Close, but No Cigar: A Review of Mr. C Seaport Hotel in NYC
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To The Point
Mr. C Seaport combines European elegance with American-sized rooms, nestled in a quiet but lovely corner of Manhattan. Pros: large rooms, impeccable service and all-new everything. Cons: remnants of its past life as a Best Western, so-so on-site restaurant.
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Before the New York location, only a single Mr. C hotel existed, in Beverly Hills, California. In late 2018, Mr. C Seaport opened in lower Manhattan as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, and Mr. C Coconut Grove will soon bring the brand to Miami. Brothers Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani are known for their restaurants, but I’ve come to know their work by staying in their newest hotel in New York’s Seaport District NYC (formerly South Street Seaport). The 66-room property feels quiet and quaint, located on the corner of two cobblestone streets just a stone’s throw from a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
While Mr. C Seaport is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, it does not partner with any other points-earning alliances. You can book directly, but I bought my three-day stay in January through Hotels.com. I paid for the room with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for 10x miles back via Hotels.com (offer available until Jan. 31, 2020), a breath of fresh air when it comes to staying at properties that don’t earn points.
Even in the dead of winter, I paid $321.93 per night, all taxes and fees included. That was for the property’s cheapest room type, Superior Courtyard, though I was upgraded to a Deluxe Peck Slip room with a solid view by being a Hotels.com Rewards Gold member. It helped that this property was also listed as a VIP venue at Hotels.com, which granted me, as a Gold member, a $10 valet credit, a $10 minibar credit and free premium Wi-Fi.
As this is a five-star property, you’ll find rates north of $500 if you’re looking to stay during warmer months. Plus, you’ll want to budget $20 per day for the “residence fee.” Best I can tell, this covers a welcome Bellini drink upon arrival (not per day), morning coffee/tea in the lobby, Wi-Fi access, access to a Lincoln Navigator to take you anywhere within a 20-block radius, and two basic laundry services per stay. As with pretty much all resort fees, this one feels like a rip-off as well.
Remember the Best Western Plus Seaport Inn Downtown? Sitting at 33 Peck Slip, that was the building that now houses Mr. C Seaport. It was purchased for $38.3 million through a bankruptcy auction, and developed by the same duo behind Mr. C Beverly Hills — Bob Ghassemieh and Alex Ghassemieh.
The site was near the Brooklyn Bridge, and even the New York Stock Exchange was walkable on a pleasant day.
Hurricane Sandy packed a powerful punch in the Seaport, but all appeared to be recovered and humming along just fine. I found the neighborhood to be blissfully quiet for Manhattan — a welcome respite after a bustling day. Cornered by cobblestone streets, the surrounding shops and eateries felt hip yet historic, and the dearth of tall skyscrapers in the immediate vicinity brought a sense of calm and smallness to an otherwise larger-than-life metropolis.
I’m not exactly the nightlife type, so I wasn’t bothered by the relatively sleepy nature of the businesses surrounding the hotel. I also found the area to be more community than tourist hotspot — a plus, in my book.
The brand-new Lincoln Navigator available to shuttle you 20 blocks in any direction was on a first-come, first-served basis, and the final stop for the 6 train was about a 10-minute walk away.
I found this to be particularly useful. The uptown 6 line begins at the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station, which meant that I was guaranteed a subway seat for my morning commute to Union Square regardless of when I left the hotel.
I immediately felt underdressed when arriving to check-in. Behind the desk was a gentleman clearly trained in the art of hospitality, dressed to the nines and surrounded by gleaming wooden panels in the lobby. I recall stumbling over the usual, “I’m well, thank you!” response to his initial inquiry, but no matter. He pressed on and made me feel welcome, never pausing to question my ability to form full sentences when handling basic day-to-day interactions.
Rather than handling paperwork at the check-in counter, I was encouraged to visit a sitting area just behind me where I’d be treated to a welcome Bellini.
The sitting area was lush and full of grandeur, as if from a modern European fairy tale: delicate velvet couches, glossy paneling, soft music and a couple of Very Important People making Very Important Calls. I found it a bit much for my simple tastes, but I did appreciate that the gentleman delivering my Bellini was as down-to-earth as they come.
Moments after my Bellini — which was spectacular, by the way — was served, I was presented with a form to initial, an overview of the hotel’s layout, confirmation of my room upgrade and my key. I provided my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel globally, for any incidentals.
I was upgraded to Room 308, halfway up the building and overlooking Peck Slip. My first impression upon entering was amazement at the square footage. At 263 square feet, I found it quite spacious for a room in Manhattan.
I’d also expected the European sensibilities of the Mr. C brand to further compound the smallness, but mercifully those worries were assuaged.
All guest rooms featured teak veneer, rainfall showers, 50-inch, 4K televisions and Italian linens so white that you needed sunglasses to properly evaluate them.
My room had a sitting chair, a simple work desk, a massive king bed and a bathroom fit for royalty. I also had plenty of room to navigate and a great view from my window. Plus, the window would open — an appreciated touch given my love of outside air.
Unfortunately, that same window wasn’t great at blocking sound. Even on the third floor and with the window shut, voices and vehicular noises seeped into my room at all hours of the day (and night). I resorted to cranking a white-noise app on my phone at night to achieve a more restful night.
The bed was massive and remarkably comfortable, and while the desk chair looked quite curious, it proved to be comfortable. The spacious shower was a real treat, as were the individual bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
Interestingly, the towels were so enormous that they were a bit difficult to handle, but you can bet you’ll never read an online review kvetching about towels being too big.
The new Samsung HDTV included Chromecast, which was a real boon. This allowed me to use the Netflix app on my iPhone to broadcast “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” to a much larger screen. I’m now completely spoiled. Every hotel should include a television with built-in device streaming.
One element that I did take issue with was the HVAC. While the wall-mounted control unit was easy enough to figure out, it never seemed to do exactly what I instructed. I genuinely had no idea what the temperature was in my room during my stay. I tried A/C, I tried heat, and I never settled on a comfortable temperature.
Food and Beverage
At $29.99 per person for breakfast, I decided not to indulge. As part of the $20 residence fee, guests were welcome to coffee and tea in the lobby until 10am each morning, but I had a couple of bones to pick on this front.
For starters, the coffee was pretty bitter on the two days I went down and partook. But more importantly, I have a strong preference for in-room coffeemakers. In the early morning, the last thing I want to do is go downstairs to a public place to get coffee. The coffee should be in the room, where I’m free to enjoy without being concerned with how I look.
It baffles me that some of the most basic hotel properties in the world can provide gratis Keurig machines for guests, and yet a five-star location charging upwards of $300 per night does not.
Given the wind and snow outside during my stay, I decided to try dinner at the hotel restaurant, Bellini. On a Monday evening, for nearly two hours, it was just me and one other party of four.
The restaurant itself was beautiful, and the waitstaff was attentive and gracious. I’ll confess that I felt a bit uncomfortable with the fanciness of the service — I can pour my own refills from the water on the table, you know? — but clearly, intentions were good.
What wasn’t good was the entree. My starter salad was fantastic, but the cheese risotto that followed was unremarkable in every way. I ate it, as I was famished, but I then went back to my room and snacked. It tasted overly cheesy with little in the way of nuanced flavor, and it was in no way worth the $20-plus tag assigned to it.
The most egregious part of the meal, however, was the single bottle of still water. That rang up for $10, roughly a 10-times premium over what I’d pay at a local bodega. That was just outright extortion, and it left yet another bad taste in my mouth. Based on other online reviews, the general perception of Bellini is that it’s solid. Perhaps I just arrived on an off night, but I would recommended dining elsewhere.
The use of the Navigator was a nice touch. Even on rainy or snowy days, you could use this to drop you at a subway station and be on your way.
The free basic Wi-Fi was, in a word, lackluster. I saw upload and download rates of around 4 Mbps during my stay, serviceable for basic email but far below what I expect from a five-star property. For perspective, the nearby CitizenM Bowery capsule hotel offers its guests 120 Mbps down and 125 Mbps up free of charge.
There was an on-site fitness center stocked with Technogym equipment, a concierge for handling reservations and car rentals and a very cool set of perks for kiddos. Dubbed Little C, those traveling with kids received a Mr. C teddy bear, homemade cookies with Nutella spread, sprinkles and milk on the first night, Honest Company Discovery Set bath and body products, a coloring book, free access to a crib and discounts to local attractions.
Pet-friendly rooms could be requested by contacting the property in advance, for $25 per animal.
My stay at the Mr. C Seaport was a mixed bag. There were more positives than negatives, but I can’t say with a straight face that this property is worth the astronomical rates I’m seeing. Couple that with the fact that you cannot redeem points for stays here, and I’m inclined to recommend one of the myriad other top-tier properties in New York City.
While the renovation is impressive and every element of each room is brand-new, there were still reminders that this place was once a Best Western. The carpeting in the public spaces just felt a notch below five-star, and the windows still let plenty of city noise in. I could also see guidelines used by construction workers etched into the marble above my toilet.
While the lobby and bar area were impeccable, as was service from end-to-end, the on-site restaurant left much to be desired in the taste department. Wi-Fi speeds were well below five-star standards, and the lack of an in-room coffeemaker was a miss.
I adored the sleepy neighborhood, the easy walk to the Brooklyn Bridge and the friendly faces, but the overall package isn’t worth the asking price.
All photos by the author.
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