My favorite hotel in New York, and my favorite big city hotel in the United States, is the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York. My love of breakfast there is something readers of this blog know well, I’m told by two different people that it even became a subject of a journalist’s interview with a Hyatt Vice President.
Hyatt has several good options in New York, I’ve stayed several times at the Andaz Wall Street which is a good hotel, with a confusing breakfast benefit, and a very different location. If I need to be down in the financial district I never hesitate to stay there.
I’m less a fan of the Hyatt 48 Lex but they’ve improved the breakfast benefit for Diamonds since I stayed there (now allowing a dollar credit in the restaurant rather than limiting folks to the single least expensive item on the menu). And it’s a great value on points as a Gold Passport category 4 property — 15,000 points per night instead of the 22,000 that the other Hyatt properties in the city charge, and also eligible to use the free night that comes with the Hyatt Visa each year upon card renewal.
To round out my Hyatt New York City sampler, though, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt the other day near Grand Central Terminal. Everything in the city was pricing especially high. The 5th Avenue Andaz only had a two-bedroom suite available at over $3000. And I was inclined to re-visit the Grand Hyatt, I hadn’t stayed there since they re-opened a year or so ago after an extensive renovation.
Ten years (and two renovations) ago, it was possible to get the hotel on Priceline for $75 much of the time. It was a fairly run down property, but a great value for the city. Half a dozen years ago it was also a go-to that I sent many folks to because you could buy Hyatt Gift Certificates to secure the property at $165 per night all-in, I once had family stay there when they needed 22 room nights — the prevailing rate at the time was ranging from $469 – $519 plus, the gift certificate method represented monumental savings.
I hadn’t stayed there myself since that time period, I didn’t have an especially good stay — very noisy neighbors in the room next door, and walls that seemed to transmit every sound. For the life of me I cannot remember for certain, but I suspect I must have had a connecting room. The club lounge at the time was a bit of a dreary affair. I remember the lounge staff getting in line for the evening buffet themselves, and trying to check out in the lounge I had to wait 20 minutes while the staff member finished up a personal phone call before she was willing to acknowledge me.
That’s not really anything against the Grand Hyatt per se, at most hotels outside of the truly top rung I shrug my shoulders and say “that’s New York” (I can say that having grown up there). It’s also why I adore the Andaz 5th Avenue so much, since I’ve never gotten that sort of indifference and at a better price point than I usually have to pay to avoid it.
I was up in New York for two nights, I only spent one night at this property both because the second night would have been more expensive but also because I was a bit apprehensive about it. I’ll share details on the hotel I stayed in subsequent to this one in an upcoming post.
I checked into the hotel at 1pm. It’s a big, busy property, long line to check in. Fortunately there’s a club checkin in a separate room to the left of the main checkin desks, past the concierge. It was empty, and I was able to be helped immediately (though it was unstaffed the next day, as I’ll get to later.)
The agent in the club check-in let me know that they had blocked a corner deluxe room for me, but that it wasn’t ready yet, so I took a standard king room instead. It was only one night, so I wasn’t concerned about the amount of space the room had to offer.
In fact, while it’s a small room, its design gives it a more spacious feel, and they make a good use of space with the furniture. The only thing strange about it was just how large the closet was off the entryway relative to the rest of the room, it was almost as big as the bathroom.
At this point I was fairly happy with the hotel, I was really liking what they’ve done with the renovation. I was going to be perfectly happy with the room. Although I wasn’t thrilled with housekeeping when I saw all of the fingerprint smudges still on the light switch panel.
I ordered a bit of room service, a burger is $26 and a cobb salad is $27. There’s a $5 tray charge and 18% service charge on top of tax. When ordering I asked for gruyere cheese on the burger, since it was listed as an option in the menu, but was told they don’t offer gruyere so I opted for swiss. I asked about bacon, not listed in the menu, and was told “the burger comes with that.” Great! Except the burger I received didn’t have any bacon on it. I asked if they could do the fries crispy, they came undercooked. And the cobb salad came without blue cheese or tomatoes. The salad was supposed to come with a vinaigrette but came with a tasteless ranch instead. Disappointing, but it was food and I was hungry. I called to have everything picked up when done with the meal, placed the cart outside the room, but it was still outside door nearly 3 hours later.
The highlight of the hotel’s renovation is the club lounge, it’s probably the second best lounge space of any major hotel chain property in the United States, behind the Westin Diplomat whose lounge has indoor and outdoor seating and a deck that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other.
The evening spread was quite modest and cocktails are at a charge.
In addition to what’s pictured above there was cheese and crackers available as well.
The morning breakfast selection was richer, and included smoked salmon, cereals, and yogurt.
I had been given 4pm late checkout as a Diamond, which was really convenient since I was switching hotels and wouldn’t have any issue with being able to checkin to the next property when I left the Grand Hyatt. Unfortunately my keys weren’t programmed for it, so I had to make an extra trip down to the front desk. I walked into Diamond/Club checkin but there was another guest waiting and no one came to help for 5 or 10 minutes, so I got in line in the regular check-in area, where they gave me new keys and promised to email me a folio (which didn’t arrive, but that I printed out of the website when the stay posted to my Gold Passport account).
Ultimately I thought that the renovation of the property was excellent, they’ve made great strides in updating it and now offer an outstanding club lounge space as well. Even though it’s the only Hyatt in the city with a club, though, I’d still pick any of the other three properties over this one. The service leaves a bit to be desired. And given my own personal predilections I simply prefer a property that’s much less busy. Given the size of this one, and its location, it will likely remain in the number four position for me amongst the current Hyatt offerings.