As soon as I had heard that I made it into the NYC Marathon (through the lottery), I started looking into hotels. I knew NYC hotels were expensive and due to the marathon, would be in demand even more than at other times of the year. So, about nine months before the big day I began searching for hotels based on a bunch of specific criteria.
I wanted to be fairly close to the NYC marathon finish–as I knew after running 26.2 miles, I wouldn’t want to walk far. I also wanted to be close to the New York Public Library because the marathon buses would pick up there to get the runners to the start line. I wanted to be within walking distance of the Javitz Center–the home of the NYC marathon expo.
And, I knew that I would be traveling with my kids and my mom (four in total) and wanted to be somewhere central, simple—with plenty of room and no bed bugs!.
The Hilton Garden Inn at West 35th St. met all of my requirements.
The HGI is located about 200 feet from the corner of W 35th and 6th Ave—right next to the world’s most amazing Macys, right above Penn Station, and less than a block from 5th Ave. There are tons of restaurants, shops right near the hotel—including a really good Indian restaurant (which I’ll review in a later post). This was perfect for us because my mom is not that adventurous and there were going to be times that she would have to leave the hotel alone. Being right next to Macy’s, pizza, and a Starbucks made it easier.
We were all flying into JFK and getting to the hotel from that airport could not be any easier. We took the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station. For about $11.00 per person, we boarded a comfortable train and had a nice (mostly above ground) train ride. Just about the time the kids were getting bored with the ride (about 35 minutes), we arrived at our stop. Perfect!
The hotel rooms in NYC are small. They all are. It is part of the charm of the city. Our room had two double beds, a desk, TV and stand, and a microwave, refrigerator, and a coffeemaker. I felt that for the size they had made the best of the space and it didn’t feel cramped or uncomfortable. It was very clean—since it has only been open a year. (No bed bugs!) And the beds were super comfortable (oh, they have a dial on each bed so you can chose the firmness you prefer–the kids loved this feature).
There was a tiny closet and an even tinier closet that held the ironing board and iron. One perk was the coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave in the room. Our last NYC hotel (The Roosevelt) did not have these amenities. I thought their use of space was very clever.
The view was nothing special—just NYC buildings, but it was just what we wanted. A view of the city. (The first picture shows you what we saw….)
The lobby was tiny. Really– there was only a couple of couches and a couple of chairs—not a destination at all–but a quick meet-up- and- go spot. (The Roosevelt Hotel had a beautiful lobby. One that you wanted to sit in and just relax.) Even though it was small, the lobby was pleasant enough with free hot chocolate, coffee, and really good apple cider.
We got free breakfast as part of the package that I had booked—and it was such a nice way to start the morning. We were able to go down and get a couple of pastries and bagels for the kids and eat them in our rooms. Business travelers may want to indulge in the hot breakfast in their restaurant. It always looked good but we were always on our way out for adventures.
My only complaint was with the concierge. I called down a couple of times to ask specific questions about shuttles and taxis and was told to just come down and hail one myself. While I don’t mind doing that, I thought the concierge is supposed to help with things like that. Maybe I am wrong but I just got the feeling that because I wasn’t asking for fancy dining reservations–they didn’t have the time for me.
In summary, if you need a clean, convenient place to stay in Midtown—the Hilton Garden Inn on West 35th St. is perfect. Just don’t ask the concierge for anything and you will happy as a clam.
Pros: Clean rooms, convenient location, comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast with some types of stays, very nice waitstaff in restaurant, well laid out rooms.
Cons: Concierge staff. No safe in rooms (or if there was, we couldn’t find it)