For my trip to New York for the NY Times Travel Show, I had a reservation elsewhere but when the Starwood email landed in my inbox with the upcoming deals in New York City, I was tempted. The Westin New York Grand Central was $50 cheaper, offered more space and my stay would qualify for the current bonus point promotion so I quickly booked my two night stay and canceled the other reservation. The average rate for the two night stay (Thursday and Friday) was $162.64 + tax, which, this being New York City, was a pretty good. With both my Starwood AMEX and Gold Status, I would earn 4x points + the promotion bonus.
The hotel is located on 42nd Street, near 2nd Avenue about two blocks from Grand Central Station. This confused me at first walking from Penn Station (31st and 8th) as I arrived at Grand Central and there is another hotel there. Thankfully, I found someone to point me further down the street toward the hotel as it is not attached to or next to Grand Central. Since I love to walk, I rarely use a cab in NYC so from Penn Station it was about 25 minute walk (but I walk fast). The numbered streets are a piece of cake, it’s the avenues that I always forget about. If you don’t like to walk, catch a cab, it’s about $11 with tip (no traffic).
Walking along 42nd Street, you will pass my favorite cupcakes at Baked by Melissa, Grand Central Station (there is a good food court in the lower level with a Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery), the Library, Bryant Park, the edges of Times Square pedestrian zone (lots of costumed characters) and if you are daring (like I was in the winter 30F weather) you can walk to 11th Avenue and turn to the Javits Center (the front desk agent looked at me as if I was crazy to attempt the 1.5 mile walk).
The Westin New York Lobby Check In
The lobby was surprisingly compact which I didn’t expect for the large hotel. There are three front desk check in areas in front (elevators behind them) with the concierge desk and lobby store on the left and the restaurant/bar on the right. When I arrived there were three people checking in so I had to wait. When the line grew behind me, another agent came up to the desk to help with check-in.
The agent was all smiles and super happy as she welcomed me as a Gold member of SPG, asked what amenity I wanted (always wi-fi) and said she was able to upgrade me from a Traditional Room to a Deluxe Room on the 31st floor. At 330 square feet, from the website, not sure what the difference in room type was other than being higher up.
My King Room at the Westin New York Grand Central
It was a nice sized room for New York especially given my super small room last year in the city. With the standard Westin Heavenly Bed (which I love), the room colors were cream, brown, silver and white. The seating area in a silver material (hard to tell in photos with light) had a couch, chair and ottoman and a view! Not quite the Chrysler building view but I’m always happy when I don’t have the no-view room.
The desk had outlets as did the lamp next to the bed to charge electronics. The mini-bar has a nice selection, including my complimentary bottle of water for SPG preferred guests), and there is a coffee maker next to the flat screen tv. The work desk was a good size and the chair quite comfortable if you need to work. The in-room wi-fi was strong without issue during my stay.
The Westin toiletries White Tea with the iconic green leaf soap are always nice. The shower was all heavenly with the rain shower as well as handheld option. With lots of counter space, the bathroom is a good size. A bathrobe was hanging on the door.
The Restaurant at the Westin New York
The LCL Bar & Kitchen is on the right side of lobby and was nicely designed with a variety of seating options – banquette, hi-top communal table good for groups, bar seating, low lounge seats. Standing in front of the hostess at breakfast, it took her a minute to look up from her phone to greet me. She first took me to the very crowded area of the restaurant and I asked to move to the empty section (which would fill up quickly). Service was friendly and my bacon and eggs were perfect. I was still not cognizant though as I said “orange juice” before looking at the menu to see that it was $7!!! I know better but I told myself it was fresh pressed and I would drink it all because it was $7.
When the Travel Show ended a bit late and I was exhausted, I decided to go to the hotel restaurant. This time the hostess wasn’t looking at her phone but wow what a contrast and a bit out-of-place she was. She had to be a model and she was wearing a red dress that would also look good on J Lo which means it was cut down to her naval and she was using strategic tape.
While I know it is NYC, after a long conference day, the hotel restaurant was an oasis. The hotel uses fresh ingredients from its rooftop garden and other local farm to table foods and preparation. I was in the mood for a burger, a tasty La Freida beef burger. The wine list was tough though as they had so many good selections – the red flight was tempting but I ordered a glass of Malbec (a French Malbec that was very smooth). Just like breakfast, service was pleasant, the food was tasty and the room was a good mix of folks – not empty but not too full.
The Concierge Disappointment
When the hotel sent a pre-arrival email, I clicked on the concierge link only to be taken to the main page without contact info. So I decided to click on the general manager’s email (she said contact her if I needed anything) and ask her to forward my email to the concierge (I was being lazy and relying on tech rather than calling). The concierge sent me a standard names, cuisine type, price range only restaurant list along with the names of bakeries and delis I requested. I emailed her a “thanks” and asked her to tell me what restaurant on the list she eats at and she replied dodging my question which I found odd. I left it at that and didn’t bother the concierge on site during my stay.
Final Thoughts – The Westin New York at Grand Central
It’s a Westin and with the Heavenly Bed and Bath, I know what I’m getting and it usually makes me happy. The level of comfort and uniformity makes for an easy stay. That said, I did have a room issue that I brought to the attention of the front desk and they apologized, remedied the problem and adjusted my account (breakfast and points) without me asking. The service was a highlight here save the concierge experience. The Westin New York at Grand Central has 774 rooms and a good amount of conference/meeting space and yet the hotel never felt crowded. There are often special offers and deals for this hotel so do keep that in mind when searching for a hotel in NYC.