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TPG Managing Editor Eric Rosen recently stayed at the W Downtown New York City over the weekend I was appearing at the New York Times Travel Show. Here’s his review of the experience.
A couple weeks before the New York Times Travel Show when TPG and I decided I should come to the Big Apple for his presentations, we were sitting together and looking at hotel options. He fired up the SPG app on his iPhone and we almost couldn’t believe the low nightly rates that were coming up. I’ve stayed at a few of the Starwood properties in the city before, but he noticed that there were rooms at the W Downtown for just $182 per night.
My three-night stay would only cost $545 or so – not bad for three nights in New York over a busy weekend. TPG booked it under his account, so no Starpoints for me, but I had his 75-night Platinum benefits like free internet and a better shot at an upgrade, so that was fine by me.
I arrived at the property at about 6:00pm on a Friday evening. The hotel is in a tower across from 9/11 Memorial and the new Freedom Tower, so there were lots of people around, though because the area is so far downtown and in the financial district, it started to get really quiet at around 7pm or so.
I actually went in the wrong entrance by accident, to the W Residences, but walked back out and over to the other door, which is the entrance to the elevator foyer, and took the lift up to the fifth floor where the hotel’s reception area is located.
I thought the design was pretty interesting with an undulating roof illuminated by LED’s – it gave the whole space this kind of dizzying futuristic effect that was really cool. The front desk staff was efficient and friendly enough. I asked about an upgrade and was told I’d been given a Cool Corner Room instead of the Wonderful Room we’d booked.
I hopped into the other bank of elevators up to the 19th floor and walked down the hallway to my room. I have to say, as far as hallways go, this one was pretty brown and depressing…and loud – every time a door opened or closed it echoed up and down the whole corridor.
Although I generally am delighted to find I’ve been given a room at the end of the hallway since it is usually quieter and on a corner of the building, this time wasn’t so great because I was next to the ice machine.
I thought about calling down to see if I could change rooms, but I was in a hurry and figured no one really goes out to get ice that often, so I just stuck with it. The Cool Corner Room I got was about 350 square feet by my estimation – so just a bit larger than a standard Wonderful Room, and it had windows on two sides with manual shades and black-out blinds. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have a view of the Freedom Tower, but that would have required a Spectacular Room or Wow Suite, I believe.
It wasn’t spacious by any means, but for New York, it was decent, with a small entrance hallway with a closet on one side next to the door to the bathroom. The bathroom had a single sink (with Bliss products, of course) and a walk-in shower.
The main room itself held the king-size W Signature bed with white Egyptian cotton linens and a goose-down comforter, and a red throw and a cool bedside reading lamp. The windows were trimmed with a white leather loveseat on both walls, which was nice for just relaxing and enjoying the view – and made a good place to put the breakfast tray in the morning. The blinds were a pain to crank up and down each day, but they did black out the light nicely.
I especially liked the reflective white surface behind the headboard and the lighting feature, which was contemporary and cool but not precious. On the wall nearest the door was the small work desk with a wired internet connection if you wanted it, and the Munchie Box minibar with chips, nuts, candy, etc.
I was starving so I had some Pop Chips and a Diet Coke from the fridge.
On the wall opposite the bed was a wall-mounted 37-inch LCD TV with a DVD player.
So the room was serviceable if not spacious. Though I generally like a clean, contemporary design, here it felt a bit sterile thanks to the mostly unrelieved black-and-white palette and the small dimensions of the room.
I have to say that I wasn’t bothered by being next to the ice machine, thankfully, but anytime my neighbors came or went from their rooms, there was cacophony of doors opening and slamming loudly in the halls.
Other than the rooms, the hotel’s amenities include a small bar area in the lobby as well as a little FIT gym with some standard cardio machines and weights. Downstairs at the ground level is the hotel’s associated restaurant, BLT Bar & Grill. I had time to grab a quick dinner there and rather than some of the Americana-inspired bistro dishes, I dug into a hearty pastrami sandwich on rye with fries that was pretty delicious.
I didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the hotel, but what I did see was pleasant enough. I wish the rooms had a bit more space and color to them, but maybe that was just my SAD having come from summer in Australia to winter in New York City. I do think the dimensions were a bit cramped, though, and next time I’ll know to ask for a Spectacular Room for views of the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower instead of just some bland financial district buildings.
The staff was also diligent and polite, but not overly friendly, and the entire hotel sort of had a detached kind of feel that was only heightened by how quiet the area was at night. Still, if you are coming to New York for business and going to be spending most of your time downtown, it’s a decent choice – especially for under $200 a night.
Have any of you stayed here? In your opinion, how did it compare to the other W’s in the city?
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