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Why Marriott Rewards may now be your best bet for high-end New York hotel points redemptions

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I try to find an excuse to head over to New York once a year.  This year I decided that it was time we reviewed the well-regarded American Airlines Boeing 77W business class seat.  This is the product that finally confirmed that the US carriers are no longer a laughing stock when it comes to long-haul business class seating – the AA seat appears far superior to Club World.  We will see, however ….

Needing a New York hotel for May, I took a look at my usual ‘luxury with points’ suspects.  I wanted to see how the recent increase in the cost of top InterContinental hotels shaped my thinking.

Conrad New York

The Hilton option:

Using Hilton Honors points, the best luxury option is Conrad New York in Battery Park where I have now stayed three times.  I reviewed it hereThis is an ‘all suite’ hotel so you are getting a lot of space for your points.  Add in the fact that the hotel is only a few years old and so in excellent condition and you have a great place to spend a couple of days.

Conrad New York is 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night when I am there in May.  The cash price is $705 (£504) per night including taxes, so I’d be getting 0.63p per Hilton point.  This is double my usual 0.33p valuation.  Not bad.

I would receive free breakfast (from a restricted la carte menu, the hotel has no buffet) as I am a Hilton Diamond, or indeed if I was Gold.  There is no guarantee of late check-out before my 10pm flight home.

Intercontinental Barclay lobby

The IHG Rewards Club option:

Using IHG Rewards Club points, the best two luxury options I have tried are the two InterContinental hotels, either Times Square or BarclayI reviewed Times Square here and I have stayed here three times – the plus point is the good views from the higher floors, the downside is the total lack of public space in the hotel. 

I reviewed the newly renovated Barclay here where I have only stayed once since it reopened (and once when it was scruffy) – the plus side is the large amount of public space (lobby pictured above) and new rooms, the downside is that they are not very big.

Following the recent increases, both hotels are 70,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night.  Times Square is $575 (£411) per night and Barclay is $500 (£357) so I’d be getting 0.59p or 0.51p per point.  These are both above my typical 0.4p valuation for an IHG point.

As I am an InterContinental Ambassador (see here for more on this) I would get a guaranteed 4pm check-out.

I did not look at Hyatt options because I do not have enough World of Hyatt points.  I did not look at Starwood options because Starwood luxury redemptions are almost always bad value at 35,000 points per night – I could convert those into 40,000 airline miles instead.  That left Marriott Rewards.

The Marriott Rewards option:

Historically I have never been ‘a Marriott person’.  The footprint is relatively light in Europe compared to the US and it has never been easy to pick up their points without doing the stays.  Marriott Rewards was not an American Express Membership Rewards hotel partner and you could not get status via American Express Platinum.  The UK credit card only earned a weak 1 point per £1.

Frankly there was no reason to bother with Marriott when IHG and Hilton offered easy routes to status, generous bonus promotions, better hotels and Amex transfer options.

However …. Marriott bought Starwood in 2015.  From 2016 you could convert your Starwood Preferred Guest status (Amex Platinum cardholders get SPG Gold) into the same Marriott Rewards status.  You could convert your Starwood points into Marriott Rewards points at 1:3.  Marriott Rewards suddenly became interesting to me:

We used points and a cash co-pay to stay at the JW Marriott in Venice (reviewed here)

In October, I stayed at the new The Ritz-Carlton desert resort in Ras Al-Khaimah (reviewed here) at an exceptionally cheap points rate compared to the prevailing cash price

Two weeks ago I used points to stay at the excellent Berlin Marriott (reviewed here) at a time when hotel prices were inflated due to the ITB travel show, and got free lounge access and a guaranteed late check-out due to my Marriott Gold status

I thought I would take a look at what was available in New York.  Because Marriott redemptions cap at 45,000 points (The Ritz-Carlton brand has a separate higher pricing chart) they seemed excellent value in an expensive city.

JW Marriott Essex House

I settled on the JW Marriott Essex House which overlooks Central Park.  This was a Jumeirah for a while and has also operated under other brands.  JW Marriott is the most luxurious Marriott brand before you get to The Ritz-Carlton, which is more expensive in terms of points due to its separate pricing chart.  Importantly for me:

it has just had a full refurbishment, and

the Executive Lounge, which I get guaranteed access to via my Marriott Gold status, is well regarded, and for breakfast you get to eat for free in a cordoned off section of the main restaurant with roughly the same food selection as paying guests, and

I would get guaranteed 4pm check-out which is key as my flight home departs at 10pm

I normally value a Marriott Rewards point at 0.5p.  In pricey cities such as New York you can do far, far better.

For the dates I am there, the JW Marriott Essex House is an astonishing $958 (£685) per night.  This means that I am getting a huge 1.52p per Marriott Rewards point based on 45,000 points per night.

I have booked myself in, and will do a full review in mid May when I get back.


Let’s look at the value here:

  • Hilton Honors at the Conrad gets me 0.63p per point compared to the usual 0.33p
  • IHG Rewards Club at the Barclay gets me 0.51p per point compared to the usual 0.4p
  • Marriott Rewards at the JW Marriott gets me 1.52p per point compared to the usual 0.5p

…. which makes Marriott Rewards the clear winner in terms of maximising the value of the points I have.  The recent 15%+ points rise in the cost of the two InterContinental properties has made them uncompetitive compared to Marriott Rewards in this example.   The Conrad remains a decent alternative – especially as it is ‘all suite’.

The Marriott advantage is inflated by the high cash rate at the Essex House of course, but Essex House also has the ‘best’ location by classic New York standards. 

Remember too that as a Marriott Gold Essex House will give me lounge access and a 4pm check-out.  The InterContinental Barclay would give me a guaranteed 4pm check-out as an Ambassador but no breakfast.  Conrad New York would give me breakfast as a Hilton Diamond but not a guaranteed 4pm check-out.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (March 2023)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (76)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Genghis says:

    I looked at Essex House for a tag on to a work trip in May when Mrs G will come out. Looks great and fantastic location. But SPG/Marriotts are quite hard to earn and I never have enough of them (even considering can be bought as an option) so we went for the Conrad (also at 80k a night).

  • James A says:

    Worth noting btw is that just holding the Starwood Amex seems cause my SPG gold status to be renewed… obviously I decided not to question this anomaly!

  • Leo says:

    I think you need to start looking at Kimptons now as well as ICs when discussing IHG. Especially in places like NYC.

    • Brian says:

      Good point. In NYC, the Kimptons seem to be 70,000 points a night, like the ICs, but I’d say that they are probably superior.

    • Rob says:

      When they start offering 4pm check out before 10pm flights home I will 🙂

      • Clive says:

        I don’t see the appeal of the late check out in this case? Won’t you be out exploring the city all day anyway?

        • Rob says:

          Perhaps, perhaps not. Since I effectively work 24/7 I never really know when something will come up which needs immediate attention. That includes Christmas Day, by the way, as even then the stream of emails from outside the UK and from non-observant people in the UK does not ease up.

      • Leo says:

        Yes fair point as most flights back to UK are evening flights. I’m not sure I would go back to the IC TS though even with the 4pm check out.

        • Rob says:

          You would, because the subway to JFK (well, to Airtrain) runs directly to the station underneath IC TS!

        • Leo says:

          I had a less than stellar experience there last time – possibly a good choice for first timers to NYC and yes the E train to JFK is an easy journey.

          • Rob says:

            There is nothing good about the IC TS except for the rooms, and even then you need to be fairly high. The rooms could also have gone downhill in the couple of years since I was last there.

  • Paul says:

    AA’s 777W is a far superior product to cramped world. Even on a bad day AA wipe the floor with BA. Only the LHR lounge lets it down but just use CX’s lounge.

    • Lax says:

      Agree. Although having to fly BA to Gatwick in business and not looking forward to it.

      • RTS says:


        • Rob says:

          The new lounges are very nice. The bigger issue is the fact that Gatwick gets the grottiest planes.

        • pauldb says:

          Refurb programme is now starting to erode that problem though (in J): just randomly checked 5 consecutive days in November and all had a refurbed 777 (going by the seat maps: J cut down to 4 rows).

  • Pangolin says:

    Rob, your exchange rate for the IC Barclay seems to be off. How can it be $75 dollar cheaper than Times Square but £117 cheaper also? That’s technically impossible, so either the dollar or pound figure is wrong there. If $500 is correct then you’re gettting around 0.51p per point rather than 0.42p

  • Lax says:

    Can we convert Amex points to Marriott?

    Looking for two nights in New York in May. Currently booked on points at the DoubleTree Suites at Times Square which is 95,000 per night. Not sure if the Conrad is a bit out of the way of the action. The Conrad is $603 per night, so a good return on points, whereas the DoubleTree Suites is $333.

    • Genghis says:

      Via SPG at 2:1:3

      • Pangolin says:

        Personally I don’t think it’s worth sending Amex MR to SPG, given that Hilton is 1:2 and Radisson is 1:3.

        Actually, I don’t think Hilton points are worth converting to either so of the hotel options Radisson is the only one that looks worthwhile. It makes more sense to save MR for airlines in general.

        • Mr dee says:

          Depends on your points wealth

        • Genghis says:

          I think the best advice is that people run the numbers for their own travel goals and circumstances. I don’t feel “guilty” about having converted MR->SPG->Marriott in the past.

        • Rob says:

          Arguably Radisson is better deal than airlines unless you know you will clear 1p per airline mile.

        • RTS says:

          I think the Marriot Travel Packages are very attractive especially with the the BAEC transfer bonus

        • Alex W says:

          +1. I’m aiming to get over 1p per Marriott point using a travel package (=1.5p per Amex MR point). Although this is less than 1.52p per Marriott point in Rob’s Essex House example, there’s no chance I’d be paying £685 per night so that valuation is excessive for me.

    • Rob says:

      If you take the fast (not ‘all stops’) subway from the Conrad then Grand Central is 3 or 4 stops only.

  • Ian O says:

    Stayed at Essex House and it is awesome, I also like the way it is around 10 minutes walk from Times Square, it is also perfect for families with children with the park on your doorstep. I always use MR points. Top tip ask for a Central Park view. Lounge is ok for breakfast but no free wine or beer in the evening as per the normal rules for Marriott in the US. I usually stay for 5nights as the 5th is free and therefore you get an even better yield.

    With respect to earning points, with the current offer of 2000 points per stay, the only really way to build points is to move hotels. If you are on your own this is not much hassle, especially in the US there are often Marriott brands literally next to each other. I did this all the time in Dallas and racked up around 50,000 in 10 days in Marriott budget venues such as residence inn.

    • Polly says:

      Agree it is gorgeous. Never stayed there, but went in for coffee and lunch when nearby, just to see it. We would certainly look at using marriot points or a package next time in nyc, via spg card tho. ATM tho getting the 2k bonus for OH work stays around the EU, which helps.
      So easy to rack up points around the US, as you say, there’s a Marriot brand on every corner…

  • Kipto says:

    “ Marriott redemptions cap at 45000 points” . I am sure I have seen Marriott redemptions for 80000 points.

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