Overview: A NYC-style boutique luxury hotel
Strengths: Location, quality of furnishings, dining [and the spa]
Drawbacks: Service lapses in the “Drawing Room” and elsehwere, hallway noise coming into guest rooms
(See bottom for a brief note on our extraordinary meal at Jungsik!)
Backed by Robert DeNiro (among others), New York City’s “The Greenwich Hotel” has been well acclaimed in the press. One could easily how much of the favorable media attention was due to the backer. Also, the top suite at the hotel (which garners a fair bit of press) appears quite noteworthy – but it is in no way indicative of any other room at the property.
While we left pleased with our experience, there were parts of our experience which definitely left room for improvement. This property easily ranks well ahead of Boston’s XV Hotel, but our stay fell well short of my experience at Washington DC’s Capella Hotel. Let’s begin…
Earlier this month, my wife and I spent a night at The Greenwich Hotel. I’d wanted to stay here for some time, and a dinner planned at Jongsik (three blocks away) (more on the dinner below) provided the catalyst for the booking.
The property is located at the corner of Greenwich Street and North More Street. Located in the southern part of Tribeca, the property is diagonally across the street from Citibank’s investment bank tower. For those not familiar with the city, Tribeca is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It really has a special feel to it – with a good mix of family things and slightly edgier grown-up things. (I do a fair bit of business in my day job with Citi – that adjacency might have diminished a bit of the charm of the location for me.)
We arrived in our own car, pulling up in front of the hotel on Greenwich Street. A valet from the hotel was standing on the sidewalk, but all the parking in front of the hotel (in a marked “Hotel Zone”) was full so we double parked. The valet’s “uniform” was so casual that I wondered a bit if he actually worked for the hotel. He had a print out of all of the day’s arrivals which he took out to check my name. Seeing this list put me at ease, as I did wonder for a minute if the individual was a hotel valet, or just a guy who wanted a car. (The “rogue valet” scenario actually played out up at Sparks Steakhouse in midtown some years ago.)
Check-in was handled without delay. We had booked via a Virtuoso agent, but other than handing us an envelope saying “your amenities are shown in here,” there was no other mention of the program, no mention of an upgrade (possibility or even lack thereof) nor any offer of late check-out.
The gentlemen at the front desk who checked us in escorted us to our room and showed us around the rather small sized room. While the room was small, it was not out of line with standards for many NYC hotels. We were assigned a room on the second floor, facing the back of the building (and looking into apartments behind the building). It was a bit disappointing to be on the lowest floor of rooms, though perhaps the exterior noise level was lower because we were not facing the street.
That said, our main issue with the room was the complete lack of sound barrier between the room and the corridor. Even whispered conversations out in the hall could be heard in our room, and footsteps from the hallway also echoed very clearly into our room. While I know the hotel is working in tight quarters, they can do better on this.
The bed in the room was comfortable. The room also had a small love seat and individual chair. Both were comfortable. Food and drinks (other than alcohol) from the minibar are included with the room rate. This is a nice touch.
The bathroom was well appointed, in a NYC sort of way. There was no separate toilet room nor tub. The shower, however, was reasonably large and unusually powerful for a hotel. (There was no regulator holding the water back.) I enjoy long, hot showers and was very pleased. The toiletries were also of very good quality.
On the same floor as the main lobby, the hotel has what they call the “drawing room,” which is a guests-only lounge and bar. On the surface, this was quite a comfortable room, with a large fireplace and comfortable sofas and chairs. There was a small bar and full meal service was also available.
Having a guests-only area, particularly in a city hotel, can be a welcome respite. Several groups came in and sat in the drawing room, but were chased away for not being house guests. I appreciate that the staff pro-actively enforced this policy. The Capella DC also has a small guests-only area, though the Greenwich’s is much larger and more comfortable.
While the room was large, it was organized into perhaps six sitting areas, most with a large sofa and some chairs – room enough for five or six people. One time when we arrived, all but one of these large sitting areas was taken, but each by a single individual. Across several visits, it was very rare to see any more than two people in any one sitting area. The hotel might benefit from reconfiguring the room to include several additional, smaller sitting areas.
Beyond the inefficient layout, service in the drawing room was very disappointing. One time we sat down and despite the waitress walking right past us and going to stand idle at the bar, we were not offered any service. I ultimately walked over to the bar and asked for help. While we were having our cocktails, the waitress and a bus boy were stocking the ice in the bar. While I understand ice needs to be stocked, the pouring and then shuffling of ice was unusually loud and lasted for a number minutes. This loud noise completely took over the room and made conversation difficult. Frankly, the disregard for the ambience in the room killed the mood and we settled our bill after one round and went to a different bar for more drinks.
The next day, we also experienced slow, disinterested service in the drawing room. (Within hours of checking out, I was sent an email survey about our stay. I completed the survey, noting this repeated service issue, as well as the room noise considerations. The GM subsequently emailed to apologize and noted that several staff members in the drawing room were new. That’s an unacceptable excuse, but at least the GM was thoughtful enough to reply.)
We ate breakfast at Locanda Verde, which is the hotel’s restaurant. It is much more of a neighborhood restaurant, which just happens to be in the hotel. The vast majority (95%?) of patrons at the restaurant were not from the hotel. It is good to see a hotel restaurant that is good enough to principally attract locals and we were very pleased with the menu.
The brunch menu was certainly non-traditional. I had “Scampi and Grits,” which was served with with organic polenta, tomato, sausage and sunny side eggs. My wife had “Uova Modenese”, which was served with some sort of hash, spinach and tomato hollandaise. Both were excellent. This was not “hotel food” in the traditional sense.
I asked about a room charge for the bill (to take advantage of the Virtuoso breakfast benefit). They were able to accommodate the request, but clearly room charges were something that didn’t happen often!
I called down to the front desk at noon to arrange for our car to be brought around for a 12:45pm departure. I was immediately – and sternly – reminded that check out time was noon. I pointed out that we were booked under a Virtuoso package which includes late check-out. (I am aware that Virtuoso’s late check outs aren’t guaranteed. Only Amex FHR offers guaranteed late check out amongst the high-end hotel programs, and I do book via FHR if a late check-out is essential for my travel.) The person who I was speaking to went on to say that late check outs are only possible if confirmed when checking in.
I wasn’t asked about needing a late check out when I checked in, which I pointed out. If a 45 minute late check out is too difficult to offer to Virtuoso guests, perhaps the hotel should leave the program. At a minimum, if pre-confirming a late check out is somehow essential at this hotel, the front desk should discuss the matter upon check in.
In any event, I ended the call simply by saying we’d be down in a little while and asked the agent again to bring my car around.
Though not catastrophic, and perhaps a little more acceptable in the context of a downtown Manhattan hotel, this service experience was another example of being off from the standard I would expect.
Our bill was in order, and the Virtuoso breakfast credit was applied without my asking. Our car was waiting and while we completed the brief formalities at the desk, our light luggage was loaded into our car.
* * * * *
Below street level, the hotel has an indoor pool, gym and spa. Time was tight and we didn’t make it down to visit these unfortunately. I understand from others that the spa is one of the top spas in the City. I’ll make a point to visit and will share my thoughts. Alas, by not visiting the spa, we forfeited a $100 spa credit with our Virtuoso package.
* * * * *
Our reason for staying at this hotel was to be close to Jungsik, where we had dinner. Jungsik is a Korean restaurant with two Michelin stars. It is located two streets south of the hotel.
We had the tasting menu, which included an extravagant amuse, followed by courses of caviar, scallops, octopus, red mullet, truffle bulgogi and a small waygu tenderloin. Dessert was a mont blanc (and while not bad, perhaps the low-light of the experience).
In addition to their normal wine pairings, I was aware that they had an off-menu premium wine pairing option, which we partially selected. We were very pleased with the wine offerings, which included a number of unusual producers.
Our pairings included Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne (NV), Trimback Clos St. Hune Reisling (2007), Vermentino Terenzuolo (2014), Chateau de Tracy Pouilly-Fume (2013), Marcassin Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2009), Yvese Cuilleron St. Joseph Syrah (2012) and Broadbent Colheita Madeira (1996). Of note, the Trimback Clos St. Hune was a particularly remarkable Reisling.
Overall, the meal, wines and service were all extraordinary.
Dinner (and the wine pairings) ended up costing more than our stay at the Greenwich. The meal, however, was so very worth the cost. While I wouldn’t eat here every day, I’ll certainly plan to return to Jongsik. Ideally it will be when someone else is paying!
The Greenwich Hotel
377 Greenwich Street (at North Moore Street)
New York, New York 10013
Tel. 212 941 8900
2 Harrison Street (at Hudson Street)
New York, NY 10013
Tel. 212 219 0900