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Using Marriott points for family-friendly Category 4 hotels in NYC

Feb. 22, 2020
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new award category rates. It was last published on Nov. 13, 2018.

The Big Apple is on many families' lists of dream destinations, and while there are plenty of fancier hotels sitting at the higher end of the hotel award charts in Manhattan, there are also family-friendly deals hidden here and there.

If you have Marriott points, it just got tougher to use them for Category 4 hotels in New York City. That's because the company's Mar. 4 award chart change cut out a handful of hotels that went from Category 4 status to Category 5. So, your choices in this category just got pretty slim. We'll talk about specific hotel options below.

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Manhattan view from the Top of the Rock (Miguel Sanz / Getty Images)
Manhattan view from the Top of the Rock. (Photo by Miguel Sanz / Getty Images)

Things to consider before booking a NYC Marriott stay

Planning a trip to New York City with a family can be a complicated endeavor that depends on what part of town is your focus and what attractions are most important for your family to experience. Here are some things to ponder before booking your trip.

Are you traveling peak or off-peak?

If you are traveling in an off-peak period, you might want to consider saving your certificate as the rates go down to 20,000 points per night. Conversely, you will be out of luck if you want to stay peak-season as the rates rise above the value of the certificate and are currently no category three options in New York City. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what dates are considered peak or off-peak, so you'll have to do your research. Consider also that the dates change monthly. Here are some guidelines to use when considering Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates.

Are you staying five nights?

If you have both certificates and points to burn, you may want to save your certificate and book five nights using points as then the fifth night would be free. If you need more points to get you to the necessary amount, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Marriott Rewards account.

Beware of taxes and fees

The daily hotel tax rate is comprised of several different taxes and totals a whopping 14.75% plus $1.50 each day. Award rates aren't taxed, which could make a big difference between paying cash and using an award. However, there is an increasing (and nasty) trend for some properties to charge "destination fees," which are essentially resort fees by another name. These fees will be charged even on award stays.

Small rooms are the norm

New York City hotel rooms are small, even at many of the luxury hotels. At a Category 4 property, you'll be lucky to find rooms larger than 250 square feet. I give bonus points for two queens over two doubles, but in New York City, they're the exception rather than the rule.

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My family's criteria for booking a NYC hotel

Here are the things that are important to me when booking a stay for my family in the Big Apple.

Rooms that sleep four

My No. 1 criteria for any family trip to NYC is finding rooms that sleep four. Many rooms with two double beds, and even two queen beds, are still only listed for two or three people. I know families that regularly "sneak" their kids into rooms that are not technically rated for four people, but it's not a practice I recommend. The one time you get caught could cost you thousands in last-minute hotel fees or worse: no place to stay. If you've got more than two kids, check out these tips for booking hotel rooms for large families.

Location, location, location

While staying in an outer borough could make for a fun trip, I'm sticking to Manhattan for shorter NYC trips as most of the attractions on my family's wish list are there. Currently, all but one of Marriott's Manhattan Category 4 hotels are in Lower Manhattan, which is a reasonable distance to the World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial (the museum may not be appropriate for small children), South Street Seaport and more. I weigh subway proximity very heavily into my calculations, so if nothing in Lower Manhattan appeals to you, you might want to consider another booking strategy. If you don't yet know which NYC attractions to put on your to-do list, read about these affordable and family-friendly activities.

Exploring the High Line in the warmer months. Photo by Boogich via Getty Images.
Exploring the High Line in the warmer months. (Photo by Boogich/Getty Images)

Real-time availability

I see a lot of this when I search Marriott.com for New York properties rated for four people:

(Screenshot via Marriott.com)

With that in mind, I'm only recommending properties that show a reasonable amount of bookable dates open in the next six months. You'll notice when you see the list that no Starwood properties are included in my rankings. There are a couple listed, but I couldn't find available dates where an award could be redeemed.

I also give a few bonus points for free breakfast, but not too many, as bagels and coffee are cheap and plentiful in NYC.

Marriott's Category 4 NYC hotels

Here are the Category 4 Marriott properties in NYC. (Note that these are properties that are Category 4 according to Marriott's 2020 award chart changes, which go into effect on Mar. 4, 2020.)

AC Hotel New York Downtown

AC is a Spanish limited-service chain recently acquired by Marriott that's slowly expanding into the U.S. They're like a more stylish Courtyard by Marriott. This AC Hotel location, in the Seaport District, is close to the Fulton Street subway stop. While the hotel is brand-new, it would be my last choice of the Manhattan Category 4 properties because rooms only feature double beds.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott.com)

Opening May 2020
Residence Inn New York Downtown Manhattan/Financial District and Courtyard New York Downtown Manhattan Financial District

This pair of hotels will share a location at 215 Pearl Street and are as-of-now listed at Category 4. My experience is that new hotels are often under-categorized for a short period of time after opening, so watch these two. TPG will revisit this story in May once these two properties open.

Bottom line

I'd love to hear if your family has a favorite Category 4 Marriott hotel in New York City. If so, please share your experiences.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more