Review: W New York Times Square

Over Labor Day Weekend I was in New York for the US Open, courtesy of the Starwood American Express thanks to the “AmEx Stars” program I’m participating in. I decided to fly out a day early, however, as I was planning on seeing family in New York. So I’ll be reviewing my experience at the US Open soon, though first I figured I’d review the W New York Times Square.

Long time readers know that I love the two Andaz hotels in New York, located on 5th Avenue and on Wall Street. And I’m tempted to stay at them every time I’m in the city, because they really are fantastic hotels and a great value. However, I also want to review some new properties in the city, as I realize that’s probably more interesting to you guys.

After comparing rates I decided on the W New York Times Square, which I booked for $260 through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. By booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts I received a $100 food and beverage credit, continental breakfast for two, a room upgrade based on availability, and guaranteed 4PM late check-out. The last two benefits are redundant since I get them anyway as a Starwood Platinum member, though I figured it would be worth it for the $100 food and beverage credit. Given that other hotels were charging about the same without the food and beverage credit, this seemed like a good option, especially since it was just for a one night stay.

Up front I should say that Times Square has to be the worst place in all of New York City. It’s an awful, touristy place, there are no two ways about it. And the W is located right in the heart of Times Square, so that makes it even worse But I knew that going in, and I booked it despite that.


Hotel exterior

The entrance to the hotel has a glass ceiling with water on it, which is pretty cool, though at the same time almost made me dizzy.


Hotel entrance

The lobby is located a few floors up, and in typical W fashion was dark and had obnoxiously loud music.


Lobby


Lobby

The check-in process was quick enough, and I asked about the possibility of a suite upgrade. The agent told me I had already been upgraded to a “Cool Corner Room,” though I specifically asked again about the possibility of a suite upgrade. He told me they didn’t have any suites available without even looking. The website showed several suites left for sale, but I just wasn’t in the mood to argue, so let it go.

My “Cool Corner Room” was located on the 56th floor, room 5601.


56th floor


Room entrance

While the fact that it was a corner room meant I had windows on two sides, the room is the same size as a standard room.


Cool Corner Room

The room featured a king size bed, desk, and lounge seat.


Desk/TV


King size bed


Lounge chair

The room featured views of Times Square. Fortunately since I was on such a high floor the room was quiet, which is rare when staying near Times Square.


View from my room

The bathroom was small but functional.


Bathroom

The water pressure and temperature control in the shower were excellent. However, there was no way to turn on the shower without getting soaked with cold water, since there was a glass shield by the shower. Who’s responsible for designing these things?! Why not instead place the shower controls on the opposite side of the shower head?


Shower

I had been given a card at check-in which described the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits.


Benefits

Frustratingly the $100 food and beverage credit had to be used in Blue Fin Restaurant (as opposed to in-room dining), while the continental breakfast had to be taken via in-room dining (as opposed to Blue Fin Restaurant). It’s also worth noting that the $100 credit all had to be used at once, since the card had to be presented at the time of redemption.

The breakfast option consisted of coffee OR juice and a croissant OR muffin.


Breakfast card

While I’ve found the Platinum/Fine Hotels & Resorts breakfast amenity to be fantastic at Starwood properties internationally, I don’t think I’ve had a decent breakfast at a US property. It’s always just coffee and/or juice and bread of some sort. At that point I’d rather just grab juice and a banana at a convenience store somewhere for $3.


Breakfast


Breakfast

I also had dinner with my mom at Blue Fin Restaurant to use up the $100 food and beverage credit. I think Blue Fin’s website gets it right when they call themselves “the crown jewel of the Times Square restaurant scene.” I mean, they are perhaps slightly better than Olive Garden, TGI Fridays, McDonalds, and Starbucks, which are the other options nearby, but that’s all I can say.

The restaurant itself is nice and we had no problems getting a table, but for a seafood restaurant I really thought their dishes were a bit off, and tasted more like they were reheated on an airplane.


Blue Fin Restaurant

For a starter I had Maryland blue crab empanadas.


Maryland blue crab empanadas

Then for the main course I had pan seared halibut.


Pan seared halibut

I thought the presentation was great, though the actual quality/taste of the food was lacking. The halibut was extremely dry, and the empanadas lacked a kick. It was basically like going to Red Lobster minus the cheddar bay biscuits. But what do I know, I don’t claim to be a food critic…

The hotel also has a basic gym. Unfortunately three of the four treadmills were broken and I had to call hotel security in order to use it in peace, as I wrote about here.


Gym


Gym

Anyway, I’m happy to have tried the hotel, as it’s now on my list of hotels to avoid. The service was indifferent at best, the hotel goes the cheapest possible route with Platinum benefits, and the hotel is designed with style over substance in mind (as is the case with most W hotels). I’ll be reviewing the Westin Times Square and W Union Square this week, both of which I liked more (the former because it’s a better value, and the latter because it doesn’t feel like a W).

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Comments

  1. Genuine question – why do you keep staying at W hotels if you feel “they are all style, and no substance?”.

  2. @ Amnesiac — I don’t, I’ve vowed to stop staying at Ws. This was for a stay two weeks ago, my stay at the W Union Square was booked as part of the AmEx Stars program (though I actually quite liked that hotel). After the W Santiago I wanted to give W hotels one more try, and the W Times Square was the stay that made me decide to avoid them in the future once and for all.

  3. were there Fantastic Suites available for upgrade? those are usually the standard suite upgrades for Platinum guests. If there was, I would’ve pressed the issue (but I’m a Platinum guest…Youtube video lol)

  4. @lucky I was in a similar situation with being recently checked into a SPG property. I was tired and it was late- FDA didn’t want to give me a junior suite upgrade- showed 2 as available before I walked up to check-in. Didn’t press the issue (just like in your case). As a Platinum guest, I was put in the old non-renovated tower right by the ice machine and elevators with a view of the back parking lot. Again, it was an airport hotel and I didn’t press the issue- but I should’ve. Did you have any regrets not pressing the issue about the Fantastic Suites being available that same day?

  5. @ Jamison — Hah, I can certainly relate! At the end of the day the room was perfectly sufficient (it doesn’t sound as bad as room you had in above example) and it was more based on principle. That being said, at a certain point you realize some brands just aren’t worth it, and Ws are one of them. I’ll just take my business elsewhere and move on, I think.

  6. I wasn’t that impressed either when I stayed at this hotel a couple years ago. I’ve stayed elsewhere in Manhatten since then. But darn, why did you have to give this hotel (and the W brand) such a bad review. Now I can no longer call you “a paid shill for SPG”. šŸ˜‰ I kind of enjoyed busting your balls after your last great review that was paid for by SPG Amex (what was it Sheraton Tribeca or something?). šŸ™‚

  7. @ gregorygrady — Hah, see, I said my stays wouldn’t change radically.

    That being said, SPG did pay for my stays at the Westin Times Square and W Union Square, and as luck would have it I did enjoy those hotels more.

    I thought the Westin was much more reasonably priced and I found the service to be better, though I still wouldn’t stay in Times Square anyway.

    And I quite liked the W Union Square, given the fact that it didn’t really feel like a W.

    But that’s for another post!

  8. Lucky I have had issues with Plat upgrades too. Suites show up on the website but the inventory never matches. You should have seen the initial design of the showers when the hotel first opened. They didn’t have that lip at the entrance to the shower and you can imagine where the water ended up!

  9. Lucky: Based on my experiences at places you have reviewed, I think your reviews are quite fair. As such, I have been wondering if hotels/airlines reach out to you after you summarise your experiences with quotes like, “Anyway, Iā€™m happy to have tried the hotel, as itā€™s now on my list of hotels to avoid. The service was indifferent at best, the hotel goes the cheapest possible route with Platinum benefits, and the hotel is designed with style over substance in mind (as is the case with most W hotels).” If they do reach out to you, do they seek more details or simply apologise and hope that you’ll follow-up with a better experience and review?

  10. @ SINjim — Thanks! Of the hundreds of reviews I’ve written, I’ve been contacted by a travel provider maybe a handful of times at most. And in those cases it was just to get more info on the situation. But surprisingly enough follow up is rare.

  11. Lucky,

    Stupid question, but…is the shower faucet in a fixed position? If not, then just point it away from you. Of course, if it is fixed, then yeah, that is a very dumb design if there is only one faucet and you can’t change the direction of it…

  12. @Lucky, do any hotels have your loyalty account flagged? At this point, I am amazed SPG hasnā€™t flagged your SPG number with a note that instructs staff to go the extra mile for you. In this case going the extra mile would mean following the rules of their own program.

  13. @ David — I believe you can provide feedback directly to them, though I doubt it would change anything.

    @ Dan — To the best of my knowledge no programs do.

  14. @ wwk5d — It was more or less fixed. It could move only very little, not enough to sneak in there without getting drenched.

  15. “Why not instead place the shower controls on the opposite side of the shower head?”

    Gecause that would require like 3x the length and complexity of plumbing, to run the pipes from one wall all the way around or above the shower to the opposite wall. Not to mention that it would result in a significantly greater quantity of cold/unheated water remaining in the significantly longer pipe between the controls and the shower head, thereby exacerbating the very problem that you’re complaining about. Oh, and any temperature changes that you make with the controls would take 3x as long to be felt, since the water would have to travel that much longer distance from the controls to the shower head. In general, it is optimal to have the controls as close to the shower head as possible.

  16. May have already mentioned, but this is the proposed site of the Freddies and possibly also Frequent Traveler U next year.

    Will avoid it if possible.

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