“Why are you staying at the Radisson?” Mike asked when we met him in New York on a recent trip. Fair question sir, and there are two good reasons. The first is that we wanted to keep costs low as possible. We booked a mistake fare and burned some miles to get there. The only way we can continue with these impromptu trips around the world is by making these trips as inexpensive as possible. Redeeming points is one such a way to keep costs low. As part of the best hotel promotion of last year, the Sherpa and Sherpstress netted 50,000+ points for $60 stays in Bangkok last year.
But that presents a problem given that our taste level has changed. We shopped around the New York metro for a hotel on a Wednesday night in early January and found prices between $250-350 for rooms we would actually want to stay in. We needed something with a fairly central Manhattan address because we would be in the city just 23 hours and 40 minutes, spending time on a long subway commute to save money was not a good value to us.
It was the perfect time to redeem points, and it allowed us to try something a little different. This property was formerly an independent hotel then purchased by Radisson. It has a great history, but more than anything else, it served our needs.
While I am Club Carlson Gold thanks to a status match, I was told the room was not ready due a repair on the television when we arrived. The receptionist could have been friendlier. We had arrived at the hotel just after 2pm and had plans to meet Mike and Rocky in the early evening. We decided to leave our bags and go see some of the city (you can see more about our day in this post). When we were able to check in to our room we were quite impressed with what we found.
There was a good sized lounge with a 42 inch TV opposite the couch and a number of chairs and tables. For my first time in New York city it was nice to see some of the hallmarks that I would expect in a city as prestigious as New York. One such hallmark was the french doors leading to the bedroom. Most hotel suites have a separating door (though not all do) but the French doors were a nice touch and let me work in peace while the Sherpstress used the hairdryer.
The bedroom had the amenities that you would expect in a modern hotel. Easily controlled heating and cooling, an iPod alarm clock, and a nice sized TV in the bedroom that unfortunately was never fixed and the source of our delay. I was surprised that the hotel refused our early checkin (an inconvenience for our short schedule) to fix the TV but then allowed us to stay in the room without actually fixing it. It wasn’t the end of the world because we were just there overnight. However, for 50,000 points (their top tier category) and $60 in cash I would have been pretty disappointed if we were there on a longer stay.
The bed was clean and comfortable, but the veiw from the windows (bedroom and lounge) were disappointing. In this blog I try to avoid snobbery. I always view travel as a privilege and an experience every time. For any readers who have stayed in Asian hotels though, it can kind of ruin you. One pet peeve I have is the American tradition of the “shower over tub”. I’m not sure I want to meet the person that is taking an actual bath in one of these so why not just move to showers alone. It provides more room and removes the nasty curtain from groping your body while you are trying to clean it. How many other poor souls has that curtain groped while taking a shower and when was the last time it was cleaned? You get the idea. The bathroom was otherwise nice enough, but nothing more than a typical American hotel bathroom. For comparison sake, here is a Club Carlson property in Bangkok that features both shower and tub and set us back less than $70, list price on this hotel room in New York was over $400 for the night we selected.
One of the features of this upgrade was that we would have access to the executive lounge, something that we often use when at other hotel chains. In the previous Club Carlson properties this was something we had not been invitied to see, so we took the opportunity. At the Bali Hyatt, there was a combination of hot and cold food availble, unlimited drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), entertainment, servers, and newspapers. In Kuala Lumpur at the Le Meridien there was a ton of food choices, a concierge, and computers out to use with stunnning views of the city. We had our hopes up considering this lounge had it’s own floor!
This is what the exectuive club looked like:
Pretty exclusive right? This mildew nightmare had a floor all to itself for a reason – quarantine. It would have been better to just drop the nameplate off the directory and disable the button on the elevator. We had a peek around and found some year old jam hidden in a cabinet, we quickly vacated the super elite executive lounge. In the Sherpa’s humble opinion, it just seemed like a bit of deception that they sold us a suite with a non-working TV and access to the “executive lounge” which actually showed up as a line item on the bill, with this as a result. The Sherpa reached out to Club Carlson on Twitter who made a cheeky remark that we should be excited to have the place to ourselves. The reception offered us free breakfast the following morning after they found out we went up to the lounge and had to clarify that we were indeed on the right floor. Breakfast the next morning was really quite good, and we were thankful they offered because it was all we had to eat before we flew to Tokyo.
In retrospect, while the location just two blocks from Penn Station and walking distance from Broadway and Chelsea we would probably stay there again on a short break.
But if we had more than 24 hours there are better ways to spend your 50,000 Club Carlson points and $60. More than anything else though, it is always great to have a tiny stockpile of miles to use when you would like to avoid dropping $300 on a 23 hour stay.
Regardless, I believe the Sherpa has unfortunately crossed over to the dark side and become a hotel snob. To keep me in check, did any of you think this looked like a top tier hotel?