A Newark Airport Hotel That’s Actually Worth Staying At?

My favorite airport hotel in the world is the Intercontinental O’Hare. It’s crazy nice, from the time you’re picked up in a new black party bus instead of the standard beat up van.. to the lobby with an art gallery… beautiful bathrooms… a view of planes lining up to land… plus decent restaurants attached to the property like a Capital Grill.

I much like the SkyCity Marriott in Hong Kong as well, on the water with a great staff and great rooms, top notch bath amenities and free internet, right by the airport.

Now, the best and most important thing most of the time is convenience and proximity, so it’s hard to beat the Sheratons in Frankfurt and Paris (though I don’t especially like either property as a hotel), the Sheraton Toronto airport, the Kempinski Munich, the Crown Plaza in Singapore. If the Novotel Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok had ever been connected to the terminal by tunnel as originally planned and promoted it would be just as up there, it’s close but still requires a shuttle like the SkyCity Marriott.

But in the category of hotels not attached to an airport, and especially filed under “oasis in a wasteland,” is the Renaissance Newark.

I admit I was skeptical when I heard that the Freddie Awards would be held there this year. Last year we were at Citi Field, that’s where the Mets play. We were going from a baseball stadium to a hotel ballroom, near Newark airport no less. (A pretty cool venue is back on the docket for next year.)

I’ve never actually been to an especially nice airport hotel in the New York area. The Sheraton LaGuardia is serviceable and also near great Asian food. But how often do you need an overnight near LaGuardia? JFK is another matter entirely, until a few years ago every option was downright frightening. Back in 2007 I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, it was clean. A few months back I was at the newer Sheraton, the room had a bed (about the best I can say for it). The old Holiday Inn has been refurbished and branded a Hilton, I’ll be checking that out in the future, I’m hoping that it’s at least an improvement.

The Renaissance Newark is unquestionably the best hotel at any of the 3 New York area airports.

Walking into the lobby I was struck by how much I didn’t realize I was at Newark airport.

I checked in around 11:30am. I was told that they had blocked me into a club room that wasn’t ready yet, but if I wanted my room right away I could have a room on a lower floor. That was fine by me, I’d still have club access.

The room was clean, comfortable, functional.

The bathroom was small but immaculate.

The club lounge was nicely appointed, comfortable. There was a refrigerator with soft drinks available all day, and an honor bar in the evening for cocktails. Evening canapés were fruit, cheese, and a couple of hot items. Breakfast was fruit, breads, and a couple of hot items. The coffee was perfectly drinkable.

The view from the lounge is of airport operations.

I’d happily return to the Renaissance Newark for an airport overnight, and can’t really imagine I’d pick any other hotel there.

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. Just curious why you guys didn’t decide to also do FTU there? The Sheraton makes sense if you figure most people are trying to earn SPG nights, but the Renaissance looks better, based on your pics.

  2. What are the prices like? One of the things that bugs me about JFK hotels is that not only are the options poor, but you’re paying 140 for them

  3. @David space/availability, unfortunately. New York market has been really really tough. Plus the Sheraton is cheaper — rooms and food. Trying to get the right mix, a tough thing in the NYC market. Will try to do better with the next one!

  4. Gary,

    Just out of curiosity… given how crappy the overnight layover situation is in NYC, my wife and I decided to take the 3am Amtrak train back to DC after our CX (F!) flight arrives JFK at 2230.

    Am I going to regret that option later? While I would have liked to have gone straight to bed at a normal east coast time, the costs involved (two plane tickets back, overnight at a crappy JFK airport hotel) and the thought that we won’t sleep *that* well at a crappy JFK airport hotel lead me to conclude that two cab rides (JFK-Penn Station, Union Station – ~IAD) and two $50 Amtrak tickets were a decent substitution.

  5. The Grand Hyatt DFW is also quite nice, and it’s hard to beat the location, directly connected to terminal D.

  6. The Hyatt in the Orlando airport is one of my favorite airport hotels. Many of the uniformly good guest rooms have great views for plane geeks (some units even have balconies) and there’s a fun terminal to explore. Even the rooms overlooking the airport atrium are nice, at least during the holidays, thanks to the sleekly ornate Christmas tree rising toward the glass ceiling. Other airport accommodations I appreciate: the InterContinental at JNB (a two minute walk from the terminal) has elegant service, a rooftop indoor pool and a good fitness center; and the Sofitel at Heathrow, while awkwardly designed, is more than serviceable.

  7. Hi Gary
    I know you have not had much luck with the hotels near JFK but the new Hilton is great. I have stayed there twice in the last 2 months and the remodel they did is great, it looks brand new (it use to be a holiday inn). The front desk was fast, efficent, I was given access to the lounge and have had 2 very nice stays.

    Thanks again for your help with my getting LH tickets last year our 74 had the new first from IAD-FRA and it was great.

  8. @Jethro: I’ve stayed at the Logan Hilton, which is connected via a long walkway to the terminals (close walk to terminals A and E, a bit longer to the others). It’s nice for a quick overnight to catch an early morning flight the next day. Not much to do in the area, but if you’re staying at an airport hotel, that’s probably not your priority.

  9. The Rennaissnce Newark is also a Marriott Category 4 hotel, which makes it a great use of a category 1-4 certificate if you have an early flight out of EWR.

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