Hotel Review: Element Times Square

by on September 17, 2012 · 10 comments

in Hotel Reviews, Starwood

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Last week I had to book a last-minute trip to New York City, which was right in the middle Fashion Week so I knew hotels were going to be expensive…if available at all. The cheapest SPG option I could find was the Element Times Square which was a whopping $507 per night with all taxes included, which I wasn’t about to pay for a non-luxury hotel. Since the Element Times Square is only a  Category 5 (most NYC properties are now Category 6 or 7), it was only 12,000 points per night and there was a standard room available for the two nights I needed, so 24,000 points later I saved myself $1,014 – or 4.2 cents per point. This is the reason why I love my Starpoints!

Starwood recently made the change to count award stays now count toward elite status and this stay actually put me over 75 nights with Starwood this year, so I can now take advantage of the 4 Starpoints per dollar earning ratio and the Your24 check-in benefit where you can check in anytime during the day and have the room for 24 hours, which is great when arriving late in the evening. For anyone wondering how I got to 75 nights, a big portion of it was the 10 free elite nights that I got for having the Starwood American Express Personal and Business credit cards. Each awards cardholders 2 stays/5 nights towards elite status qualification.

Exterior of the Element Times Square.

This 40-story hotel has 411 rooms which include studios and one-bedroom suites. The hotel is located on 39th street between 8th and 9th ave, so  close to Times Square, which makes it a convenient location to the subways, however by no means a high-end location.

My Studio Room at Element Times Square.

My studio included a Westin Heavenly Bed, a 32-inch plasma TV and large kitchenette area with a refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher with all the dinnerware to go along. Since Starwood touts this as an eco-friendly property, the shampoo/conditioner/shower gel were in wall dispensers, which I don’t mind at all. A unique aspect of this hotel is that they only offer king-sized beds. They claim that this is due to space limitations so if you are in need of two beds a rollaway bed or sofa bed, you are out of luck.

Bathroom, clean and modern with rain shower.

Overall, I was comfortable in my room and was mostly satisfied that I was able to save so much cash by using points. The main downsides of my stay were pretty minor: the elevators were small and slow at times and my showerhead was broken and had to be fixed, though maintenance took care of it very quickly.

The hotel provides free breakfast to all guests so I chose 250 SPG Points as my  Platinum amenity. (I had totally forgotten that Element properties only give 250 points amenities, in addition to Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton Hotels).

This was my first stay at an Element property, and while I would consider for the future if I needed a place to crash for the night or two, I would like to see SPG to rethink the SPG Platinum member upgrade policy for Element hotels. I think Platinum members should be eligible for suite upgrades since this hotel does have many one-bedroom suite options available. However, I did think several other signature Element amenities were nice, like complimentary WiFi and a continental breakfast for all guests, and free beer, wine, and hor d’oeuvres in the evening Monday-Thursday, so I definitely think I got a lot of bang for my point, especially in an expensive hotel city like New York City during a very busy week.

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  • JP Cross

    Interesting, I was out there all week as well and was trying to decide which SPG option to use. I ended up doing W Union Square on Sunday night for $150+8k and Monday for 25k points (no cash + points available that night). 25k was only “average” value but the room rate was around $600 Monday night. One advantage of using different rate plans on back to back nights was that I got two stays instead of one. This put me at 52 YTD.

    Would be curious to hear what the “best” NYC SPG property is for a younger person? I find times square to be too much of a cluster-# personally. If you don’t need anything fancy, I have enjoyed my stays at the Four Points Chelsea, primarily because of its location. They usually give me a room on the top floor with windows that open and its small enough that its easy to navigate. Pretty good value on points as well although in February I think I only paid $150 or so.

  • Jon

    Another good option when prices are sky high in NYC is the Staybridge Suites Time Square. You can redeem 25,000 PC points for a night here, or 15,000 points + $70. Assuming you pay $35 per each set of $5k points, that means you can get any available night at this hotel for $175 all-in. I actually stayed at this hotel when you could redeem 20k points for a night, and points could be purchased at a rate of $30 for 5k points (total of only $120 for a night). The staff there was wonderful. Super tiny lobby. But they have a decent hotel bar, and free hot breakfast and wifi. The kicker for me was the woman across the alley that seemed happy to lounge around topless in full view :)

  • Hollie

    Aww – we renewed platinum the same week. I stayed at this hotel for work when I needed a room the week of the NY Marathon, and I was beyond disappointed. There were multiple issues (including the hot water being out on all of the upper floors 2/3 of the time), but the disappointing fact was that the staff was ill prepared to deal with appropriate service levels to update/accommodate guests. I also found the happy hour/breakfast to resemble a cattle heard. Clearly their target market is tourists looking for a deal, not your average business traveler.

  • mikefl

    I love this hotel. Its right around the corner from the hotel that TPG stayed at. I stayed 4 nights there last year. Its the best!

  • KevininRI

    It’s a bit hit or miss at this hotel. I’ve stayed there several times and had a few decent stays but also a few not so good ones. Biggest gripes… slow elevators/no service elevators (so the housekeeping staff use the same elevators as guests); if you’re leaving during a weekday morning be prepared to leave a good 15 minutes or more to get down from one of the upper floors; also for Golds/Platinums, they will give you your 4pm checkout but they neglect to tell you that your keys will stop working at around 2:30pm. Found that out the hard way when returning from a late lunch at around 2:45pm one day. But they won’t just recode the keys at the front desk so you can get back into your room. They have to send someone from security up to your room to let you back in after your keys expire.

  • randy

    The elevators are a major issue here. I would not stay here again.

  • Chris

    Aloft seems cooler and hipper. What’s going on with all of these SPG brands? It’s getting out of hand.

  • Annalise Kaylor

    I felt the same way about this hotel. I covered four seasons of New York Fashion Week and I chose to stay here for three of those seasons. SPG hotels were the preferred vendor for my work, and having to go all over town meant it was convenient to most locations. I’d often stay here for 10 nights minimum. The suites are definitely nicer than the studios. The elevators were always a problem, so I always requested a low-level floor to make sure I could easily take the stairs.

    I do like the hot breakfast and the happy hour. When you sometimes only have 45 minutes to find something to eat, it’s not amazing, but it will do. There is a Whole Foods less than a mile away, too, and because the rooms all have kitchenettes and a full-size fridge, it was easy to stock up on things for long stays.

  • Kevin Hanson

    FYI – the suites there are hardly bigger than the normal rooms. Keep in mind that even a normal room there has a fridge, kitchenette, etc – I LOVE staying at the Element when the rates elsewhere are too high. Heck, if I’m traveling for work, I sometimes prefer it over higher end properties. Having a kitchen is nice, and the shower at the Element is great!

  • Jon

    What’s wrong with more SPG brands? They are trying to stay relevant with the younger crowd, and compete on price/services with the Courtyards, Hyatt Places, Residence Inns, Hilton Garden Inns, Hampton Inns, etc. Given a choice between Element/Aloft brands, I’d pick them over the competition.

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