Overview: A decent midtown hotel with particularly spacious rooms
Advantages: Rooms are some of the largest in NYC; good views from upper floors, midtown-west location will be beneficial to some; dining
Drawbacks: Some staff a bit surly (and I’m from NY!); park views are only partial; furnishings in rooms
Notable: An Avis car rental location is located in the hotel and a Hertz location is immediately next door
Located between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, the hotel that is the London NYC holds a lot of memories for me. Many years ago (mid-1990s), I used to work in the office building next door and we drank and ate at this hotel often after work. On late work nights, the company would even pay for us to stay here if we wanted. Needless to say, I got to know the property and its staff quite well.
Back then, the hotel was known as the Rihga Royal Hotel, and was the sole US outpost of a Japanese chain of generally 4-star hotels. The hotel’s restaurant, then called Halcyon, even had a points program, called the Halcyon Society. While there are no more Rihga-flagged properties in the US, the flag is alive and well in many cities in Japan.
In a points arbitrage of the type no longer available today, their program provided that if you spent $1,500 in the restaurant, you earned enough points for two nights in one of their 1,500+ square feet presidential suites. Back then, the suites cost $3,000 per night. I cashed in my 1,500 points for two nights which I used for my wedding night and the night before pre-party.
Despite countless stays before I was married, I hadn’t stayed at this property since my wedding night. Earlier this month, I had a dinner event to attend at the Hilton (across the street) and meetings the following morning in Philadelphia. So, rather than head back home to Connecticut only to re-trace my steps to head to Philadelphia, I decided to spend the night to see how the property had evolved.
The property is not in Virtuoso, so I had just a regular booking. I arrived a little after five in the evening via taxi. There were several doormen, though none made any effort to help me with my bags or to hold the door. When I approached the front desk, the agent staffing the desk welcomed me with the cordial greeting of, “Last name?” Wow! Not a hello or welcome or anything. I presented my ID and credit card, made a point to say hello, then gave her my last name.
In a rather curt and robotic manner, I was told that room service was 24 hours, the gym was on the floor, that the minibar was automatic by weight and that my room was on the 48th floor. At least she covered the essentials.
I found my way to the elevators and up to my room.
This room, like all at this hotel, was a full suite. The living room, however, was relatively unadorned, with an uncomfortable sofa, a desk, a minibar credenza, a coffee table and a wall mounted TV. There was no art on the walls and even only one substantive lamp. Though spacious, the living room was a disappointment the way it was furnished and didn’t feel well looked after.
The living room only had one overhead light and small desk lamp. This was woefully inadequate.
There were even network ports in the wall that served no other purpose but to visibly connect to other network ports. I can’t say I’ve seen such a wiring job anywhere, and certainly not in a hotel room costing upwards of $700 per night!
The bedroom was slightly more fully furnished, but oddly did not have a closet. In the old days, the rooms at this hotel included a closet. While these visible clothes racks may be somehow stylish, few object to a large closet in a hotel room. The suite (and bedroom within the suite) was more than large enough to accommodate a proper closet.
The bed was very comfortable.
The room had a handy bed-side power base. (Take note, Waldorf Chicago!)
The drapes in the living room and bedroom were power controlled. The switches for the drapes were next to each window, so you couldn’t control things from bed. There were also small lights above the curtains which could be turned on.
When the blackout shades were closed, the room did indeed become perfectly dark. Despite being on the 48th floor, there was still some street noise evident in the room.
When the shades were open, the suite provided panoramic views of midtown, and a glimpse of the park!
The bathroom was off of the foyer, and required walking from the bedroom, through the living room, all the way to just before the room’s entry door. Though it only had a stand up shower (with room for two users, in fact), the bathroom was probably the highlight of the room. It was clean, fresh and well lit. The setup for the shower, having two shower heads, was a nice treat (though not needed for my visit!). The placement of the bathroom, just off the foyer, was odd and was different than where it was prior to the renovations.
I ordered breakfast via telephone the night before and my order arrived exactly at the time requested. Though by no means an exotic order, everything I had was of very good quality.
Though I did not eat here this time, the Gordon Ramsay restaurant in the lobby is also fairly well regarded. It is the sort of place that people who are not hotel guests would actually visit.
I cleaned up and checked out shortly after breakfast.
Check-out was relatively uneventful. The agent staffing the desk was marginally more friendly than the agent who checked me in. My bill was in order and I took a printed copy.
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While a short stay, and with some perhaps unmemorable service, the LondonNYC represents an interesting value play in the set of NYC hotels. It is a solid four-star hotel. It didn’t seem at risk of getting to a fifth star, but it remains solidly in the four-star category. While there is no longer a points angle from the restaurant or any other loyalty program, the hotel offers some of the largest rooms (all suites) in the city. They have rates starting as low as $299 (plus taxes and fees per night). This is for an entry-level suite, which is still a fully divided, two room suite. For those who need or want a little extra space during a stay in New York, this property worth considering.
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To the immediate west of the hotel is a local bar called Faces & Names. The bar is over 20 years old and I’ve found it to be consistently very friendly over the years. It is also one of the more reasonably priced watering holes in the Midtown West area. If you’re in the neighborhood and a bit parched, it’s worth stopping in!
The London NYC
151 W 54th Street, New York, NY 10019