Hotel Review: W New York – Downtown

In the past few years I’ve been to New York City quite a few times; by my count I believe I am up to 8 or 9 times (all for leisure) and which doesn’t factor in layovers at JFK on other trips. It also means that I have explored a pretty good bit of Manhattan (although there really does remain so many areas I have not ventured to), which is also where I have stayed 90% of the time (One stay in Jersey City is one time too many). Of those I have always stayed in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, with the original W New York on Lexington Ave. being my most frequented hotel, but I’ve stayed at many other Starwood properties in the area as well. One thing that I have never done however, is stay in the Financial District.

It’s not exactly a hot spot on the weekends with all the suits gone over the weekends, but I figured that I would try it out. If anything it would at least be something different. I had pretty much two options in my head for where to stay: the Conrad New York or the W New York – Downtown. The Conrad would have been nice to try since I have Hilton HHonors Diamond Status and I probably could have scored a decent suite, but that’s not what I went for. I opted to go with the W New York – Downtown instead, and I have to admit I was pretty much motivated by the fact that there was a “buy two nights, get the third free” promotional rate which brought the average nightly rate down to a pretty cheap $176/night; the Conrad would have cost me nearly $800 for the weekend, so that made it pretty much a no brainer.

Once I got my confirmation in hand, I noticed that there was an offer for a paid upgrade to the Spectacular ($10/night), Cool Corner ($25/night), or Ultra Cool Corner Rooms ($40/night). I’ve used these in the past at hotels that get mixed reviews in terms of upgrading SPG Gold members (and have had several process the upgrade for free in advance through this route), and I thought hard about it on this trip since I had an extremely late arrival. But ultimately, since I wasn’t going to be spending that much time in the room I decided to wait it out and see what type of an upgrade I would get as an SPG Gold member.

W New York – Downtown

I landed at LaGuardia fairly late that night having opted to take a pretty late departure from Panama City. That meant that by the time I landed in NYC and hopped in a cab for the ride downtown, it was already past midnight when I walked in.

The lobby for this hotel is not on the first floor; there is the ground floor of the in-hotel restaurant BLT Bar & Grill as well as elevators to take you to the lobby on the fifth floor. The agent on duty had got me checked in pretty quickly and had informed me that due to them being sold out of my room type, I had been upgraded to a Ultra Cool Corner Room. That’s about as good of an upgrade as you can expect from this property from what I’ve read online. Now, I doubt that they were truly sold out of Wonderful Kings or one of the other room types with king beds, but I wasn’t exactly going to ask any questions either.

The Living Room Bar had a few people in it drinking it up, but it wasn’t that busy. I made my way to the elevators anyways, for it was time for bed for me. I needed to be up early the next day to head to the New York UCF Alumni watch party for the UCF vs Penn State game.

The Room
I was given room 1510, which is one of the corner rooms on the property. I’m not sure what the difference between a Cool Corner Room and an Ultra Cool Corner Room is, so I won’t be able to touch on that. The room itself was sufficiently large, especially by NYC standards. All the standard amenities were present; the W Bed, desk area, TV, etc, etc. My only complaint here is that the TV seemed ridiculously high up on the wall, which made it a little awkward when lying in bed. Perfect height if you want to stand and watch though…

Ultra Cool Corner Room

The Always Super Comfy W Bed

Desk + TV

The one thing that was nice with this corner room though was that along the windows was bench seating. I found myself one afternoon taking a break from running around the city all day while it rained sitting here reading a book.

The Corner

As for the bathroom, it was pretty standard for a W Hotel. One thing that I’ve found typically annoying with hotel bathrooms in small rooms in NYC, is that they never give you any counter space around the sink. Sometimes you get a little tiny shelf to put your toiletries on, but usually there isn’t much room. While this hotel didn’t have a full counter around the sink, there was enough room around the sink to actually spread out a little bit…if that is important to you.


A Decently Large Enough Shower

Food and Drink
There are two outlets on property: there is the BLT Bar & Grill located on the first and second floors and there is the Living Room Bar and Terrace on the 5th floor off the hotel lobby. I went to both, but only ever ordered drinks. I had planned on trying out BLT during my stay, but for whatever reason I never did wind up going that route.

BLT Bar & Grill
I visited here during happy hour on a Sunday, which resulted in $5 draft beers. Guess that they have to try to lure in the customers on the slower weekend days in this area that is so very predominantly business-oriented. The space was nice, and it wasn’t loud, but that’s probably because they were not that super busy either. The selection of drinks was not impressively large, but there was a small decent selection of beers available. I had picked one that they bartender had described to me as a mix between an IPA and a wheat beer; I’ll be if I can’t even remember what brewery it was from, but clearly that man was not a beer drinker. I think he may have said that just because it wasn’t filtered…

Living Room Bar and Terrace
Every W has a “Living Room” bar; it’s the standard hotel lobby bar done the W way. I usually find myself at these at least one night during my stay, usually as a kick off to the night or the return “home” from a night out in whatever city I am in. On this trip, it was a little different. I wasn’t drinking during the night, but found myself out on the patio during the day.

Living Room Lounge (Terrible Picture…)

After spending many hours walking around the city, I had retreated to the hotel early afternoon. I needed to recharge my phone and then eventually clean up for later that night (which also had me buying tickets to a Mets game), so I figured that reading a book on the terrace would be a good idea.

Since it wasn’t exactly a busy time of the day for them there was one server and one bartender. I made my order for a mojito, and returned to the chair I had grabbed outside. I figured that it would take a little bit for my drink to make it’s way to me despite it being a slow period, but by the time my drink had made it to me, I had not thought it had been ridiculously long. Perhaps it was because I was in relax mode, but the server thought that my wait had been too long and informed me that my drink was on the house due to the delay. Turns out they had a hard time locating the mint leaves…

Since I figured I might as well pay for at least one drink, I opted for a beer to follow as I continued to sit there and make good headway into the book. The one thing that was a little comical to me was that there was a European couple who sat across from me and they were taking all sorts of pictures with them posing with a bottle of Budweiser.

As for the Terrace, it sits on the side of the hotel facing the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial. It’s high enough up that you see the trees at the memorial (but not really into the memorial) and a great view of the Port Authority Police temporary building. There’s a variety of chairs and seating areas outside so if you are in a group you have options and if you are flying solo like me, you can still enjoy the space. The interior is filled with lounge seating in addition the stools at the bar. Most mornings you see people hanging out in that space for the free wifi more than anything. Also in the mornings, this is where they have a coffee station set up, which really was not that bad of coffee. Certainly better than a nasty in-room brewer.

Overall, this hotel definitely delivered a great room, at a great price with great service. I wish I could through great location in there as well, but unless you need to be in the Financial District, this hotel is definitely out of the way from where most people are going to want to be in Midtown. I’m told it can be tough to get a cab from the hotel at night, but I never tried it; honestly the subway works well enough and there is the Rector Street Station (1) just around the corner. It’s approximately 15 minutes or so to Greenwich Village and about 30 minutes to the the middle of tourist action in Midtown.

As for SPG elite status recognition, I was recognized as being a Gold member, given my choice of welcome benefit (points or internet, and no option of a complimentary drink), and obviously upgraded a few categories up. I can’t complain too much there.

So how does this hotel stack up against my usual choice in New York, the W New York on Lexington Avenue? Well, honestly aside from location, I like this property more. I’m sure part of it is the fact that it is newer (2010 vs 1998) or that the common areas have a more striking design. I mean the W New York’s lobby isn’t very unique (it feels like it is any other hotel lobby), but the W New York – Downtown’s lobby has unique touches and finishes that make it stand out from other hotel lobbies. I should have taken a picture, but you can look on the W New York – Downtown’s website and see what I am talking about.

I think the usual big question at this point is: would I stay here again? The answer is complex; but in short, I would definitely stay here again. I doubt that given my line of work that I will ever find myself needing to be in the financial district, so that will never be the driving factor for me. And I do definitely prefer being in midtown so I can walk to more places instead of spending all weekend feeding my MetroCard. Basically, if some of my other preferred hotels in Midtown were not available or priced much higher, I would have no problem staying here. And that probably really goes for any hotel in the Financial District: the the price is right, then why not?

That being said, next time I really need to try to make it to the W New York – Union Square; that property has been eluding me for a while and I would rather like to check it out.

Next Time…

If you’d like to see some photos that I took as I spent some time walking around the city with my camera, I’ve put up a small selection on flickr.

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