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When infamous con artist Anna Delvey put the 11 Howard hotel on my (and many other’s) radar, I wanted to check out the Marriott property for myself. The pros: comfortable bed, delicious breakfasts and perfect downtown location. The cons: tired rooms need a coat of paint and tiny gym.
After reading about how fake heiress Anna Delvey swindled New York City’s social elite and the now-Bonvoy property 11 Howard last year, the hotel was on my radar. When it popped up as reasonably priced accommodation for a recent New York City trip, my curiosity got the better of me.
Not only did the hotel look like where all the cool kids stay (and dine and party, apparently), but I couldn’t help but recall the mentions of the hotel where the con artist reportedly slipped staff members $100 bills as tips during her stay of several months until one day when she couldn’t pay her $30,000-plus bill and was evicted from the hotel.
So of course I read the scandal news again, booked the hotel and ended up having a pretty cool stay. Unlike Delvey, though, I paid my bill, which was much less than $30,000.
Since my stay was four nights, I figured it’d be a perfect time to use Citi Prestige Card and its 4th Night Free perk to book. The total rate was $1,473, but after the credit was applied, I paid $1,155, bringing the cost down to $288 per night — a steal in New York City, especially considering my dates were during World Pride Week in June. I was also able to add my Marriott Bonvoy number upon arrival, earning both points and elite nights for my stay.
I wanted to take advantage of the Citi perks while I still could, though, because as of Sept. 1, 2019, many of them will be disappearing, and the 4th Night Free perk will be limited to use only twice per year. All of this is happening while the annual fee is increasing, too.
If you plan to ditch the card once the benefits change, it’s best to book the property directly on Marriott’s website and pay with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Besides earning 6 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott properties, you’ll also earn perks like up to $300 in statement credits each year for Marriott purchases (including room rates), complimentary Marriott Gold status, a free award night (worth up to 50,000 points) after your account anniversary each year and beyond. My stay earned me almost 18,000 Bonvoy points, including a bonus I got for having Gold elite status from the The Platinum Card® from American Express.
My reservation came with a $60 daily breakfast credit (for room service or the second-floor library co-working space/restaurant), free premium Wi-Fi (normally $12 per day, though slower Wi-Fi is free) and a $40 credit for the minibar during my stay. It’s worth noting that an additional $30 facilities fee was charged (many hotels in New York charge a resort/urban/facilities fee) per night, but I still came out on top with the ample breakfast credit and more.
The hotel is appriately named after its address, 11 Howard, just down the street from the 6, J, N, Q, R, W and Z Canal Street subway stop. The Chinatown location is close to the hip boutiques, trendy restaurants and pretty much anything you could ever want. The proximity to the many subways allowed me easy access to other neighborhoods quickly and easily — Herald Square was 12 minutes (a couple stops) away on the Q line.
The lobby of 11 Howard was surprisingly nondescript. It felt like walking into the lobby of an apartment building rather than a hotel. A small table with two iPads is where check-in took place, but no one was really manning the table as in standing behind it. It gave off a minimalist vibe and felt high-end but didn’t have the typical energy of a hotel lobby with a lot of hustle and bustle.
There were a few places to sit, but if you wanted to hang out and order a drink, your best bet was to hit the second-floor library, which was a bar/restaurant/co-working space/lobby-type area. You could also pay a visit to The Blond bar, but don’t expect to pass the cut late at night unless you’re dressed to impress — or on the list.
When I walked into the lobby, I was immediately attended to. Staff sort of appeared out of nowhere to welcome me (and this continually happened every time I entered the hotel) and check me in.
When stepping off the elevator onto the sixth floor, I picked up on a delicious floral scent. The smell didn’t continue into my room, though, which smelled a little musty.
The room was small with a spare design. What the room lacked in design features (the only wall art was a chalk white square mounted askew over the bed), it made up for in comfort — I got a wonderful rest in the inviting bed. Though it was small (not a king), I sank delicately into the mattress, and the pillows were some of the best I’ve laid my head upon in a hotel.
Other details came in the form of brass light fixtures, and the lighting was intuitive, with lamps near the bed, desk and armchair and track lighting near the window. The window, while small, let in plenty of natural light and had nice views of city buildings.
There was also a safe, iron and hair dryer in the room, and the minibar, a small fridge stocked with snacks and drinks, was in the closet.
The window let in a good amount of daylight and had nice views overlooking Lower Manhattan. Come night, thick curtains blocked out the light.
In general, the room was was quiet, and I felt at home in the space. The vibe seemed to be a poor man’s version of an Ian Schrager-inspired Edition, with a throw casually tossed on the edge of the bed and simple, sophisticated details like a nightstand resembling a tree stump.
The shower was hot and powerful, and the lighting over the sink was strong, perfect for makeup.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Grown Alchemist amenities, as the smell was a bit strong and musky, but I still used the shower gel.
The main downside of the room was that it simply wasn’t maintained to the standard the rest of the hotel was. It was sorely in need of a coat of paint, with scuffs and scratches covering the walls.
There was even a large water stain on the ceiling near the doorway.
But these were easy fixes — and I hope that, by the time my next stay rolls around, some much needed maintenance on the guest rooms will have been done.
The room could have used a fresh coat of paint, but it delivered when it came to technology. The alarm clock had a few USB ports as well as power sockets. A large, flat-screen TV was a focal point on the wall, and my favorite was the iPad, where I was able to order room service or contact the front desk.
Food and Beverage
The $60 breakfast credit was an excellent perk that I used daily to get room service. The tablet was responsive and easy to use, and my food was delivered with a smile within 30 minutes each morning, exactly the time the tablet said it would be.
One day, I ate breakfast in the library and was well attended to by the staff. Although the price was technically for two guests, my order of avocado toast with eggs ($22), a cold-pressed juice ($13), a latte with oat milk ($7), plus tax, tip and service charge totaled close to the full $60 each day. If I’d had a guest in the room, I would have had to downsize my order a bit. But the avocado toast and eggs were both delicious, and I looked forward to my order each morning.
The library was a space that felt like a co-working spot, but also served food and sort of served as a lobby, since the downstairs lobby was borderline barren.
Another afternoon, I ordered a burger in the library. The meal wasn’t quite as tasty as the perfectly cooked eggs and savory avocado toast I was used to getting each morning, but it did the trick.
The hotel also featured a trendy bar called The Blond, which I didn’t get a chance to visit on this trip but had been to previously. The bar turned into more of a club late at night, and the space was usually frequented by a hip, fashionable crowd.
Le Coucou is the hotel’s upscale French restaurant, where chef Daniel Rose whips up French specialties in a dark but inviting space.
Although I chose to do my workouts at nearby Y7 yoga locations, the hotel had a gym, if you could call it that. It was two small guest rooms-turned-fitness spaces, with some weights and a few treadmills on the third floor. Higher Dose was also on the floor and featured infrared light saunas known for ridding customers of jet lag symptoms like fatigue.
Staff was friendly, always giving off a downtown, urban-chic vibe but never seeming unapproachable. In general, their manner was always casual but always helpful. All of the staff members reminded me of that one cool friend you have that always knows the newest and hottest restaurants but isn’t so cool they won’t help you get a reservation.
After spending four nights at 11 Howard, I could see why Anna Delvey picked the spot to essentially live at for a few months. Although it’s not the fanciest property or largest hotel room I’ve stayed in in New York, it did feel like home. It was the right mix of cool and millennial but also comfortable and quiet. Staff were obliging, and the public spaces and guest rooms didn’t feel opulent or overdone but tranquil and cozy. The lobby almost mimicked an apartment building, and I would happily spend a few months living there and ordering $60 breakfasts (for free), but I wouldn’t mind if they gave my room a new coat of paint first.
All photos by the author.
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