Basic Business: A Review of The Westin New York Grand Central
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I found myself in New York for a night and was looking for somewhere centrally located, since I needed to be in both the Flatiron District and the Upper West Side. As a result, I chose to stay at The Westin New York Grand Central because it was between the two — and I'd had good experiences with the Westin brand before.
I booked the night using the Starwood Preferred Guest app at a prepaid rate, which was listed as $225 per night, though taxes and the destination fee ratcheted it up to $291. On busy weeks in New York, the price can sometimes skyrocket above $400. If I had wanted to use points for this SPG category 6 property, it would have cost 20,000 Starpoints, which wasn't the best value for this particular stay.
I paid for the room on my Citi Prestige card, which earned me 873 ThankYou points (worth about $15) thanks to the card's 3x bonus category on travel purchases. On the SPG side, I earned a grand total 1,325 Starpoints for my stay (about $36), which included a 50% Platinum Bonus and 500 Starpoints as my Platinum amenity.
The Westin Grand Central, as its name would suggest, is literally located up the road from New York's iconic Grand Central Terminal. The Grand Central-42nd Street subway station was just a three-minute walk from the hotel. Since so many subway lines cross through Grand Central, the location is good for both business and leisure travelers. However, it's a very busy area, so if you're looking for something more low-key and relaxed, you may want to look in another part of town.
I arrived in NYC at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and decided to take an airport shuttle bus to Manhattan. The trip cost a reasonable $18 one-way ($17 adult fare plus a $1 service charge). The shuttle departed frequently, stopped just a few minutes away from the hotel and overall was a totally painless experience — not something that can often be said for trips to/from NYC's airports. Similar shuttle services from Manhattan to Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) airports will run you $16.
Though I arrived at the hotel around 8:00am after a red-eye from the West Coast, my room was ready upon arrival. The agent also mentioned I had been upgraded to a slightly larger premium corner room, so my stay was off to a brilliant start.
The agent went through the resort fee, which totaled $25. She said it only covered a $25 food-and-beverage credit, but I knew there was more included. I'd seen on the hotel's website that it includes the aforementioned $25 daily food-and-beverage credit, a $20 dry cleaning credit or an audio tour of Grand Central Terminal for two, premium internet and "a yoga experience."
While having a resort fee tacked on to the daily rate was annoying, it actually seemed to be a decent value, considering the amount of perks it included. It was disappointing, though, that the agent wasn't able to explain the full extent of the perks covered under the resort fee, as it's applicable to all guests and some may not realize that the resort fee actually covers some awesome perks. As I mentioned earlier, I chose 500 SPG points as my Platinum welcome amenity. After about 10 minutes in the lobby, I made my way up to the room.
The room itself was your run-of-the-mill Westin room — comfortable but bland. The king size bed was large and comfy, but the walls were adorned with mediocre artwork. A small sleeper sofa was flush against the back window.
The workspace across from the bed is great for business travelers — it's made even better by the fact that it's equipped with power ports and was situated in front of a window.
The bathroom design could be described as "generic," and was stocked with the standard Westin White Tea toiletries.
The shower was spacious and featured a rainfall shower head and good water pressure, though I'm not sure it was tall enough to have passed the TPG shower test.
The rest of the room was pretty basic, with a 42-inch TV, a coffeemaker and a small minibar. The view felt very New York, with many office towers in sight — and even a bit of the Empire State Building.
Food and Beverage
The hotel only has one full restaurant on property, called THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen. It was the only place I could redeem my food-and-beverage credit (besides the minibar in the room), and I went for the chocolate brownie sundae, which was gooey, delicious, and best of all, free.
First and foremost, this property caters towards business travelers, and it has some amenities to reflect that. The hotel boasts over 15,000 square feet of meeting space, an on-site UPS center, 24-hour business center and AV equipment rentals for presentations.
I didn't use any of the business amenities (besides Wi-Fi, of course), but I did visit the gym, which is located on the second floor. It's large and well-equipped, and wasn't crowded, either. I was one of only two people in the gym during my morning visit.
The best thing about the gym is the fact that it has three Peloton bikes!
The Westin Grand Central got all the basics right, in a good location for both business travelers and tourists — especially those on their first or second trip to the Big Apple. During my brief stay, I found that this property provided a standard Westin experience — cookie-cutter, but consistent — which is something that a lot of business travelers desire and have come to expect from the brand. On future visits to NYC, I don't think I'd be eager to stay here again, as the property was lacking in character, but it was more than adequate for my one-night stay in the city.