Art-lover's paradise: A review of the Conrad New York Downtown
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Editor’s note: During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips. Instead, we have been publishing a selection of our most popular reviews from the past year. We have, however, resumed the publication of new, previously unpublished flight, hotel and lounge reviews, from trips taken before the lockdown. We hope this will help you choose once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.
This stay occurred before the coronavirus pandemic caused restrictions on travel to many destinations. New York state currently requires visitors from certain states to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
As a New Yorker, it's not often I get to check out Manhattan hotels. So, when my best friend was coming to visit I jumped at the chance to have a staycation in my own city. It also gave me an opportunity to experience my new Diamond Hilton Honors status at the Conrad New York Downtown.
This hotel is great for visitors, especially if you have elite status with Hilton or points to burn. It's an all-suite property that's been recently refreshed, is close to a ton of attractions, offices, transit options and gives you access to New York's fabulous West Side and the Hudson River.
I loved this hotel -- and I loved it even more when I learned it began its life as an Embassy Suites, which explains why the rooms are so big. It was built in 2000, and legend has it that employees at nearby Goldman Sachs didn't want to stay at an Embassy Suites when they came to town. The firm bought the hotel in 2011 and rebranded as the more luxurious Conrad in 2012.
I'll bet employees don't complain about the accommodations these days.
I booked my stay directly with Hilton online. The total came to $353 per night with taxes. The base rate, however, was $301, so you can see how quickly those taxes and fees add up in New York City. There are state and city taxes and a "Javits Center fee" of $1.50 for the expansion of the city's mammoth convention center.
I earned a total of 11,754 Hilton Honors Points for the stay including 4,377 base points, more than 6,000 bonus points thanks to my Diamond elite status and a 1,000-point bonus when I checked into the hotel.
Later, I received an additional 6,860 Hilton points because I used my brand-new Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which earns 14x points on eligible Hilton stays.
That Aspire credit card comes with Hilton Diamond status for as long as you have the card. While the card has a large annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees), there are other valuable inclusions like an up to $250 annual Hilton resort credit, an up to $250 annual airline credit and a free weekend night when you open your account and each year on your card anniversary.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you want to stay at this property in the future, you can expect to pay anywhere from $265 per night to over $500 per night for a deluxe suite with one king bed, depending on the time of year.
If you want to use points, rooms start at 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which is a solid deal.
The Conrad New York Downtown is in a fabulous location near the lower tip of Manhattan. You couldn't ask for a better spot as a tourist. With a 15-minute walk, you could be at the ferry dock to visit the Statue of Liberty. The Oculus transit station and shopping center is a 10-minute walk away. Brookfield Place mall is across the street, as is the incredible memorial to victims of the Irish famine.
The Sept. 11 memorials and museum are also within walking distance. You could walk around Battery Park, take the Staten Island Ferry, bike on the Westside Highway, explore Wall Street or even get to City Hall without ever hailing a cab. There are great places to eat and grab a bite nearby, too, including Locanda Verde and, for something more casual, Clinton Hall.
The check-in process was great. It was very quiet in the lobby and at the front desk, which might have been because coronavirus fears were beginning to escalate in the U.S. when I stayed here.
There was no one in line, and the employee was very nice. I was told I was entitled to a welcome amenity (I chose bonus points) as well as free breakfast due to my Diamond status. In addition to complimentary breakfast, Hilton's top-tier members enjoy perks such as executive-floor lounge access and room upgrades, so I was pleased to see my status in action.
The hotel has some cool features, including its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. That means it has a relatively light environmental footprint. But really, I was blown away by all the artwork. Art lovers are in for a treat.
As I mentioned earlier, this property recently got a refresh, which included updating the soft furnishings, improving the lighting and replacing the televisions and carpeting. If you go anytime soon, you'll hopefully still get that "new carpet" smell.
I stayed in an executive suite, and I loved it. It was huge by New York City standards -- the hotel says it's more than 700 square feet. I loved the desk setup and the large walk-in closet. I also appreciated the separate bedroom. But my favorite amenity was the Nespresso machine, with new pods available on demand.
My biggest complaint about the room was the low ceilings. The views look out to nearby high-rises, but I didn't mind looking directly at some of the tallest buildings in the country, including the World Trade Center.
My bathroom was narrow, which could be frustrating, and the bathtub was short, though at least it was deep.
There was a separate living room with a wet bar area complete with cabinets and a small sink. There was an L-shaped couch that was comfortable and had a pull-out bed.
My friend thought the mattresses were a little hard, but I loved both the bedding and the mattress.
My internet seemed to work pretty well, but the speed test returned disappointing results. Download speeds were 14.9 Mbps and upload speeds were 14.6 Mbps. I was able to work without any major issues, though, which would be the most important thing for any business traveler.
Food and beverage
I ordered room service around 9 p.m. It was delivered very quickly -- only about 15 minutes later. It was super expensive as expected -- $120 with service included and a $5 delivery fee. The sliders were excellent, the pepperoni pizza was fine (though it reminded me of a very basic frozen variety) and the chicken club sandwich was a little dry.
The employee who delivered our meal was very friendly and said only about 100 of the more than 400 rooms were occupied that Friday night -- a harbinger of the havoc the coronavirus was about to unleash on the travel industry.
The next morning after a great night's sleep we enjoyed breakfast at the Mediterranean-style restaurant and wine bar, Atrio. It's the hotel's upscale restaurant and where elite members can claim their free breakfast. The restaurant has lots of space, an open kitchen and nice views of the city.
Diamond members can choose from a limited side menu or apply $20 per person to anything else on the menu. My friend had avocado toast ($22) and a coffee, and I had eggs and bacon (also $22) as well as grapefruit juice and a double cappuccino.
The total bill came to $47.91, but we weren't asked to pay for any of it. It looks like they gave me more than the $40 typically allocated to the Diamond breakfast, which I thought was a lovely gesture.
There's also the Loopy Doopy rooftop bar, which is a terrace on the 16th floor of the hotel. It offers sweeping views of the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. Sadly, it was still closed for the season during my visit.
The hotel boasts more than 2,000 pieces of one-of-a-kind contemporary artwork including the massive lobby mural by Sol LeWitt “Loopy Doopy (Blue and Purple)" which I loved.
The gym was filled with new equipment including at least five cardio machines and free weights. Cleaning attendants were constantly wiping down surfaces and there was a giant hand-sanitizer dispenser. One of the staff members I chatted with said she'd worked there for 20 years and it was the emptiest she'd ever seen the hotel.
The service at the Conrad New York Downtown was, overall, excellent.
All the employees I interacted with were friendly and chatty. I called the front desk a few times to get more Nespresso pods and they were delivered quickly and with kindness.
Turndown service was offered, and we were left with extra coffee, ice, a sleep fragrance called "Scented" and extra water bottles.
There was only one time I was taken aback during my stay. I asked the woman at the front desk for late checkout since the hotel was practically empty. I asked for 3 p.m., and she said she could only do 2 p.m. I don't know why that hour mattered so much, since the hotel was a ghost town, but I still left a very happy camper.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Conrad New York Downtown.
Thanks to the spacious rooms, good service, glamorous setting and easy access to the wonders of Manhattan, I'd gladly recommend this hotel to any traveler, especially if he or she can snag a good deal using points. And I imagine as the hospitality industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, you'll be able to find great deals using both points and cash.
I know some folks complain that this Conrad is in an isolated part of lower Manhattan, but I'd much rather have a little breathing room downtown than to be crowded in a busy epicenter like Times Square.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
All photos by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.