond suite upgrade that needed to be applied to a stay by February 28. I paid one night of the stay (always worth considering if you qualify for status based on stays rather than nights, plus when there’s a decent promotion based on stays it can be advisable as well though the new Hyatt promo which is based on nights doesn’t begin until April 1) and redeemed for the other night. The suite upgrade would technically apply only to the paid night, but my ‘private line concierge’ let me know that the hotel was happy to extend the confirmed upgrade for both nights of the stay.

One of the things I like about Gold Passport is the private line concierge. Starwood has platinum concierges which can assist with stays, but I found most of them to be more or less just reservations agents (though if you found one you liked you could ask them to be your regular agent). Hyatt will assign a dedicated agent to you, in my case I let them know that I prefer to work via email rather than phone and I was assigned an agent who worked well that way. (Or so I thought: the one I initially was assigned to wasn’t very helpful at all, I’ve been re-assigned to the greatest and most responsive specialist ever and that alone builds loyalty.) It’s my understanding that Hyatt will assign a dedicated specialist to any Diamond member who requests one.

My wife was checking in ahead of me, since I wasn’t going to get out of the office early on Friday and she needed to be up in the city by mid-afternoon. No problem, her name was added to the reservation and the check-in process was smooth for her. And my wife is on the ball. When I got there I asked which Diamond amenity my wife had selected, and it was the points…

So no ‘amenity’ but there were delicious cookies and a note waiting in the room.

We had room 1212, and it wasn’t much larger than the Extra Large View King room that I had back in December, though the suite did have two separate rooms. No public library view (which wasn’t a premium that I valued anyway), it did have a balcony which is fairly rare for New York City hotels. And the bathroom was very well placed — instead of being by the doorway it received direct light through the bedroom window which took care of the biggest complaint on my last stay that it was just too darned dark in the bathroom.

The other complaint I had last time was that there were no drawers in the room, on anything more than a single night stay I prefer to unpack. Well, the suite had a chest with a drawer in the bedroom, so again complaint solved!

A highlight for me is certainly the library space, they have plenty of books and a place to work where they offer complimentary wine in the evenings and refreshments throughout the day. I’m just happy for a refrigerator with an unlimited supply of bottled water.

The minibar also offers complimentary soft drinks, but I always want more than two waters per day between the two of us. (The complimentary snacks in the minibar, while limited, are quite tasty — very good chips, a top end granola bar, and chocolate.)

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After my last stay I queried the hotel for the recipe to their lemon poppyseed pancakes. Diamond members get complimentary breakfast, the breakfast can even be taken via room service, and those pancakes were just amazing — I wanted to make them at home. Well, I was promised the recipe but they never came. I asked again, an apology was forthcoming, but again no recipe.

This time I ordered those same lemon poppy seed pancakes again and they just weren’t the same at all. Perhaps they’ve changed chefs (the hash brown potatoes were different too) but I admit I was really disappointed.

Problem was solved the next morning, I just ordered something different for breakfast, it was all perfectly good but I wasn’t going to be comparing the dish to the amazing breakfast I had on my December stay which is certainly for the better.

Checkout was smooth, my folio was preprinted at the desk. I didn’t take them up on web checkout because there’s a departure gift, I didn’t want to miss that mostly so that I’d be up to speed on the current offerings. The agent who gave me my bill didn’t offer me anything, and I asked whether they still have departure amenities. They do, they opened the box and the choices were lip balm, hand sanitizer, or a lollipop. I chose the lip balm.

The agent checking me out asked whether I needed a cab, I did as I was headed to the airport. He pushed for me to take a car instead, which I wasn’t all that keen on. A cab is ~ $35, a quick ride, no reason to pay more.

He was ultra-insistent, assured me that the car was right there and that he’d “try” to find a cab. He named the price for the BMW at $55, and I figured I’d just take it.

Smooth ride into the airport, the driver ran my credit card and emailed me the receipt — for $69.95! I sorted it out with the driver over email who said the difference was “taxes and tolls.” Uh, yeah. He offered to split the difference, I declined, and he’s refunded me the $14.95.

All in all the Andaz remains the best value in the city for a Diamond Gold Passport member, even for folks who have top tier status with other chains as well I think. This weekend they had room rates under $300, and to have a confirmed suite with balcony (or even just a really spacious room, no upgrade cert required) and room service breakfast plus complimentary beverages and internet, it’s such a steal for Manhattan.

And it is a nice hotel, I love the bathrooms in particular and found everything about it perfectly comfortable — my only kvetches on my last stay weren’t issues on this one. So I’ll definitely be back.

Update: Someone at the Andaz must read my blog, or more likely the post triggered a Google Alert for them, because this afternoon I received an email with the recipe for the lemon poppy seed pancakes.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hi Gary I hope you review the Andaz Wall St. soon. I just compared a 2 night stay at W Downtown with a 2 night stay at Andaz Wall St. I paid the same price for both rooms out of my pocket.

    I am a SPG Platinum and Hyatt Diamond. The choice was clear. SPG gave little or no room upgrade. No suites are available yet, and no breakfast or other perks outside of internet access were offered.

    Hyatt provided an apartment sized room with a bathroom large enough to host a Roman orgy, and a $50 breakfast credit per day at their Wall and Water restaurant. This is in addition to free minibar, and soft drinks and coffee in their lobby. I also saw many people sipping wine in their comfortable lobby, although I am not sure if this was a free benefit. SPG needs to step up their game.

    I will say the “scene” at W was much more trendy if that is your preference. I did see a few older guests walk in looking almost shellshocked as it is not the most welcoming environment with the check in on the 5th floor right next to a throbbing club/bar scene…

  2. I’m also a Hyatt Diamond but I don’t have a “dedicated” concierge – is this something I need to request? I usually just call the diamond line.

  3. After reading some of the Hyatt reviews, am seriously considering switching from Starwood Platinum to Hyatt Diamond. I got spoiled in Asia, but am now traveling more and more in the mainland U.S. and have not been impressed with the Starwood properties, especially in D.C. Starwood should be offering complimentary breakfast when no club lounge is available, same as Hyatt.

  4. Nice update. I am more or less living in this place Apr-June and no better place to be at in NYC. Last time we stayed here we were in a similar suite just above the balcony ones which had not yet opened. Think all the suites are on Library Way (41st) rather than 5th and I prefer it that way. I have stayed on 5th side once or twice and it is pretty noisy.

    @MS – W is not at all trendy. If corporate stay dorks being courted by hookers is your idea of trendy then yes maybe it is! 🙂 I often stay just because I get such a good rate (<$200 a night) but find the place horribly untrendy and get embarrassed they try so hard to make it look otherwise.

    I'm also curious about this PL facility. How do you get it started?

  5. @Mordy I really don’t know, haven’t kept up, and I didn’t even look closely at the room types — assumed that a separate room means it must have been an Andaz suite, that’s just what my wife received when she checked in.

  6. I would say Andaz 5th definitely reads your blog. This is not the standard dimond upgrade at all. I suspect they’re using your blog’s popularity to give others the impression they will have a far better experience then they really will. Perhaps you need to start staying under a pseudonym, as trusted restaurant reviewers do. 🙂

  7. They must read your blog – when I stayed there it was one of the top 5 worst hotel stays I have ever experienced. Glad to hear that you had a different experience (and positive one!)

  8. @Liz I find that hotels see what I post — not because they read my blog but because they all just sign up for a Google Alert that sends them an email when the name of their property is mentioned online. So no cause for hubris here, I ain’t that special 🙂

  9. @Sheri Hah! I just wish the Hyatt Pier 66 had been a blog reader last year then! 🙂 Rates were pretty low the nights I stayed so that probably had more to do with the room type (occupancy) and the lemon poppyseed pancakes I had loved so much last time were very much off so I didn’t *feel* like I was getting better treatment 🙂 But since I don’t earn points under a pseudonymn, and no one else is picking up my hotel tab, I’m probably stuck with my own name. 😉

  10. Can you share or email me the recipe for the pancakes? I often get lemon poppyseed muffins and the pancakes sound like a great idea.

    Thanks.

  11. According to the GM, who seems to have vanished into thin air, the suite upgrades get you either Andaz suite or Andaz loft, but they put you in loft by default.

    I am canceling a slew of stays here because Hyatt don’t give points on the THRILLIST promo. Sucks big time. Hyatt was a good program for one year (2010) IMHO and is sucking big time this year. SPG will be the beneficiary

  12. More of a waffle kinda guy but if Gary says these pancakes are winners then I’d like to try them too 🙂
    Like to know when Chef Gary tries the recipe how they turn out.In Sydney Australia the legendary “Bills” published thier Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter in the Sydney Herald some years ago.In all my decades of travel I consider these to be the Gold Standard of pancakes.Having said that when I tried to duplicate them at home they were a far cry from the original!
    Must be a step or two they omitted from the recipe

  13. I was also snared by the Thrillist promo trap – it’s disappointing to see Hyatt degenerating into a program where technicalities and T & C games are the rule, instead of common sense.

    At the very least, they should allow anyone who booked Thrillist to pay the cash difference between that rate and the eligible rate (in other words, to negate the 20% discount) and be granted the point and stay credits. This comes close to win-win: the hotel gets added revenue, the guest gets the points & stay credit, and the guest also walks away with the knowledge that he/she needs to be more vigilant about Hyatt rates going forward.

  14. Gary – I’d love the pancake recipe too. Had that thing yesterday – best pancake of my life!

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