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The Big Apple is on many families’ lists of dream destinations, and while the fancier hotels get much of the attention, there are family-friendly deals hidden here and there. Luckily, you can find several solid Marriott/SPG hotel options in New York City if you have a Marriott up to 35k award night at your disposal from cards including:
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
- Marriott Rewards Business Premier Plus Credit Card
Here’s more on how to obtain and use that award. If anything, the trouble at Category 5 Marriott properties is digging through the plethora of midrange options that look pretty similar on paper. I’ve sorted through the list for you to help separate the wheat from the chaff.
Things to Consider Before Booking a NYC 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 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 because 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. The higher the category, the more likely the hotel charges a destination fee. In fact, the St. Regis New York (which is at the top of the award chart) tacks on a $50 destination fee per day.
Small Rooms Are the Norm
New York City hotel rooms are small, even at many of the luxury hotels. At a Category 5 property, you’ll be lucky to find rooms larger than 250 square feet. Most Category 5 hotels in Manhattan that sleep four people offer two double beds as opposed to two queen beds.
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 sometimes 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 personally 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
With more than 30 Category 5 Marriott Rewards properties in Manhattan, the options are much greater than for Marriott Category 4 hotels in NYC. You’ll want to pick the location that best appeals to you and your family. If you don’t yet know which NYC attractions to put on your to-do list, read up on these affordable and family-friendly activities.
Here’s where I admit my bias: I’m not a huge fan of the atmosphere in the area between Penn Station (West 34th Street) and Times Square South (West 42nd Street). Many midrange properties are in this area but rank lower on my list. There’s nothing wrong with this neighborhood safety-wise, I just don’t feel it represents the best of what New York City has to offer.
If you want to stay in the Theater District or near Times Square, I suggest north of West 42nd Street. If you want Times Square proper, it’s between 42nd and 47th, but I’m a bigger fan of staying in the West 50s. You’re still close enough to Midtown attractions, but are also within range of Central Park and Columbus Circle. I should note that this neighborhood is called “Hell’s Kitchen,” but don’t let the name scare you. It’s perfectly family-friendly.
When you think “West” or “East” in New York City, the starting point is Fifth Avenue. Most of what you want to see is likely on the West Side. There’s nothing wrong with staying on the East Side, just keep in mind that while walks between numbered street blocks are short, walks between avenues are longer.
Alternatively, you could go for more of a neighborhood vibe in Chelsea, SoHo or Tribeca. This is where Mommy Points’ often prefers to stay. You’ll have to take the subway to get to most attractions, but you’ll have a more classic New York experience.
I see a lot of this when I search Marriott.com for New York properties rated for four people:
With that in mind, I’m only recommending properties that show a reasonable amount of bookable dates open in the next six months.
The Best NYC Category 5 Marriott Hotels for Families
In no particular order, here are my top Category 5 Marriott properties for families in NYC:
I love, love, love the location of these two hotels, which share a building at 54th and Broadway. You’re right next to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Radio City Music Hall, but also just five blocks from Central Park. Of the two, I strongly prefer the Residence Inn, but the Courtyard is more likely to have rooms available for four people on points.
The Residence Inn holds the title of “highest hotel in the Western Hemisphere” so you’re pretty much guaranteed a great view. It also offers free breakfast and rooms have a (very) compact kitchenette.
At 57th Street between 10th and 11th avenues, the Fairfield feels more like an apartment setting than a brand-new hotel. It’s only two blocks from Columbus Square subway station and Central Park. Free breakfast is another nice perk.
At West 53rd Street and 7th Avenue, the Sheraton is in a sweet spot location between Times Square and Central Park. The Sheraton may be the first choice for Platinum elites as this hotel does have a lounge. The hotel is showing its age a bit, but is still a solid option. The annoying $25 “destination fee” at least includes a $35 (overpriced) restaurant credit.
This Residence Inn at Lexington and 48th Street is a winner due to its room size of 300 square feet and for the rooms for four offer queen-sized beds. Residence Inns also offer free breakfast and a (very basic) in-room kitchenette, which can save on meals.
I like this location near Washington Square Park and NYU for a less touristy vibe than Midtown. Rooms are 300 square feet and feature two queen beds. You’ll need to take the subway to most attractions but, to me, that just adds to the local experience.
The Four Points in Soho is another option, but of the two I’d choose the Courtyard as it gets much better reviews.
The Marriott Vacation Club property in New York City would be a winner but for one glaring flaw: Award availability is completely blocked out for months at a time. However, if you can get a room on points, the 300-square-foot room size makes it a contender.
I’d love to hear if your family has a favorite Category 5 Marriott or Starwood hotel in New York City. If so, please share your experiences.
And, if you don’t have a Marriott free night certificate at your disposal, here are some other options for other family-friendly points hotels in NYC. Finally, if you aren’t already a Marriott Rewards member, you can earn a free night at almost any Marriott (including SPG and Ritz-Carlton) property after two paid stays by Jan. 28, 2019.
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