New York Stories #6 – Hilton premium reward ‘special pricing’ at Conrad New York

I wrote about the Conrad Hotel in New York last year (hotel website here).  The hotel had some good points but, overall, it didn’t fully work for me.  But now I was back!  Why?

Here is most practical reason.  I was sitting on a large pile of Hilton HHonors points.  I had converted some Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton last year for a redemption which we ended up cancelling.  I wanted to use them up if I could.

Conrad New York lobby

Secondly, the hotel does have a lot going for it:

It is new

Even the smallest rooms are a huge 43 square metres and are arranged as suites

Free breakfast as I am Hilton Gold

Free internet as I am Hilton Gold

24 hour free business centre with 3 good quality PC’s in it – helpful for working on this site

I was in a different part of the building this year and did not have to walk down the almost unlit (they think it’s arty) corridors as my room was overlooking the huge atrium.

I also got an upgrade to a 70 square metre suite, but more on that later.

Hilton HHonors and ‘Premium Room Rewards’

When Hilton HHonors was massively devalued in 2013, one sop was the introduction of ‘Premium Room Rewards’.  These allowed you to redeem for effectively any room in any hotel.  The downside was the value for money you got – it worked out at under 0.2p per Hilton point.

During early 2014, though, Hilton seemed to pull back a bit.  Some hotels started struggling because no-one could afford to redeem there (some hotels jumped from 50,000 points to 95,000 points) and, in big tourist cities, redemptions were a big part of their business.

Hilton did not let struggling properties drop down a reward category or two, making them cheaper.  What has happened is that some properties now have occasional special deals on ‘Premium Room Rewards’.  My Conrad New York room was one of these.

A standard room last Saturday would have cost you $299 + 15% tax or 70,000 points.  That is 0.49 cents per point, roughly in line with my often quoted 0.3p per point valuation.

My ‘Premium Room Reward’ was for a Riverview Suite.  This was selling for $329 + tax, or just 65,500 points!  It was cheaper than booking a standard suite!  Not only that, but it was only one level below a corner ‘Premier Suite’ and I thought I might get upgraded to this as a Hilton Gold.  (I was.  It was 70 sq m and very pleasant!).

At $329 + tax, I was getting 0.58 cents per point (0.34p) which is a decent deal under the new regime.

The ‘Premium Room Reward’ I booked was flagged as a special offer online.  If I check now for, say, Saturday 2nd August, the special offer has gone.  On that day, a Riverview Suite is $299 + tax or 83,719 points.  This is a poor 0.41 cents, or 0.24p per point.

Conrad New York photos

Here are a couple of shots of my ‘Premier Suite’.  The extra space (70 sq m vs 43 sq m for a normal suite) is all in the dressing area (not pictured) and the larger living room.  The bedroom and bathroom are almost identical to the standard suites as far as I can remember.  The bathroom could have been a lot bigger – it is not clear on the picture but the bath is effectively square and it is impossible to lay down!

There are some other pictures of the hotel in my post from last year.

Conrad New York living area

Conrad New York bedroom

Conrad New York bathroom

As construction on 1 World Trade Centre winds down, the access route to the subway from the hotel is getting easier. It is still a 5 minute trot to get to it, but the upside is that you are walkable to huge number of lines across a few different stations.

The Battery Place shopping and restaurant mall (Brookfield Place) will also fully reopen soon and will be directly connected to the World Trade Centre site, cutting out the need to cross 6 lanes of highway to reach the subway!

Even as it stands, you won’t go hungry here. There is a Shake Shack in the building (and a cinema!) plus a 24 hour bagel place which actually sells quite a lot more besides. The covered mini-mall outside the hotel also has a deli / supermarket and 3-4 other restaurants.

To be honest, in Summer, Soho House would be my preferred choice because of the outdoor rooftop pool and location. On a short trip without my wife, though, it was difficult to justify the cost – especially as I had the Hilton points to use up. The Conrad and I are now on better terms with each other and I would definitely use it again.

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Yeah, I stayed for 4 paid nights in June, never again. I thought it was crap for the money paid. HH Gold too, no upgrade, no newspapers, check in took half hour, staff are surly, the restaurant is like some grubby diner with all male wait staff all over 50yo. I ordered ice, twice, first time it took 49 minutes, second time 55 minutes. I even offered to come and get it, but no, they wouldn’t have it. I was majorly disappointed and feel it lets down the Conrad brand. I have stayed at Conrad’s in HKG, BRU, BKK, MACAO and all of them pee all over this one. First thing I would do is overhaul the staff, get rid of the lot that are there now and get some who like their jobs and genuinely care about the guests. In Australia we have a colloquialism: Big Wank. Conrad NYC fits the bill beautifully

    • Newspapers – I had a fight here too. Appararently you only get one if your HH profile is set to ‘local newspaper’. Most international visitors will not have this set as, for eg, I have no interest in a French language paper in Paris. They also do not get enough for all rooms and work down from the top.

      Gabriel the concierge always has some on his desk though.

      I thought the restaurant staff at breakfast were good. Front desk was, I admit, often deserted!

      My bottom line is that the rooms are great in size and quality and I trade off the other stuff ….

  2. George says:

    You mention your Soho House preference – are there redemption opportunities for that? I have found its pricetag restrictive (I am not a member, so no discount applies) but would love to explore it at some point…

    • No – it may be on BA’s ‘book hotels with Avios’ but effectively you are just selling BA your points for 0.5p and they use the money to book the hotel.

  3. Do you have any insight into which mid range hotels are decent in NYC Rob?

    • Jamie P says:

      I would recommend any of the Kimpton hotels. I have stayed at the Eventi a few times in particular and would highly recommend. The staff are fantastic and the rooms give great views.

      • If staying at a Kimpton remember to join their loyalty programme – even as a Base member it’s worthwhile for the free Internet and minibar credit :) Sadly a small number of properties overall so difficult to hit the stay requirements for higher tiers.

        • I stayed at the Kimpton in Chicago and was very impressed, there was free wine and pizza every evening in their lounge which was available to all guests, joined their loyalty programme when I checked in got the free internet and minibar credit even though I hadn’t made the booking via their website.

    • Not that I can personally recommend from a recent stay.

      In general, a decent way to save is to stay in New Jersey and take the PATH train into Manhattan (one stop). There is a Hyatt in New Jersey on the waterfront facing Manhattan which is built above the PATH station and will drop you at World Trade Centre in about 2 minutes – this is usually a decent price. In fact, it is probably quicker to WTC than the walk from the Conrad … A few minutes walk away is a Candlewood Suites I used once, there is a W over there now as well I think.

      Over a weekend, the Wall Street hotels (new Holiday Inn, new Andaz) are substantially reduced for obvious reasons, even though the express subway lines gets you to midtown in 3-4 stops.

      Remember that you can buy 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points for $350 via the ‘cash and points and cancel’ trick which gets you the InterContinental Times Square – which is very smart. This means there is no point paying more £200 per night (£175 exc tax) for anything worse than that.