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A few thoughts about the St Regis New York hotel and my $2,800 suite

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This is my review of the St Regis New York hotel.

Except …. it isn’t.  Three weeks ago I wrote a popular article about how I tried to maximise the $50 per day ‘destination fee’ at St Regis New York by incurring as many qualifying spurious charges as possible.

I promised a full review of the hotel but I came to realise that it simply wasn’t realistic:

As a Marriott Platinum Premier (via my Platinum Challenge earlier this year) I was upgraded from my $1,100 per night standard room to a $2,800 per night Madison Suite – so I never saw a standard room

My status got me $55 per day of free breakfast, so it was hard to get a feel for whether the food – which runs to $125 for their top omelette – is good value if you need to pay for it

Whilst my room was 60,000 points, any bookings after January 2019 will be 100,000 points on peak dates which massively changes the value proposition

If you were thinking of paying $1,100 per night – although it is often in the $700s – this is clearly a major shift from using 60,000 points and I think you’d be using different parameters than mine for judging the St Regis

I’m therefore just going to give you a few impressions and let you decide for yourself whether you’d want to try a standard room, which I haven’t seen.  Click the photos to enlarge slightly.

St Regis New York hotel review

Now I’ve said all that ….

…. let’s cut to the chase.  I wasn’t hugely impressed.   And that’s despite all the perks above.

In terms of location, the St Regis is right in the centre of it all and I had no complaints.  Very close to Central Park with MoMA just a few minutes walk, the hotel is on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 55th.  The entrance is tucked away on East 55th.

Let’s start with my suite.  Obviously having a 95 sq m suite for three nights was great, especially as I was working for much of the time and appreciated the space.  However, the suite was simply two rooms knocked together.  This was weird, although not unusual in my experience.

I put a one minute video of my Madison Suite on InstagramYou can see it here.

I had two identical bathrooms, which means two baths, two showers and four sinks, but neither was particular large.  (There was some novelty in starting to brush my teeth in one bathroom and walking to the other to rinse.)  I didn’t like the brass fittings either:

St Regis New York hotel review

The look was too ‘heavy’ for my tastes, although I did admire the silk wall coverings in the bedroom:

St Regis New York hotel review

Whilst you can’t see from the pictures, there was no view from the windows even though I was on the 14th floor.   This was the living room – there is a decent desk in the foreground, albeit without built-in power sockets because it is a ‘real’ desk.

St Regis New York hotel review

Oddly, what I REALLY loved was the corridor walking down to my room from the lifts.  There was something very classy about it due, again, to the silk wall coverings which the picture doesn’t quite bring out:

St Regis New York hotel review

Where the hotel really fell down, I felt, was in general service standards and the lack of public space.

Let’s start with service.  It’s never a good start when the check-in clerk has to explain how you are being legged over for a $50 per night ‘destination fee’.  It must be hugely embarrassing to say it to those who do pay $1,100 per night on a peak day.  Note that no-one opens the door for you here – although there are doormen – and no-one escorts you to your room or shows you the facilities.

We then come to the fabled St Regis butler service.  In theory you get a butler for the duration of your stay. However, and this point is made over and over again if you look at other reviews, no-one explains what they can do.

When looking through the hotel guide I saw that I could order some coffee on arrival, so I did:

St Regis New York hotel review

There is no coffee maker in the room.  The following afternoon I tried again but was refused.  I can have a free coffee before noon from the butler, but after noon I must call room service and pay roughly $20 for a cup ($8 tray charge, the cost of the coffee, 18% service charge, local tax).  It would probably have been cold on arrival too.  Day 2 and Day 3 I learned my lesson and ordered when I woke up, but having to get dressed purely to receive the coffee was something I could have avoided if I’d had a Nespresso machine.

Apart from calling the butler to collect my laundry each day – I had a $50 daily laundry credit so I was going to use it – I never saw them.  And I never saw the same butler twice.

The hotel even messed up billing. I had booked each night separately but the hotel knew this and had already linked them when I arrived. Each morning, however, I woke up to find a bill under the door for the previous night.  Random amounts of money were also put on hold each day on my credit card.  They had managed to put together a coherent combined bill at the time of check-out.

One other thing.  On Day 1, the restaurant was convinced at breakfast that I was called Mr Martin.  No idea why.  I was called this for the entire meal, by people who went out of their way to drop the name into the conversation.  On Day 2 and Day 3 I wasn’t addressed by name at all, by anyone.

Breakfast

Here is a library shot of the breakfast room at St Regis New York, which becomes a restaurant in the evening:

St Regis New York hotel review

It is remarkably small with only about 20 tables, and it has to cope with a lot of outsiders coming in for a business breakfast meeting.  Now that elite members get free breakfast at St Regis – which only started in mid August – it may prove too tiny to cope.  On my third day I had to wait about 10 minutes which was not exactly premium.

Prices are huge, portions are huge.  Say ‘yes’ to the guy who offers you a glass of orange juice as you sit down and that is $15 + 18% service + tax on your bill, per person, before you’ve even got comfy.

Suffice it to say that there is no buffet here and everything is silver service and a la carte.  Served very slowly.  Whilst I got seated immediately on my 2nd day I had to complain after 10 minutes that the staff had totally ignored my presence, despite the small number of tables.

The King Cole Bar

Again, this is a library picture of the small St Regis New York bar – the King Cole bar – just off the dining area.  It isn’t very big and, again, a lot of non-residents use it.  You will end up in here purely to spend your $50 daily food and drink credit that comes with your $50 destination fee.  There is a bar menu and I ate here twice in the evenings to get through my credit.

St Regis New York hotel review

That’s about it.  You see, the hotel lacks public space.  It’s not the The Savoy or Claridges in London, or the currently closed Waldorf Astoria in New York.  If you’re not in your room there isn’t much other space to occupy.

In the basement is a small display of hotel memorabilia.  No-one ever sees it because it is in a corner few people even pass.  A sign confirms it doesn’t even belong to the hotel and is on loan.

St Regis New York memorabilia

Lack of coherent ownership is an issue here.  Some floors, amazingly, were sold off as timeshare units so there are fewer hotel rooms than you think looking from the outside.  The portion of the hotel fronting Fifth Avenue, which contains retail, was sold off for a whopping $700m a few years ago when New York shop rents peaked.

Conclusion

You’re probably expecting me to say that I wouldn’t stay here again.  Except, potentially, I might.  Just once more.

Until December I can book for 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night for a date in 2019.  That is a bargain compared to, say, 80,000 Hilton Honors points for Conrad New York (my preferred option) or 70,000 IHG Rewards Club points for The Barclay or InterContinental Times Square.  My best chance of an upgrade is at the St Regis too, although the Conrad is ‘all suite’ anyway.

There is ‘something’ about spending three days enveloped in all this.  Even though it consistently wound me up, I was always interested in what came next.  It is NEVER going to become my favourite New York hotel but I could do it once more, for 60,000 points, and I probably will.

The St Regis New York website is here if you want to find out more.


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Comments (72)

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

  • Nate1309 says:

    slightly OT, using the 60000 til jan. I am thinking of booking Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, anyone been there? would be me, the wife and a 1 year old. worthy use of marriot points?

    • Stu N says:

      Yes, highly recommended. Hotel is pretty new and views are stunning as it’s 100-118 floors of the Kowloon ICC. It’s on top of airport express station so dead easy to get to from
      HKG and well connected to Central too. Kowloon is a quick and cheap taxi ride away unless you want to faff around on the MTR. The Ozone bar and rooftop pool are good too.

      They will probably email to offer an upgrade to a club room for approx £200 which in our view is worth it – covered all meals for the 24 hours we were in the hotel and we were given a vast harbour view suite.

      We stayed on the night before a mid-afternoon flight out of HKG and are going back next year.

      • Genghis says:

        Just had lunch there. Looks v nice. Great views.

        • AndyF says:

          If you stay at the Ritz Carlton or even if you do not. Go there at least once on the 118th floor is the Ozone bar the highest bar in the world. Entry is free you can go out on to the terrace and have a couple of drinks and view Hongkong (at night it is exceptional). The prices are relatively expensive but it is very much worth it for an hour or two. A definite experience.

        • Stu N says:

          Re Ozone, worth dropping them an email to pre-book and ask for a seat with a view – contact details are on the website. The terrace is only open in good weather and you’re behind glass so not fully in the open but on a good day or better still, evening, the views are stunning.

    • Nate1309 says:

      thanks both.

  • Andrew L says:

    Has anyone stayed at the Crowne Plaza Times Square? We’re booked to stay there for 4 nights in April.

    • Graham WalshWalsh says:

      Yes I stayed there last year on points. Had the $10 breakfast voucher and kids ate free at breakfast. I was only Spire back then I think and not Spire Elite.

      • Andrew L says:

        Hi Graham. Is it a nice hotel?

        • Graham WalshWalsh says:

          Hi Andrew, hotel was fine. Huge queue at check in but I walked up to the IHG members desk. Rooms are a bit small but so are most of NYC rooms. Plus you’ll only be there sleeping. Nice vote over Times Sq for breakfast. Ate in the bar one night too which was fine. I was there with my 2 young boys. They shared one double bed and I had the other.

          Re status – you’re right. It’s the same. Think I had just the status from the black card.

          • Rob says:

            Oddly, I think The Barclay – post refurb – does a better job of ‘classic luxury’ than the St Regis. It was still in its post-reopening teething phase when I was there but fundamentally there is a lot to like except for lack of a restaurant which is just weird.

      • John says:

        ?? Spire / Spire Elite are the same thing.

        There is a difference between Spire and Spire Ambassador, but Ambassador means nothing at Crowne Plazas (and they may not even be able to see it)

    • Adam says:

      Yes. Was very pleased with hotel. Good upgrade as platinum.

  • Chris says:

    I really enjoyed that review.

    I think some of the little things, service-wise, are the sorts we’ve all experienced over the years and that get more irritating each time, but in a property able to charge four figures a night, supposedly based on service, it becomes something of an insult. (Location is of course worse a lot too in this case.)

    I chuckled at the doormen part – we get greeted, by name, every time we visit the IC in London even when it’s been a year between visits. And nobody ever suggested that’s a prime luxury hotel. Doormen who don’t open doors lovely.

    Let us know if you feel the same on your next visit Mr Martin, if you do it, and when you get dumped in a standard room on the 2nd floor over an intersection!

    • Russ says:

      Ha ha – yes the Mr Martin thing’s rather disappointing for a luxury hotel. Nevertheless I’d like to see the $120 omelette, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been presented with a real omelette.

      Thanks for the great review Rob and saving us shed loads of points next year!

  • Andrew says:

    It’s becoming more common for US Hotels not to have coffee makers in the rooms.

    A small kettle and a travel Cafetiere is becoming essential kit for travelling in the US.

    • Mike says:

      Make sure your travel kettle is designed for 110v, and not simply a 240v travel kettle that will work fine at 110v.

      Half an hour to boil a pint of water.

      • Genghis says:

        I remember learning the hard way taking my hair clippers to Japan

        • ankomonkey says:

          I remember Japanese hairdressers refusing to cut my hair for fear of delivering a cut/style I didn’t want.

  • Zumo says:

    Rob, you clearly love a luxury hotel and fair enough if you do. But even if I was tempted the chiselling over cups of coffee and poor service would put me off for life!!

  • Russell says:

    I can tell that this place would annoy the hell out of me. Identikit “our idea of luxury is make everything gaudy and beige” American decor, and an “open your wallets and repeat after me” approach to service. The bit that really got me was $15 for an orange juice. They are having a hearty laugh at their customers’ expense.

    To be honest, this matches most of my experience of NYC.

    • Chris says:

      The OJ is expensive but let’s be clear, you’re not paying $15 for the orange juice are you, you’re paying to be served orange juice in a luxury breakfast room.

      The cost of the juice is immaterial in the price – you wouldn’t expect it to be comparable to a coffee shop after all

      • Lumma says:

        $15+tax is a rip off. Just a quick search around a few high end London hotels and restaurants, the most expensive fruit juice I found was £7. It’s like the €9 cans of Coke in that hotel in Venice that was in an article on here recently.

        • Yuff says:

          €9 for a can of coke is expensive, however I remember some friends buying 2 cans of coke at le Meridien, in Paris, 31 years ago at £8 a can…..

      • marcw says:

        At the end of the day, what you get is a OJ. You can sit for free in the “breakfast room”.

        • John says:

          Well, some oranges taste better than others, but Coca-Cola is more or less the same everywhere (but there was that weird flyertalk thread where someone used a doctor’s letter to get BA’s permission to take 20 cans of Coke from the lounge because apparently the water they used in the local canning facility had some special minerals or whatever….)

    • Lumma says:

      I agree. Overpriced, poor service and just not that special. Seems like a metaphor for New York city in general

  • Michael says:

    Best review I have ever read as it has just saved me 180k of points that I can use in a hotel that knows what service is. I had an idea the St.R NYC might be a disappointment but I must say this is far worse than I expected! With the other options currently available for 60k points I will be staying at those rather than here!

  • Gin and Tonic Please says:

    Just got back from an NYC trip myself. Stayed at The James NoMad, as we’d stayed at the one in SoHo several times before and really liked it. The NoMad one fell short on so many fronts – nothing major but lots of little niggles that added up. Won’t be going back.

    Had lunch at the Kimpton Eventi while I was there, though. That looked like a great option.

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