I spent this past weekend at the brand new Hyatt 48 Lex in New York.
I’ve written about my stays at the Andaz 5th Avenue several times over the past year (see here, here, here, and about their pancakes here). That was the first place I searched. Standard rooms were sold out, which means no award nights available either. The Diamond Guaranteed Availability rate was about $750. So that wasn’t going to happen.
Next up, I guess I do love the Andaz brand plus I figured that staying down on Wall Street would be much cheaper considering it was a weekend, I checked out the Andaz Wall Street where I stayed back in May. Also sold out of standard rooms, no award nights, and a Guaranteed Availability rate of ~ $650.
Mind you, these hotels were sold out on a weekend six weeks in advance. Ouch.
Then it occurred to me, the Hyatt 48 Lex had just opened, maybe they’d have space since they were brand new and it would also be a chance to try out something new.
Turns out that they were getting a lower room rate than the Andaz Wall Street, but not by much! About $550 a night. But they had award nights available. The two Andaz hotels are Gold Passport category 6 properties and 22,000 points per night (as is the Grand Hyatt New York for that matter, though they’ve put a ton of money in to renovate the place the biggest problem with my last stay was thin walls and noise that kept me up so I’m not inclined to return). That’s the most expensive points category. Surprisingly Hyatt 48 Lex is category 4, 15,000 points per night, a veritable bargain in comparison and a pretty good return on points considering paid rates.
After booking I considering switching to the Parker Meridien, an SPG Category 5 which had cash and points available but actually realized that the award rate plan at the Hyatt 48 Lex showed as non-cancellable which is exceedingly strange. Hyatt award nights are generally fully cancellable. I get a cancellation policy that mirrors paid rates. I get making award nights non-cancellable at a unique property like the Park Hyatt Maldives, where they won’t easily just be able to re-sell the room. But in Manhattan? When fully cancellable Hyatt Daily Rate rooms are available? Surely that can’t be right. I suspect it could be the bumps along the road with a new hotel, since they also had several room types come up when booking with points rather than just the base level room. So it seems like award booking rate plans need to be sorted generally at this property.
On arrival at the property I opened the front door and sort of startled a staff member standing in the hallway, he then hit his remote control to open up the second set of doors. Most of the time during the stay though there wasn’t anyone out front, which also meant no one helping to flag down cabs, the best taxi strategy became walking across the street to the Radisson. (This was the last time there was anyone working close to the door.)
The morning of arrival I had called Hyatt to add my wife’s name to the reservation since she was going to turn up a few hours ahead of me. Turns out that whatever the agent did, or whatever the hotel did, I wound up with two reservations — one in my name and one in my wife’s, which created a bit of confusion when they gave me a key to the second room on arrival and no one had been in it!
That was sorted quickly enough, up to the room we were assigned in the very very slow elevator. That’s one of the most frustrating things about the stay, the two elevators are relatively slow and not enough for the tall narrow building. The wait could be a few minutes. And frequently the elevator would be holding equipment or materials that staff were taking up and down the hotel,.
I got up to the 8th floor and found my Premier King 04 room, which is a small suite.
Walking in down a corridor there’s a minibar with half bottles of wine on a shelf, some decent bottles in fact, a mini-dishwasher, and a sink. Sadly no mini-fridge, though the Lexington studio — which is one room type below what we had — apparently has one.
There’s a living room with small couch and small chair, along with a desk. The bathroom is decent size although the sink is a bit close to the shower, it’s not really possible to get ready while someone else gets in and out of the shower. I was certainly happen with the Warren Tracomi bath amenities, much better than Portico White Ginger (still expected to go away in a few months), and housekeeping added a second set beside the first one when making up the room
The bedroom is small enough that although the room was called a Premier King, it actually had a Queen bed.
My overall take on the room was that it’s decent sized for New York but small, certainly the smallest suite I’ve ever had. And that there aren’t enough outlets, a reason I’m glad I travel with a compact power strip.
Evening turndown service cleared away used towels and placed chocolates by the bedside, but didn’t do what I appreciate most — leaving behind a bottle of water.
The hotel offers all guests the second floor “Lexington Lounge” with coffee, juice and croissants in the morning and cookies in the afternoon plus cocktails for purchase. There are conference rooms and a complimentary computer for guest use.
Overall, the hotel isn’t as nice as the Andaz properties though it isn’t designed to be. It’s new, a bit quirky, and it works for New York City. Where I fault it is in its Diamond recognition. Which isn’t to say that they don’t honor benefits. They do, and they provide a letter at check-in outlining what those benefits are. But they very much adhere to the letter of the program as they see it, and nothing more.
Breakfast is in the restaurant and very specific — two eggs, potatoes, bacon or sausage, toast. And coffee or juice. That’s coffee or juice. It’s the $13 item on the restaurant menu, and they don’t even promote a $13 breakfast credit, they allow you the $13 item. Which would get quite boring on multi-night stays, in fact I didn’t go back down to breakfast a second time.
The letter even says that you’re supposed to identify yourself as a Diamond in the restaurant, I thought perhaps to make the breakfast not charged at all, though I was given a slip to sign and it was taken off the bill (perhaps a similar credit amount does exist and would be removed). I assume the reason is so that the waiter can emphasize that the only thing you get is the eggs, so that there’s no confusion. When I did order, I was told it was a choice of eggs but but the server left before I could express my choice, he brought scrambled. Toast was given but no butter or jam.
Internet is of course free for Diamond members. But internet is set up so that each connection is charged separately. If you’re two people in the room, that’ll be two connections. If you have two devices, that’s two connections. You can switch back and forth between devices on a single connection. But if you are connected to two devices at once, only one is free, you have to pay for the second one. That means if my wife and I want to be online at the same time, my Diamond benefits don’t get free internet for the room… just for me.
Bottom-line is that they do honor what they are required to, but in doing so I felt anything but welcome. The hotel is a real bargain at category 4. You can even use an annual Hyatt Visa free night (which is good at any hotel up to category 4 only). But it’s not a place that’s feels better than it is, for me it felt like less than the sum of its parts.