My review of the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel

This is my review of the newly reopened InterContinental New York Barclay hotel.

The re-opening of the InterContinental New York Barclay following a lengthy renovation means that the city now boasts two InterContinental hotels again.  I had stayed at the InterContinental Barclay once before but my four most recent New York trips involved the Conrad New York (review of my first stay of two) and the InterContinental Times Square (review).

The InterContinental New York Barclay reopened three weeks before I was due back in town, so I booked myself in.  This is what I found.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel

Nestled just south of the Waldorf Astoria and a couple of blocks north of Grand Central Station, the Barclay is one of the grande dame New York hotels dating from 1926.  It even has a memorabilia cabinet:

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel

Unlike its Times Square sister, the InterContinental New York Barclay has a large open plan lobby as you enter.  To the left is check in (this photo is taken from the bar):

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel lobby

and to the right is the bar.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel bar

Oddly, the Barclay hotel does not have a proper restaurant.  Food is served at tables at the back of the bar, and this is also where you would have breakfast, but it is minimal.  It is basically a gastro-pub!  If more than 20% of guests decided to have breakfast in the hotel then I think they would be in trouble.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel restaurant

This is the modest breakfast buffet spread:

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel breakfast

The Barclay has club lounge on the ground floor, behind the bar.  It wasn’t yet open when I visited but I had a look around:

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel club lounge


Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel club lounge

It is an impressive space and surprisingly large given the modest scale of the main bar and restaurant.

I was told that access to the lounge would be $150 + tax per day if you hadn’t booked a club room.  As I obviously haven’t seen the food and drink on offer I can’t judge whether that is good value or not.  Being in the centre of New York there is obviously no shortage of other places to eat and drink nearby so it really depends on what you are looking for from a lounge.

I never ate in the hotel so I can’t pass judgement on what they offer.

One interesting side effect of the new ownership by the Qatar Investment Authority is that Qatari newspapers are freely available in the hotel, alongside free copies of the New York Times.

Check in

This all started a little oddly.  The InterContinental New York Barclay is currently offering Superior, Deluxe, Premium and Executive Rooms for redemption at the same 60,000 points per night.

As the Executive Rooms are the largest, I booked one of those.  With my automatic Ambassador upgrade, I expected a Barclay King with special artwork and “custom toiletries delicately scented with The Barclay’s own signature fragrance by Caswell-Massey”.

Except this isn’t what I got.  The artwork looked the same as in the standard rooms, as were the toiletries.  I arrived so late that I left it, but next day I went back to the desk and casually asked what room category my room was.  “Barclay King” I was told.  Judging by the description, it wasn’t.

Let’s go back to my Ambassador benefits.  (I wrote about the InterContinental Ambassador benefits scheme here if you are not familiar with it.)

When I checked in I was told I was getting 1,500 IHG Rewards Club points as an amenity.  No discussion.  I then went online and found that I was meant to have been given a choice of amenities.  I raised this at the desk the next day and suddenly 2 x $20 drinks vouchers were given to me.  This is a substantial improvement on 1,500 points!  You can get a cocktail for $20 and I managed to have a pleasant hour in the bar!

There is apparently no Pay TV here so the Ambassador ‘free pay TV film’ benefit is moot.  The Barclay is also claiming that the amenity replaces your guaranteed free fruit benefit.  This is nonsense but I wasn’t prepared to fight them for a free fruit bowl.

There is still substantial work to be done here to sort out Ambassador benefits.  I am not alone in having problems.  The good news is that the 4pm check-out was granted without any trouble.  This is a guaranteed benefit but I still expected some grief from them by that point!

There is no pool.  The fitness centre was still closed on my visit but passes were available for the gym directly opposite the hotel.

My room

Here are a few images of my Barclay King.

These are corner rooms overlooking the street.  This had huge benefits in terms of light.  The Barclay hotel is surrounded on two sides by taller buildings so there is a real risk in some rooms that you are looking directly into a wall or a window.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel room

Even for a room FIVE categories up the price list, it still wasn’t huge.  It is worth nothing that Times Square has bigger standard rooms than the InterContinental New York Barclay and, as Time Square is a skyscraper, you will have far better views as well in most cases.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel bedroom

See the desk above?  Do you see the plug sockets?  No.  There aren’t any.  Someone decided to spend $175m rebuilding a hotel and forgot to put in plug sockets.  Under the desk are two sockets but one is used for the desk light and the other is used for the telephone.  I ended up unplugging the telephone in order to plug in my laptop.

Review of InterContinental New York Barclay hotel bathroom

The bathroom is also not huge.  Despite being five room categories up the list you still only get a single sink.  Toiletries were the usual IC Agraria ones and not the special ‘Barclay Room’ ones promised.

What I didn’t photo is the cheap coffee machine in the room.  Or the paper cups they provide with it.  Or the lack of real milk.


At the end of this review of the InterContinental New York Barclay, how do I feel about it?

As with the Times Square hote, the Barclay is basically an upmarket bed factory.  There are few places to sit and watch the world go by (Times Square, to be fair, is far worse than the Barclay where the lobby is like an apartment block foyer).  The bar is small and you don’t even get a proper restaurant!  There is no pool.

Now I know some readers will say ‘well, it’s New York, you aren’t meant to sit around the hotel’.  For a lot of visitors, though, that simply isn’t the case (and if it is the case, why pay a premium for a luxury five star?).  You may want to meet friends, relax between bouts of shopping or simply prefer the warmth and security of your hotel compared to wandering around outside trying to find somewhere decent.  You don’t get that here.

Don’t get me wrong.  A huge amount of money has been spent on the rooms and the public areas.  On points, the InterContinental New York Barclay is arguably better value at 60,000 points than a Holiday Inn at 40,000 points.  This is especially true if they continue to offer larger Executive Rooms on points.

I may go back, because the 4pm guaranteed check-out for Ambassador members is important in New York where your flight home will be an evening one.  I know I’ll get a modern room, if nothing else.  Unless the club lounge turns out to be something special, I just won’t be going back with a huge amount of enthusiasm.

The InterContinental New York Barclay website is here if you want to find out more.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Thanks for the review Rob.

    I’ve been looking forward to the reopening, but reading your review (and from the photos) it sounds somewhat disappointing.
    I’m a fan of the IC TS (I know not everyone likes it), and don’t mind the lack of public areas (the small lounge area they do have is nice and cosy). I do like the rooms and I love the views (I’ve only ever stayed in Sky view rooms and suits thanks to generous Ambassador upgrades) plus the subway location under the hotel is handy.

    I may try the Barclays sometime for the sake of it, but can’t say it sounds like a better bet than the TS property.

  2. BillyBoy says:

    I stayed at this hotel about 4 ? years ago and absolutely hated it.

    Check-in was chaotic, with them telling us we would have to move rooms halfway way through our 3 night stay, NO record of my then Platinum status and a room on a low floor overlooking noisy aircon units.

    I have honestly had a better time at Preston South Holiday Inn Express (comfy room, great staff, and fabulous local sausages for breakfast !!)

    I sincerely wish the IC Barclay all the worst !

  3. Was here 3/4 years back. Lobby looks the same. They moved me to another room then another one (a suite at this point) due to the water in sink not draining…

  4. Yes a disappointing review all though I have no reason to doubt the contents! I was really disappointed with IC TS and I thought the HfP review of that was spot on – bed factory sums it up. Was hoping the Barclay might be better on the public space front which I’m sure it is but even so – would have been happier to find a better way than this to spend IHG points in NYC.

    • I’ve used IHG points on two occasions to stay in the Crowne Plaza Times Square. I found this to be a great hotel. Got upgraded on first stay due to being Platinum member but on second stay we were told the hotel was almost full so no upgrade. Both rooms were great.

      The hotel is busy but the bar is a nice place to relax and has decent food. As the bar is one level up from the street it is a good place to sit and look out on Broadway.

  5. I was under the impression that Ambassador benefits weren’t guaranteed on reward bookings?

    • Genghis says:

      “Ambassador Benefits: A room one category higher than purchased will be assigned upon check-in to InterContinental Ambassadors. InterContinental Ambassadors will be entitled to a late check-out time of 4:00 pm. Ambassadors receive fresh fruit and water in their room on arrival, with mineral water replenished daily. Ambassadors receive a personalised welcome letter and in-room gift. Ambassadors are entitled to one free Pay-TV film per stay (where a cost is applicable).

      When staying on Reward Nights, all Ambassador and Royal Ambassador Privileges apply with the exception of upgrades, free Pay-TV film per stay, 24-hour guaranteed room availability, 8:00 am early check-in and complimentary mini-bar beverages (where a cost for these benefits is applicable). Ambassadors are charged Single Rate for Double Room Occupancy. Any Club Lounge access given to Ambassadors is solely at the discretion of the hotel and is not a benefit that is included in Ambassador status.”

    • In theory true, in reality almost all ICs give them. I have never been refused.

  6. O/t my mum has 2 free nights from last year’s accelerate that she won’t be able to use. Can she use them to book rooms for someone else (me!)? I could have a weekend break at the IHG in Madrid, Dublin or London. Any suggestions not to waste them

    • Genghis says:

      IIRC there was mention previously of issues of checking into a Spanish hotel and the person who made the booking not being one of the guests.

    • Not Madrid – Spanish law means the named guest (Mum) must show. Fine elsewhere, book for 2 and put yourself as named 2nd guest.

    • If you share a common surname, just get her to use an initial when she books. See – if you are A- & she is (say) Z-
      – if she can book it under initial Z
      – if not, can she book it under initials Z A?

  7. Andi Hawes says:

    i appreciate this is a side issue here, but are Spire Members meant to get reward points, free drink and other things at ICs? i stayed at the O2 last week and they didnt give me anything. Upon enquiring, they said they were not aware of such benefits…

    • I got zilch as an Ambassador in terms of welcome gift there! Some hotels are good to Plat / Spire eg Le Grand in Paris.

      • I am Spire but without any Ambassador status and I recently stayed at Le Grand Paris , I received a room upgrade , a bowl of fruit a plate of cookies and a couple of bottles of fruit juice