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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 Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express. 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.
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.
The bellman pointed us into the lobby, where reception was located. The lobby was well appointed and intimate, though certainly not over the top.
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.
The elevators to the guest rooms are on the left, while to the right are the elevator to the residences.
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.
Upon exiting the elevator we turned right and walked towards the end of the hallway, where room #312 was located.
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.
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.
The double beds were extremely comfortable and nicely spaced out, with a plush mattress and great sheets.
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.
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.
Across from the beds was a dresser with a TV on top, along with a minibar and coffee machine.
For a Ritz-Carlton I thought the coffee setup was rather low-end, as I would have expected something more like Nespresso.
The minibar was fairly well stocked, though given the prices, I didn’t touch anything in there.
The room had a large bathroom, and I was impressed it had double sinks, which you often don’t see in non-suites.
Toiletries were provided by Asprey, a brand which I generally like.
The bathroom was extremely spacious all around, though that may largely be because it was an ADA room.
As a result, there was also a walk-in shower, with both a handheld and wall-mounted shower head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Then there was an omelet station, as well as a few hot prepared dishes, including french toast, breakfast potatoes, bacon, and sausage.
That was the extent of the buffet.
I had a slice of french toast, some fruit, yogurt, and an 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.
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.