Review: Ritz-Carlton Westchester

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Over Labor Day weekend my mom and I spent one night in White Plains, to kick off our five day trip to New York.

My mom and I always spend Labor Day Weekend in the area. For a bit of background, my oldest brother passed away at a young age, and his birthday is around Labor Day, and the anniversary of his passing is a couple of days after his birthday, so it’s always a tough week for my mom. So around Labor Day every year we visit his grave (which is in the area), and then typically go to the US Open, since my mom loves tennis, as did my oldest brother.

Anyway, we thought it would be easier if we actually spent the night in White Plains, rather than just take the train in for the day from the city. My mom wanted to meet some of her friends in the area as well, so it was just more convenient.

I was in charge of hotels, and ended up booking pretty last minute. I noticed there was a Ritz-Carlton Westchester, which sort of surprised me. I didn’t realize they had a property there, and since the only other hotels from my preferred chains were limited service properties, this seemed like a good option.

The rate wasn’t cheap, at $399 for the one night stay. I had Ford book me through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. For booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts, we received the following perks at this hotel:

  • Noon Check-in, When Available
  • Room Upgrade upon Arrival, When Available
  • Daily Breakfast for Two People
  • Guaranteed 4pm Late Check-out
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • US$100 Property Credit To Be Used During Your Stay

In the interest of being thorough, I should mention that this hotel doesn’t belong to Virtuoso. Ritz-Carlton does have their proprietary STARS program which Ford could have booked me through, though in this case the benefits weren’t as good.

So while the rate wasn’t cheap, for what it’s worth the alternative was the Hyatt House, which was charging $250 for the one night stay. At that point I thought it was marginally worth it for breakfast, the $100 property credit, etc.

Anyway, our flights arrived at around 9PM, so we rented a car and drove from Westchester County Airport, which took about 15 minutes

The hotel is in downtown White Plains, which is a cute enough area — I haven’t been there in years.

The hotel has a pretty impressive exterior, at least in the context of the White Plains skyline.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains exterior

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains signage

Upon pulling up at the hotel we were informed that the only parking option was valet, which cost $30. That’s sort of steep, but not surprising for a Ritz-Carlton.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains driveway

The bellman pointed us into the lobby, where reception was located. The lobby was well appointed and intimate, though certainly not over the top.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby

The associate checking us in was friendly, and went over the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits we’d receive. She explained that we had an $80 breakfast credit, which we could use in the lobby lounge or through in-room dining.

Furthermore, she explained that the $100 property credit could be used towards the spa or food & beverage. The catch is that the hotel’s only food & beverage options are either the lobby lounge or in-room dining. While there’s an attached BLT Steak Restaurant that’s technically part of the hotel (at least it’s listed on their website), the credit can’t be used there.

The front office associate made no mention of an upgrade, though I didn’t really ask, since the hotel seemed sold out, and since we preferred a room with two beds anyway, which usually limits upgrade opportunities.

Within a few minutes we were checked in, and then turned right and followed the hallway to the elevators.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby

The elevators to the guest rooms are on the left, while to the right are the elevator to the residences.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains elevator bank

The hotel has a total of 10 floors (and then the residences are on top of that), and we were assigned a room on the third floor.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains hallway

Upon exiting the elevator we turned right and walked towards the end of the hallway, where room #312 was located.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains hallway

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room exterior

Our accessible room with two double beds was a good size. There was an entryway, and then we turned left to get into the rest of the room.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room entrance

I’m not sure what to make of the decor of this hotel. It felt neither dated nor modern, but perhaps more than anything, just felt generic.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room

The double beds were extremely comfortable and nicely spaced out, with a plush mattress and great sheets.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room with two double beds

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room

In the far left of the room was a desk that could double as a dining table, thanks to the fact that it had two chairs.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room desk

In the far left corner of the room was a chair, which was rather oddly placed since there clearly wasn’t quite enough room for it. I’m not sure why they didn’t just move the beds over a bit, given that there was quite a bit of empty space next to the bed closest to the bathroom.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room lounging chair

Across from the beds was a dresser with a TV on top, along with a minibar and coffee machine.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains room TV

For a Ritz-Carlton I thought the coffee setup was rather low-end, as I would have expected something more like Nespresso.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester in-room coffee machine

The minibar was fairly well stocked, though given the prices, I didn’t touch anything in there.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester minibar

The room had a large bathroom, and I was impressed it had double sinks, which you often don’t see in non-suites.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester bathroom with double sinks

Toiletries were provided by Asprey, a brand which I generally like.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester Asprey toiletries

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester Asprey toiletries

The bathroom was extremely spacious all around, though that may largely be because it was an ADA room.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester toilet

As a result, there was also a walk-in shower, with both a handheld and wall-mounted shower head.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester shower

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester bathroom two shower heads

Not that I expect amazing views in White Plains, but the views were especially underwhelming, as we were mainly looking at the hotel’s roof, and the windows seemed to have a horrible reflective design.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester room view

As I said above, while the room wasn’t really dated, it wasn’t especially well maintained either. For example, the buttons on the AC unit were barely visible anymore.

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Ritz-Carlton Westchester room temperature control

Wifi in the room was fast, so I had no complaints there.

By the time my mom and I settled in it was around 10:15PM, so we decided to head to the lobby lounge for some drinks, since we had the property credit to use. The lobby lounge is quite nice, with a fire pit in the center area separating the lounge into two areas.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby lounge

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains lobby lounge

The service in the bar was friendly but bizarre. As we sat down the server looked at my mom and said “maybe I can get you an alcoholic beverage” and then she turned and looked at me with a confused look on her face and said “or maybe something else to drink?” Based on the way she said it, it was almost as if she was going to follow it up with “would you maybe like a kids menu and a shirley temple, junior?”

I’m not sure how old she thought I was, as I don’t remember the last time I’ve been IDed, let alone had someone think I wasn’t 21. When I did finally order a glass of wine she IDed me. Again, nothing wrong with that, I was just surprised, as I never get IDed anymore.

We ordered some ceviche with our drinks, which was good, though a small portion.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains ceviche

We got a good night of sleep, and then the following morning went to the lobby lounge for breakfast. Service in the lobby lounge was tragic. It was worse than Ann Coulter’s performance on the Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe. Like, it was actually the least attentive service I’ve received any time in my life.

The lobby lounge was pretty full, though there didn’t seem to be a host, so after a while we seated ourselves. We weren’t acknowledged for 10 minutes, and that was despite me trying to flag someone down repeatedly. The people working there were hard working, but they just seemed to be way understaffed.

The servers didn’t have a single proactive conversation with us. We had to beg for menus, beg to order, beg to get coffee refills, beg to have our plates cleared, beg to get the check, etc. Just to be clear, by “beg” I mean I either had to get up to get someone, or had to wave my hands in the air like a crazy person for several minutes before they acknowledged us. It was unreal, I’ve never witnessed anything like this before, let alone at a luxury hotel.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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We decided to do the buffet, which cost $31 per person (covered under our breakfast benefit). The buffet was very simple, though the quality was good, at least. There was a small table with yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal, bagels, salmon, pastries, and oatmeal.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast buffet

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast buffet

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast buffet

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast buffet

Then there was an omelet station, as well as a few hot prepared dishes, including french toast, breakfast potatoes, bacon, and sausage.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast buffet

That was the extent of the buffet.

I had a slice of french toast, some fruit, yogurt, and an omelet.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains breakfast omelet

We didn’t spend that much more time in the hotel, though there’s a gym and pool on the 10th floor. There were several people in the gym so I didn’t get a good pic of it, unfortunately. Furthermore, the pool was quite full, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures.

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Ritz-Carlton White Plains gym

While we technically could have checked out as late as 4PM, we ended up just packing our stuff and leaving at around 11AM to accomplish what we had planned for the day, as it seemed easier than returning to the hotel.

Ritz-Carlton Westchester bottom line

I’ve long found Ritz-Carlton properties to be highly inconsistent. I’m not someone who swears by the brand, and if anything, I think many of Ritz-Carlton’s properties are marginally more luxurious than the major hotel chains at a significantly higher price.

What interests me about Ritz-Carlton are some of their luxurious international properties, as well as some of their properties with unique locations. They have some great properties for sure, just as Four Seasons has some amazing hotels, and also some “meh” hotels.

Well, the Ritz-Carlton Westchester isn’t one of those great properties. It’s a fine city hotel and I suppose there’s not much competition in the White Plains luxury hotel market. However, the rooms aren’t especially lux, and while the service in general was friendly enough, the breakfast experience was completely unacceptable. Usually I’m willing to give hotels the benefit of the doubt on a single bad performance, but out of hundreds and hundreds of hotel stays, this was my worst breakfast experience by far.

To sum it up, if you need to stay in White Plains and want the most luxurious place, the Ritz-Carlton is it. However, that’s not saying a whole lot. If you’re used to luxury hotels in virtually any other major market, you’ll likely be disappointed.

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About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Please accept my sympathy regarding the loss of your brother and kudos to you for making sure you’re w your mom on the anniversary of his passing.

  2. Ben, I want to commend you for being so thoughtful and caring towards your mom. I’m sure this time period is also difficult for you, but you’re there for her in more than just calling her up and saying something nice. I think that says something very sweet about who you are.

  3. Is someone else allowed to book me on FHR? I thought it’s locked to the name of the cardholder? What’s the secret?

    I am really sorry for your family’s loss.

  4. @ Stvr — The reservation has to be in the name of the cardmember, though it can be booked by a travel advisor as well for the client, assuming they have an Amex Plat Card.

  5. Kudos for being such a good son to your mom, especially when she needs you most. It’s truly admirable and touching 🙂

  6. Geographic suitability is important. Personally I like a nice J W. Marriott more than a Ritz because I find Ritz to be too snooty. Also Ritz does not give me all the Marriott Platinum benefits and I can’t use Virtuoso or FHR rates for work travel.

  7. How much do you want to bet the restaurant workers are Union? It’s rampant and in this part of the country at the Space needle it’s worse. The whole place sounds like a Union House. No thanks & thanks Ben for the review so I can never stay there. Ever

  8. @Lucky, I grew up in White Plains (although I’m quite a bit older than you…) and I had exactly the same reaction when I saw @Tiffany’s Ritz Carlton list the other day: “when did White Plains get a Ritz Carlton?” I vividly remember when the Crowne Plaza was the best game in town. I’ve stayed at the Hilton Westchester the last few times in town and it’s decidedly ‘meh’ so I got my hopes up about the Ritz Carlton. Thanks for resetting my expectations — although it still beats my sister’s guest room!

    Given what White Plains is, it has always mystified me that it couldn’t get a decent hotel business going.

    So glad that you and your mom have a tradition to remember your brother!

  9. I recently stayed at the Rennaisance white plains and was pretty impressed. 5 minute drive from the Ritz right off i-287, free parking (but nothing to walk to), nice breakfast buffet for Gold&Platinum, fresh rooms, albeit small. The Ritz has non-refundable rates that are much less than the FHR rates, Altho no bennies ($187 vs $299 when I looked into staying there in August, picked the Rennaisance instead for $160. Glad I did based on this review). Thanks for the review Ben. Glad you were able to be with family on a difficult day.

  10. I stayed at the Ritz in foggy bottom back in April and I was extremely underwhelmed. The room was small and barely better than that of a Marriott. While the club waiters were nice the food was also disappointing. I think the ritz is running on reputation at this point, at least in America. I feel the four seasons is ten times nicer.

  11. @Lucky – as much as I love reading your blog, as a hospitality management professional it dissapoints me that you ‘wave your arms’ to get attention. Work three months in our shoes and you’ll realise that you will be the last person to be recognised in a restaurant, no matter hotel or free standing. If I were to confront you waving your arms to hard working, alabeit understaffed servers in my restaurant, I’d compliment your meal, add 20% gratutity paid by the House, and ask you never to come back again. <3

  12. Good review. Thanks.
    When all the blogs were talking about the “three free nights” with the new card I felt a check to NOT APPLY for that card.
    Then when I saw the prices for breakfast I know I do not want to spend points or money for the room and then pay those prices for breakfast !
    Also kudos to you for being there for your Mom. Time heals but it is still tough.
    Blessings,
    Robert

  13. @Lucky – I’ve shared your pains at the RC White Plains. It saddens me to read that management hasn’t changed its methods.

    @Kevin – I’m not sure where you work, but it’s certainly not at the Ritz-Carlton or some equivalent establishment. The attitude you describe is appalling, and if you can’t put the customer first, then perhaps you should switch to a different line of work.

  14. @Joe – Have you ever worked with Ford to book accommodations? He’s very good and responsive. He’s always given me and my friends great options for domestic and international locations.

    Ford is building his book just as any young professional. Lucky’s being supportive and helping to contribute to that. Any supportive person would do whatever they could to help their partner and/or family member.

    Sorry the Ritz Carlton in White Plains was not up to standard. I’m also surprised they had such a large location in the city. I realize it’s NY adjacent, but that seem to fit the local business market properly.

  15. Wow. This is my big problem with Ritz-Carlton. As Lucky said in his review, there are some phenomenal, five-star luxury properties and then there are Ritz-Carlton properties like this one that are nothing more than an overpriced regular Marriott. Even the coffeemaker was the standard Marriott coffeemaker. The buffet was also standard Marriott concierge lounge-quality down to the yogurt and cereal. I’d be curious to know if the hotel had shoe shining services or even an espresso machine in the restaurant. I wouldn’t pay more than $150 for this hotel.

    Marriott’s biggest challenge merging with Starwood is what to do with all the duplicative hotels and duplicative brands in the massive combined portfolio. There will have to be a lot of re-flagging, if not liquidation of some brands.

  16. I don’t tavel much much–retired 26 years and have a great apt-26 floor with a
    a great view–I want to travel jut get out of the aspt–but I read your re…
    and say np rather give my money to the SALVATION ARMY
    YOU SOUND LIKE A GFREAT YOUN MAN AND YOUR MOTHER SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF YOU
    ITS DIFFCULT GTO BEAT WHAT I HAVE AT HOME MY WIFE IS THE OFFICE MGR IN MY COND….AND I LOVE MY VIEW
    BLESSING TO YOU AND YOUR MOTHERR

  17. @Lucky – I live near White Plains/Westchester Airport (HPN) and I’ve never been there. Can you give a small review about it? I understand you probably didn’t take many pictures and might be very busy, but it would be cool to see you review a small regional airport with a handful of gates, given the fact that you go to airports with hundreds of gates constantly.
    If you do read this, thanks for reading this!

  18. The Toronto Ritz Carlton is very nice (because it’s new), but the hotel rooms in Cleveland and Denver are almost as disappointing as the one in White Plains. That said, the service in Cleveland and Denver were excellent.

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