Review: JW Marriott Essex House New York

Recently I had to be in New York City for a night, and was undecided about where to stay. Typically I’m loyal to Hyatt and Starwood, though I’ve found that converting Starpoints into Marriott Rewards points for redemptions in expensive cities can be an exceptional value.

Since last year it’s possible to convert Starpoints into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, and Marriott’s most expensive properties retail for 45,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, which is the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints.

This is an awesome deal, given that in New York City most Starwood properties are Category 6 & 7, costing 20,000-35,000 Starpoints per night. So being able to redeem 15,000 Starpoints for one of Marriott’s better properties is a great deal.

I ended up deciding on the JW Marriott Essex House due to its location on 59th & 7th, which was right near where I needed to be. This is also close to Central Park. The paid rate would have been almost $800 for my one night stay, though I redeemed just 45,000 Marriott Rewards points.

The JW Marriott’s branding on the outside seems to be more focused on the Essex House branding than the Marriott branding as such.


JW Marriott Essex House New York exterior

I arrived late at night, so the lobby was empty. I thought the lobby was beautiful, in a classic sort of way. There was plenty of seating, and also a nice floral arrangement in the center of the lobby.


JW Marriott Essex House New York lobby


JW Marriott Essex House New York lobby

Reception was located to the right at the far end of the hall, and I was quickly helped by one of the associates.


JW Marriott Essex House New York reception

He was friendly and efficient, and had me checked in within a couple of minutes. He thanked me for being a Marriott Platinum member (which I have through a Starwood status match), and told me I had been “upgraded to a nice room.” He also told me that I had access to the executive lounge, located just off the lobby. I requested 4PM late check-out, which was granted without any pushback.

With keys in hand I walked back towards the entrance and then turned right, where a long hallway led to the elevators.


JW Marriott Essex House New York lobby

The hotel has two sets of elevators, depending on which floor you’re staying on. I was staying on the 22nd floor, so took the elevators leading to floors 19-40. By the way, the white double doors in the below picture are the entrance to the club lounge, which I’ll talk more about in a bit.


JW Marriott Essex House New York elevators

Once outside the elevator, my room was in the opposite direction of most of the other rooms. While the hallway to most rooms led in the other direction, there were doors to two rooms right by the elevators.


JW Marriott Essex House New York hallway

My goodness, maybe I actually did get a good upgrade! I was assigned room 2217.


JW Marriott New York room exterior

As it turned out, this was a huge suite — of course this always seems to happen on a quick overnight when you’re checking in late at night and only want to sleep. The room had a large foyer that led into the living room.


JW Marriott New York suite foyer

The living room was large, and featured a dining table with four seats, a living area with a couch and a comfortable chair, and a long console with a desk and wall-mounted TV.


JW Marriott New York suite living room


JW Marriott New York suite living room


JW Marriott New York suite living room


JW Marriott New York suite living room

Below the TV was a well stocked minibar.


JW Marriott New York suite minibar

Maybe it’s just me, but I found the location of the below chair on the left to be exceedingly random.


JW Marriott New York suite living room

Just off the living room was a half bathroom with a sink and toilet.


JW Marriott New York suite half bathroom

Then a door led to the bedroom, which featured a comfortable bed.


JW Marriott New York suite bedroom

There was a couch of sorts across from it, as well as a wall-mounted TV at a rather awkward angle.


JW Marriott New York suite bedroom


JW Marriott New York suite bedroom

Off the bedroom was the master bathroom, which featured a sink, bathtub, toilet, and small shower.


JW Marriott New York suite bathroom


JW Marriott New York suite bathtub


JW Marriott New York suite toilet


JW Marriott New York suite shower

Toiletries were provided by Aromatherapy Associates.


JW Marriott New York suite toiletries

The bathroom would have been large for a standard room, but was on the small side for a suite — there was a single sink, a small shower, and the toilet wasn’t partitioned off.

The room featured a view of nearby buildings — while the hotel is near Central Park, there weren’t any views of it from my room.


JW Marriott New York suite view

Wifi in the room was fast, though unfortunately the air conditioning in the bedroom didn’t seem to work. The living room cooled off easily, but the bedroom was warm. I probably should have gone down and just requested a standard room, but it was way past my bedtime, and the temperature wasn’t unmanageable. However, I definitely needed to shower in the morning before doing anything else, as I was a bit sweaty.

Aside from the temperature issue, space is the most valuable commodity in NYC, so getting an upgrade like this was a treat. The room was clean, well maintained, and bright, though I’m not so sure about the decor. It was perfectly fine, though felt a bit cheap.

In the morning I checked out the club lounge, which is located on the ground floor just near the elevators. They serve breakfast from 6:30AM until 11AM on weekdays (kudos to them for such long hours).


JW Marriott New York executive lounge hours

The club lounge is a decent size space, with plenty of dining tables. On the plus side, it has high ceilings, so feels spacious, though it does lack natural light.


JW Marriott New York executive lounge

This lounge was innovative in terms of their food spread. In the lounge itself were the drinks, including soft drinks, milk, water, juice, and coffee.


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast spread


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast spread


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast spread


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast spread

Then the breakfast spread was in a room nearby. The food is in an area that’s between the club lounge and the hotel’s restaurant, meaning that the buffet spread is shared between the restaurant and club guests. So the buffet area has two entrances, and one of them has a sign indicating that the area is reserved for lounge guests.


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast

This is great news, because it means that the food selection is much better than the typical disappointing club lounge fare you’d get in the US.


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast room

I’ll let the pictures of the food mostly speak for themselves.


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast


JW Marriott New York executive lounge breakfast

I’d consider this to be a great spread for a US lounge. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to check out the evening spread since I was only staying for one night, though. The club lounge attendants were friendly, and there seemed to be quite a few regulars to the hotel, based on the conversations they had with people.

NYC hotels usually don’t have all that many amenities, so the only other thing worth mentioning is that the hotel has a fairly nice gym, which can be accessed 24 hours per day with a key card.


JW Marriott New York gym


JW Marriott New York gym

I had commitments during the day, and checked out in the afternoon.

JW Marriott New York bottom line

The JW Marriott New York suited my needs perfectly. It was exactly where I needed to be (and personally it’s a location I like in general), the hotel’s public spaces are nice, I got a great upgrade, and the club lounge is excellent.

The date I was in New York was one where virtually everything was either sold out or super expensive, so transferring 15,000 Starpoints to Marriott for the purposes of this redemption represented a great deal. I’d highly recommend this hotel, especially given that it’s fewer points than any of the Westin or W properties in NYC.

Do you have a favorite Marriott property in NYC?

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Comments

  1. I find that NYC hotels are often challenged by air-conditioning, especially older properties like the Essex House. I recognize these properties weren’t necessarily built with AC in mind, but, since some get it right, I know it’s possible to do.

    Of course, nothing will top the misery that was a summer week I spent at the Park Lane a few years ago. I’d have rather been in a capsule hotel than that sauna.

  2. Ha, your room is about 10x the size of the one I got at the Essex House! Had a 5 night stay there about a year ago as Marriott Gold and although we did get a park view room it was tiny with a Queen sized bed.

    The window clearly was far past its prime and we could hear everything in our room plus feel very cold air coming in while 5 feet from the window – the highs were in the 40’s when I stayed. I rarely complain but called about the window and they came and very securely duct taped it up…

  3. I used to love the Westin Times Square when they had a lounge and more suites. I then switched to the Waldorf for their great suites (e-upgrades were a great deal). Now I’m sticking to Andaz with Andaz 5th ave because to TSUs. I appreciate the Essex House review as I’m lifetime platinum in both Starwood and Marriott (and status matched to Hilton and re qualified for Hyatt glob) so I’ve been playing the field. However, Marriott suites are the toughest of all for stays longer than a night.

    I envy those with big spg balances as that’s my favorite chain and blow through those so quick.

  4. Marriott is now upgrading to suites? That’s a nice change.

    I have yet to experience it, but as a lifetime Starwood Platinum, it was one of the features of the Starwood program I hoping we don’t lose when the merger is finished [whenever that might be].

  5. I’d be interested in knowing what they offer at night, including alcohol.

    It’s kind of disappointing that there doesn’t appear to be an espresso machine in the lounge. J.W. Marriott is upscale enough that it should have one.

    By the way, I’m glad they upgraded you to a “nice room.” I sincerely hope they don’t give give an upgrade to a “bad room.”

    The decor looks kind of weird. Sort of a combination between classic hotel decor and suburban office park hotel decor.

    Were slippers and a robe provided?

  6. The most shocking part of this review ……. do people really still consume Fruit Loops?

  7. NYC’s hotels generally are overpriced and underwhelming. That living room looks like from some airport motel room.

  8. I stayed there last year for one night as well in May and got the 10x smaller room like Liz but with no view and I been platinum for 7 years straight at that point. I asked for an upgrade and was denied, was also denied a late checkout. But the lounge and location to Central Park was fantastic for our only night in NYC.

  9. @Jey I mean who goes to NYC to spend hours and hours in their room anyway? But I like the design and decor, looks very posh and antique

  10. I was upgraded to a similar suite earlier this year. Very spacious but the furniture looked like it was purchased at a second-hand store.

  11. The corridors and public areas look nice, but the room decor is pretty so so.
    BTW, doesnt everyone have a shower in the morning before heading out for the day? 🙂

  12. Ben,

    Wow! You really rate when it comes to checking in at hotels. I don’t have time to start a blog but it really seems to pay off for you.

    We are Marriott Platinum Lifetimers and we had a very dissimilar experience at the Essex house. In fact we felt persecuted for using points, and it was such an issue and insulting by the front desk lady that we brought our complaint to the GM.

    He apologised and agreed that the language and behaviour used was incorrect. He planned to provide additional training for all front desk staff regarding guests using points. He returned our points for the stay.

    For the lounge, we expected a better quality in the items offered. You do take wonderful photos. Did you try those little muffins? Or the bagels?

    We went to the Waldorf and had a much better stay there, but of course that has ended.

  13. Great accurate review of one of my favorites.

    I’m in New York often and the Essex House is my usual choice. I like the JW in general and find it to comparable to but not as expensive as Ritz Carlton. The club breakfast is a great plus. You have the same offering as the guests that pay around $40. I love to be able to cross the street for a walk in Cental Park. Many on the staff remember my name – a nice plus.

    If it is a weekend I usually stay at the Andaz Wall Street. Downtown New York on a weekend can be a great deal. A nice hip hotel with a great restaurant breakfast for World of Hyatt elites. It’s good to not have a car in New York but when I do it is a slight annoyance that there is no valet parking.

  14. @Always Flyin – as others have commented, YMMV. I’m a Marriott Plat, and Marriott Marquis Times Square front desk tried to sell me an upgrade to a suite (April 2017) for $200 / night, or a “view room” at $100 / night. I escalated and the manager told me “we can’t give all the nice rooms away, otherwise we won’t make money.” (Indeed, 1892 rooms and I’m sure they’re flat broke.)

    I called Marriott Rewards and had them shame the manager into giving us a complementary upgrade, since his upsell violated program terms. As apparent retribution, the hotel told Citibank that I only stayed 2 nights, so that I couldn’t redeem the 4th night free benefit. Luckily, I save my receipts.

    But the general rule at Marriotts is: you need to ask. I get about 60% of my upgrades to suites after asking, but very few of them will proactively upgrade you request it.

  15. I think in general, Marriotts in the US are not proactive in providing upgrade, much less to a suite. I got much more luck with suite upgrades here in Canada. As a data point I recently stayed in Marriott Brooklyn and had to plead for it. I asked for a suite upgrade and they offered to sell it for $150 extra per night. It didn’t make sense so I came back a few times until they finally agreed to give it to me for the last 2 nights of my stay.

  16. That suite looks sad, too much beige and cremes. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if their furniture and decor choices were good, but that seems to be not the case. It looks like an airport hotel room like someone else mentioned here.

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