Nothing ‘Grand’ about it; What it’s like to stay at a hotel that’s set for demolition
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The no-longer-grand Hyatt is set to be demolished. You can tell.
You may remember this monster Midtown property formally known as the Grand Hyatt New York. It’s right next door to Grand Central Station — a 1980s icon brought to life by a then-young Donald Trump in his first major Manhattan real estate deal.
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The glass facade by architects Gruzen Samton and Der Scutt became a city hot spot. Over the years, the first Hyatt property in New York has seen many highs, but in 2019 it was announced the massive hotel would be torn down to make way for a brand-new mixed-use development, including a new skyscraper and a brand-new Grand Hyatt at 175 Park Avenue. The 83-story tall hotel complex would also make massive improvements to access to Grand Central Station.
In fact, the hotel was shuttered early in the pandemic, and the plan was to keep it closed until demolition time.
Enter the city of New York.
New York City passed a law that ordered any hotel that shut down during the pandemic and laid off more than 75% of their workers to either reopen and rehire those workers or pay $500 a week to those employees for at least six months.
The property decided it was cheaper to reopen than to pay out all that severance. Unfortunately, that also means it rebranded as a more generic Hyatt. Of course, TPG had to find out what exactly that entailed from a guest point of view. A work trip to Manhattan a week after it reopened was the perfect opportunity to see what it’s like staying in a hotel not long for this earth.
It went about as well as you’d expect. There is, indeed, nothing “grand” about this hotel anymore.
Related: A review of the Park Hyatt New York
To be fair, the hotel just reopened and so we are not doing a full review, but the hotel should probably have waited to start taking reservations until the property was fully ready.
I booked this property via my company’s travel website for a base rate of just $215 a night, which is pretty good by New York standards. Don’t forget the $35.21 in taxes and fees per night courtesy of the city and state of New York. There’s also a destination fee of $25 plus taxes per night. Fortunately, as a World of Hyatt Globalist that was taken off the bill (and it’s a good thing it was as you’ll read down below). My total bill came to about $501.
I haven’t gotten points yet for the stay, but I should get about 3,000 World of Hyatt points, which are worth about $51 according to TPG valuations.
The Hyatt is in a great New York City location connecting to the beautiful Grand Central Station. I walked in the grand lobby off the 42nd Street entrance to check-in at 5:32 p.m. and there was a long line. There was no separate line for elites. I ended up waiting about 15 minutes.
A young man behind me in line told me that he’d just checked in, but when he got to the room and used his key card to enter, he found the belongings of a woman inside the room. Uh-oh.
The man who finally checked me in was great. He had literally just been called back to work two days before after a long furlough.
He confirmed to me the hotel reopened only because of that new city law, and said the hotel is supposed to be demolished sometime next year, but he said there is some rumblings that the plans are not firm.
He said only half of the rooms were occupied at the moment — about 700 of the 1,298 rooms.
He also said once the hotel does close for good, the current employees will be offered a severance package, or they can take a partial severance and will be called back to the new hotel once construction is completed.
There is no club at this property, no daily housekeeping, no room service and no real amenities except for the gym. The concierge is also part-time only.
Essentially, it’s no longer a full-service property.
Vibe at the hotel
The Hyatt feels like the half-empty hotel it is right now. Once you leave the lobby, it’s a bit like a ghost hotel with empty hallways and random boxes in spots lining the walls. It definitely felt like I was the only guest on my floor. I didn’t hear or see anyone else on the 20th floor during my stay.
Unfortunately, when I finally got to my room and went to wash my hands, I realized there was no hot water.
I called at 6:02 p.m. and was told by the front desk that they would call maintenance.
When there was still no sign of anyone, I went to the front desk, waited in line again and asked for another room. The same agent offered me a neighboring room with two twin beds, which I accepted. Guess what? Also no hot water.
I decided to cut my losses, head back to my original room and lo and behold maintenance was in the room trying to get the water to warm up. He asked me if I could survive with mostly warm water and I said yes. I told him I understood the hotel was getting back online so it was fine. He said he appreciated it. I also asked him to communicate that I was staying in my original room.
Related: A review of the Hyatt Union Square
I just couldn’t face going back to the front desk and waiting in another long line.
Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t tell the front desk as I’d asked him. A hotel worker knocked on my door that night and told me she thought the room was unoccupied. I told her the backstory and she apologized. Unfortunately, I also got a phone call at 10:30 p.m. from yet another person at the front desk telling me they thought I had switched rooms.
I did have hot-ish water the next morning so that was a big relief. My last morning, however, there wasn’t hot water again. I let the tap run for five minutes and it never warmed up. The shower, too, I turned to its hottest level and gave up after five minutes with only lukewarm water.
I was pleasantly surprised when I came home after work on my second night, and the trash had been emptied and the bed made. I wasn’t expecting any type of housekeeping so that was nice. Indeed, the hotel confirmed there is no daily housekeeping so not quite sure how that happened.
Be aware the rooms are in rough shape. Aside from the issues with the hot water, some of my light switches weren’t fully functional.
The rooms are also really beat up with lots of wear and tear.
Both rooms I saw looked a little worse for wear. Clearly, maintenance is not being kept up.
There was a thick coat of dust and debris on the picture frames in the rooms.
I also found lots of stains and smears from what was probably cleaning products on many of the countertops.
The air conditioner also didn’t work. I set it to 65 degrees, but I don’t think it ever cooled down below 72 degrees.
The beds are very comfortable, though, so there’s that.
I did get to use the gym on the 25th floor, which has several treadmills, a bike and a few other cardio machines plus weights and some weight-lifting equipment.
That’s really it for amenities at the hotel right now, though.
Don’t expect much for your elite status at the Hyatt Grand Central. I got upgraded to a king-size bedroom, but that was about it. The Globalist breakfast benefit is a joke at this hotel.
Food and beverage
The lobby “Market” Restaurant is grab and go only. The only food option offered to me was a reheated egg and “bacon” sandwich that was put in a microwave. It was one of the worst breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had.
As a Hyatt Globalist, you get one coffee, one water and that sandwich. That’s the only option for food or drinks in the hotel.
It also doesn’t open until 6 a.m. On the day of my checkout, they were nice enough to serve me coffee at 5:30 a.m. at least.
On my final morning at checkout, the woman who helped told me she’d take the “destination fee” off the bill. We chatted a bit and she also said they weren’t sure when the demolition of the hotel would actually happen since the plans appear to be changing.
Don’t stay at the Hyatt Grand Central. They are not really ready to welcome guests. It was fun to try out a hotel that is due to be torn down, but if I had spent my hard-earned money and vacation time on a stay here, I would have been really disappointed.
Hot water issues, long lines and beat-up rooms are a deal-breaker for me.
I love Hyatt, and I really look forward to checking out the new Grand Hyatt when it finally reopens on this spot. Until then, I definitely won’t be back to this location.
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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