Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
The goal of this site is to provide you, the business traveler, with good and honest advice. Let me underscore the concept of honesty before you read any further.
My experience at the Hilton Newark Penn Station has been mixed and not always pleasant. However, the opportunities I've had to stay there are limited to those when I've had meetings and responsibilities within the adjacent business complexes or within walking distance, and usually during the winter. Suffice it to say, convenience was the most important factor. Therefore, I can only recommend this hotel under similar circumstances.
I have decided that since my review of this hotel is not necessarily positive in many respects, I will break these experiences down per visit since they varied. The three visits can be categorized as very good, pretty bad, and hopeful.
Visit #1 – Very Good
I arrived late at night, as I often do with the three hour time difference coming from the west coast. Arriving on Amtrack from the Newark airport was very convenient since, as I’m sure you assumed from the hotel's title, it is located at Newark Penn Station. Signs were easy to follow to walk directly from the train to the hotel without going outside. That's always nice when arriving at night in a big city and in cold weather.
My check-in went smoothly and there were even cookies, a perk they no longer offer, unfotunately. I reserved a standard room on the club level and it was a decent size, not to big, not too small, very standard for a city hotel room. The bed was comfortable, the television worked, the floor was quiet and non-smoking. The service in the hotel was very acceptable, yet I felt that the crew was a bit too "skeleton" even for that time of night. The building I worked in that week was attached by a human hamster trail (clear glass walkway) over the street so it was an easy commute next door.
The club lounge offered a nice breakfast in the morning, eggs, sausage, toast, bagels, cereal, fruit and juices, and of course coffee. There is a Starbucks located on the lobby level right outside the hotel entrance for those that need an industrial strength fix.
Visit #2 – Not So Good, In Fact, Pretty Lame
This visit made me consider never staying at this hotel again. Again, arriving very late at night from the west coast, my tolerance was low. I had booked a room on the club level and my colleague had intended to do the same, but accidentally booked a "breakfast room" online, which did not give her access to the club lounge. While trying to change this so that we could eat together in the morning and plan our day, she was met with extreme resistance, even when she offered to pay additional charges to be upgraded to a club level room. The customer service lacked in any sort of friendliness or helpfulness. Eventually, it worked out, but it was unpleasant and very unwelcoming.
Unfortunately, the end of our first day was met with additional unfriendliness when we reported that our rooms had not been cleaned. This all was followed by the experience on the third day of being locked our of our rooms. When we returned to the front desk (with all our work and briefcases in tow) to have our keycards reset, it was done with a sense of inconvenience. The woman at the front desk who remained on the phone dealing with an apparent problem simply held out her hand as if asking for the keys, re-set them and tossed them back on the counter. No eye contact, no apology for our inconvenience, nothing. Now my tolerance is very high for these situations as a frequent traveler, but even I could not help to add a sarcastic “thank you for your stellar customer service” retort as I headed back upstairs for the second time shlepping my bags...again.
The trip ended with no further inconveniences or problems.
Visit #3 – There's Hope Yet
The third visit to this Hotel, gave me hope again. Honestly, the only reason I even stayed a third time is because, once again, I had work in the same adjacent building after arriving by train, and it was the dead of winter. I needed an enclosed environment between the train, the hotel, and the office.
The check-in experience was much more pleasant the third time around. A very nice young man who couldn’t seem to do enough for us handled the room. I again stayed in a club level room which not only offers breakfast, but wine and hors d'oeuvres in the evening with a view of the city. This stay, the third stay, went off without a hitch.
I must say, these diverse experiences leave me feeling a bit torn in advising my readers. The bottom line is, I would stay there again, but only if convenience is the utmost concern. By this I mean, only if I am arriving by train, only if I am working in the adjacent complex where I can reach the offices via indoor walkways, and only if it is the dead of winter where staying inside is a must.