I recently wrote about my experience flying on American Airline's transcontinental business class product from Los Angeles to New York City, complete with Kardashian drama (LINK). When I landed at JFK I was going to be spending the night in NYC before continuing onward the next afternoon to my home in Chicago. It was, oddly enough, the cheapest option from Los Angeles to Chicago for the dates I needed. While overnighting in NYC would obviously increase the overall costs due to needing a hotel, I didn't mind at all since I wanted to visit with some friends that lived in NYC and I could kill two birds with one stone this way.
So from that one trip I as able to try out AA's new business class on a cross country flight and also spend a night in NYC having dinner with friends. Win-win in my book!
Now I just needed to figure out where to stay for that night. One of my friends offered to let me sleep on his couch but I'm a bit of a habitual, freight train-esque snorer. Generally speaking I'm in the business of keeping my friendships intact, so I politely declined the offer and went about looking at hotel options. As anyone can tell you, NYC isn't exactly the best market to be looking for inexpensive lodgings. While deals can be had, generally you're looking at around $200/night for any decent hotel property, $160/night if you're lucky. I'm open to AirB&B but for the areas I wanted to stay it wasn't looking like a deal either.
I poked around for a few weeks prior to my trip and with the above in mind, I ended up booking at the Marriott Downtown New York City for $189. It was a relatively good price for NYC and it was in one of the two neighborhoods I needed to be in for my visit.
It's located one block south of the World Trade Center memorial site, which at the time was open to the public but did not have a completed museum and adjacent transit center. Since a visit to the memorial was the only other item on my NYC agenda other than dinner with friends, this seemed like a good fit for the evening.
Getting to the hotel was easy - I took a flat rate cab from JFK which cost $52 plus tolls and tip. With a little bit of late afternoon traffic it was about 45 minutes terminal door to hotel door. I opted not to take the LIRR into Penn Station as the transfer to local subway lines just didn't seem like something I wanted to do with luggage in tow. I was dropped off on West Street where the main entrance to the hotel is located. Bell men were waiting outside and offered to help me with my luggage though I declined and made my way into the lobby on my own. Independent woman and all.
My first impression of the hotel based on the lobby - kind of small, pretty dated. It looked more like a Residence Inn in a small town in Michigan than a Marriott in downtown NYC to be honest. Columns lined and crowded the lobby space while brass metal fixtures provided an aged feel to everything. Up a small set of steps into the lobby and to the right was the check-in desk. I will give them props for having some fun, colorful, New York inspired art on the walls though, which you can see in the pictures above and below.
Things got better here. I was greeted by a very friendly agent who processed my check-in quickly and efficiently. I've mentioned in other reviews that I'm not the biggest fan of check-in agents going through a long, complicated explanation of everything you could ever imagine wanting to know about the hotel. I'd much rather ask the questions I have when I need them answered on my own time than stand around at the front desk for minutes on end hearing about room service hours and today's drink specials at the bar. I just need a smile, a key, and a warm wish to enjoy my stay. Check, check, and check!
The Marriott roller coaster ride of happiness took another dip as I ended up waiting for quite awhile on an elevator up to my room. It's a very tall hotel with quite a few floors and the number of elevators available just didn't seem adequate to handle the traffic. Not to mention the long wait times meant that a backlog of passengers started to gather around the elevators meaning often times when a ride arrived not everyone could fit onto the lift, especially with luggage in tow. I did eventually make it up to my room, but I had to wait about five minutes to do so.
Once I was inside the room things again got a little better. While the lobby and public spaces seemed a bit dated, the rooms looked like they'd been recently renovated. It didn't strike me as the most elegant of spaces, but it was a marginal step up from what I had expected to find based on the look of the lobby.
The entryway was floored with wood and the walls were painted a warm shade of red. It was a nice shock of color when you first walk-in, but seemed a bit odd as the wall color in the rest of the room outside of the entry way was a standard issue beige. They really didn't mess too well. The NYC inspired art work continued in the room with some nice black and white photos.
Directly to the left when you walk into the room is a relatively small bathroom, though I suppose you could call it NYC big.
A vanity was provided with a little bit of counter space for your own toiletries. They provided a nice little basket on top of the vanity with a lot of extra towels which was a nice touch. I tend to use a lot of towels when showering and getting ready in the morning, so having a few extra is always welcome. Above the toilet was another black and white photo of NYC.
Also on the vanity was a tissue box, a few glasses for water, and some Thann aromatherapy products. I'm not a big Marriott customer, so Thann products were entirely new to me. They were labeled as Aromatic Wood-scented and to be honest the scent was pretty decent. Not my favorite hotel product but far from the worst I've ever encountered. That title goes to a body wash I was assaulted by at a Best Western in Helsinki that smelled like a pickled pine tree's sweat sock.
The hand wash was also Thann-branded but was labeled as orange & tangerine scented. It seemed slightly different than the Aromatic Wood products though those also had a strong citrus note to them. They might be the same or at least in the same scent family. The shower took up the remainder of the bathroom and was a standard issue multipurpose tub/shower combo with a plastic shower curtain.
Back in the room, the first thing you run into from the entry way is a desk/dresser combination.
A flat screen TV with a full slate of television channels was available though I didn't turn it on during my stay. Storage space below the TV was adequate if you needed it. Next to the dresser was a medium-sized desk with a lamp and a console dedicated to AV hookups and outlets. A binder with hotel information was available and a built-in magazine rack was located at the base of the desk.
Across from the desk and dresser was the bed, a queen size with six pillows. The wall next to the bed was lined with, again, more NYC inspired art work. The bed itself was pretty comfortable, a nice mix of firmness and softness. It was probably the best thing in the room from a comfort standpoint.
Next to the bed and right by the window was a chaise lounger which I used a little bit that evening while working on my computer. The chair itself was moderately comfortable and I used the detached lower half to hold my computer. It was more comfortable than the desk chair but still not an ideal place to work.
Below the window on a little counter was the coffee/tea kettle with a fairly limited selection of coffee and tea. There was also two bottles of Fiji water available if you were willing to part with $5 and $7 respectively. They remained unused.
While I was relatively unimpressed with the hotel over all, the room did have one thing going for it - a great view out toward Ellis Island. It faced west so sunsets are likely lovely if you catch it at the right time.
As this was essentially a very quick in-and-out stop for me, that's the extent of my stay. I didn't so much other than check in, sleep, and check out. The room served its purpose and I got a comfortable night of sleep before walking down the street to the WTC memorial site the next day and then catching a cab back to JFK for my flight back to Chicago.
With NYC being such a tough market, it's a little difficult for me to give an overall opinion on the property. In another city I would say this hotel was a definite dud with its outdated lobby, long elevator wait times, and oddly painted room. But for NY, maybe it's not so bad, especially for its location and price point. I think there are definitely better deals to be had around town (and I've had them) but if you need to be in this area of NYC, the price is generally not that bad and tends to hover around $180 or slightly higher on many dates. The area isn't lacking for hotels but those tend to be much more expensive (and consequently are nicer looking properties). If money is not a limiting factor for you, run from this place. But if you're like me and most other Americans, the trade off can be worthwhile.
If I absolutely needed to be in this area and the price was lower than its competitors nearby, I'd book here again. Outside of that scenario though, I'm willing to bet you can get a much better property for similar price elsewhere on Manhattan. It served its purpose with me but I doubt I'll be setting foot back in this hotel.