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Why I did a staycation in Times Square during the pandemic

Feb. 17, 2021
7 min read
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Yes, I needed the World of Hyatt nights for my Globalist mattress run. But I also needed a break.

I’ve spent most of the pandemic in my tiny New York City apartment, which I also share with a loveable -- but noisy -- pug. My neighborhood is also a bustling hub of shops and restaurants and can be pretty noisy at times.

I was also starting to go a bit stir-crazy working from my living room. So I decided to change up my scenery for a weekend to rest and get some quiet time. Here’s why I decided to do a staycation in the most unexpected place: Times Square.

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Staycation at the Hyatt Place Times Square

Photo by Victoria M. Walker / The Points Guy

When I exited the A train at Port Authority Bus Terminal, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The last time I’d spent any meaningful amount of time in Times Square was before the pandemic.

Most people have never considered Times Square, of all places, to be the perfect place to work and relax -- but it's why I wanted to stay there.

The Hyatt Place in Times Square is in what was once one of the loudest, busiest places on Earth to visit or stay. The Times Square neighborhood is now, essentially, a ghost town. The tourists have all but disappeared. The lights are dimmer. Car horns are more infrequent. There are even fewer costumed characters. I spent a weekend in late January at the hotel, which also happened to coincide with a ton of work I needed to catch up on, so I was looking for a low-key place to be productive.

Because of the pandemic, you have to buzz into the lobby instead of simply walking in. There were a few other guests in the lobby, but the hotel felt pretty empty during my stay, which was perfect. Check-in was a breeze, with the friendly receptionist acknowledging my World of Hyatt Explorist status as she explained what the hotel was doing to keep guests safe during the pandemic.

Photo by Victoria M. Walker / The Points Guy

There were social distancing signs placed around the elevator lobby and hand sanitizer was plentiful. Everyone wore their masks correctly and the hotel felt very comfortable and safe. After receiving my (sanitized) room key, I headed up to check out my room. A day before check-in, I requested to be placed on a high floor, but it turned out to be unnecessary. There was barely any traffic, after all.

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Related: The hotel changes we hope stick around in 2021 and beyond

My room was tucked away in the corner, and stepping off the elevator, I was greeted with the scent of lemon cleaning products, which was reassuring. My room was small but comfortable. The bed was plush, but I was really excited about the sofa and desk. I’ve been doing work from bed for months now, so having a desk was a huge plus. I easily connected to Wi-Fi, and it was fast enough to make FaceTime calls, stream music on Spotify and crank out stories throughout the weekend.

On my second morning, I headed downstairs to search for food. Breakfast was a grab-and-go style and was pretty simple. If you’re expecting pancakes, you’ll be disappointed, but I’m a big kid at heart, so cereal and a muffin were perfectly fine with me. The coffee was hot and strong and proved to be really popular with other guests.

Photo by Victoria M. Walker / The Points Guy

I can’t emphasize enough how quiet the hotel and surrounding area were. Bereft of the noise and people, I found Times Square to be rather -- dare I say it -- peaceful.

Travel is still on the back burner for me until I’m vaccinated, but I wanted to take advantage of this staycation while Times Square is still all but empty. And of course -- the hotel was a cheap way to earn Globalist status for two years as the room was just $67 per night before taxes and fees, which I booked using the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Related: 6 strategies you can leverage to snag Hyatt Globalist status in 2021

Why I’m sticking with Hyatt in 2021

Photo by Victoria M. Walker / The Points Guy

I went into 2020 as a Marriott Bonvoy loyalist, with occasional stays at Hilton Honors chains.

You might have read my story in December about how my brother’s long-term hotel stay earned him top-tier Marriott elite status. After nearly 100 nights in 2020, he’s now all-in on the Marriott Bonvoy brand, enjoying complimentary upgrades, welcome gifts and more. I have Gold status with Marriott and Hilton through credit cards, but I haven’t gotten much value from holding either status, save for free breakfast at Hilton and late checkout at Marriott.

After deciding to commit to the Hyatt brand, I switched all of my stays to the chain. Even without top-tier status, I was able to extract a ton of value versus what I’d get at lower tiers with other chains.

Like several other chains, Hyatt announced it would reduce elite status requirements by 50% for the 2021 qualification year. This makes it much easier to earn, as status earned in 2021 is valid all the way through Feb. 28, 2023.

Just as a reminder, here’s how the 2021 tier requirements break down:

  • Discoverist: Stay five tier-qualifying nights or earn 12,500 base points ($2,500 in spending)
  • Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights or earn 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending)
  • Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending)

Bottom line

We’re over a month into the new year, and I’m already over halfway through my mattress run and should hit Globalist by April. I earned more than 2,000 points just from this stay alone and four qualifying nights toward top-tier status. But most importantly, I got a much-needed few days of peace and quiet.

All photos by the author

Featured image by Photo by Victoria M. Walker / The Points Guy
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023