Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
The Wall Street Journal says that business travel is up for the first time since the economy took a turn. Boy were they right. I have been on the road constantly, therefore, lots of hotel suggestions. However, for this one, I am on the fence a bit.
Usually, the best way to review a hotel is to tell the story of the visit. However, I find myself a bit torn this time. So I will provide the pros and cons of this property and let you use this information as you see fit. It must be said, what attracted me to this new-to-me property was location and price. I only needed a bed to sleep in for the night before leaving early for the JFK Airport (I literally spent less than 11 hours there, and I was only awake for 3 of them). Therefore, I needed a place that was decent and close to the tunnel. Mission accomplished with Roger Williams, but I am not sure I would choose this hotel in the future for other than these very functional purposes, i.e. location and price.
The Pros of Staying at the Roger Williams
Location Location Location:
This property has a great East Side location for commuting to and from JFK or La Guardia Airports. Located at the corner of East 31st and Madison, it is 3 blocks north of the Midtown tunnel, and close to the highway up to the bridges. So much better than fighting cross town traffic just to get to an “exit” from the island.
The hotel is also within walking distance to the subway, the “6” train to be specific. Not going where the “6” will take you? No worries. It connects with almost all train lines at certain stops, so heading up, down and across town is possible during your stay. The neighborhood doesn’t have many restaurants within walking distance if you are seeking to entertain colleagues, however, the area is filled with after-work bars, restaurants and crowds if that is what you seek. Overall, the Murray Hill neighborhood - which really feels like a neighborhood – is wonderful.
Super Friendly Staff
The staff was very friendly at this property from the door to the desk. When arrived, I was met immediately at my car and felt that my bag might give the doorman a hernia, but he didn’t stop smiling. Victoria behind the desk was also helpful. I had one of those “security” moments with my credit card where it was summarily shut down due to the fact that I had been charging in three different cities in three days…in fact, I might have charged in two different states the same day which can send bells and whistles off. Victoria assured me that security was likely the problem (before I either panicked or died of embarrassment) since my particular card company had a habit of doing that, in her experience working behind the desk.
Great Prices and a Great Lounge for Food and Drink
One thing that was very appealing about this property from the get-go was the fact that the room was only $199.00 per night on a Friday, during the summer; a deal for the time of year and location. There is also a great lounge on the second floor with excellent fare, whether it be a burger, fish, or salad, it is terrific. It has a decent selection of wine and it has an amazing selection of cheeses. Very cute, but also very small. I actually typed this review while sitting in there. And P.S., I must find out where they get their playlists…the music was intoxicating.
So, now you know the positives - here come the negatives.
The Cons of Staying at the Roger Williams Hotel
Age Comes to Us All and Roger Williams Is No Exception, the Poor Guy
Roger is unusual. He’s a man that has not gotten better looking with age like most. It’s an older building. That means you may get the new crisp feeling in the lobby, but not in the rooms. I felt like I needed to choreograph my walk from the door to the bed so that I wouldn’t keep stepping on that one floorboard that kept creaking. The floor molding also looked a bit dinged up. It has that slightly “older than a few years” feeling overall, but not really in the classic Murray Hill fashion. It wasn't bad, it was just that its mature age is a little noticeable. It might be time to cover the grey, Roger.
Now, despite the terrific price, needing a comfortable bed for the night was also a necessity when booking this property. On a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 being along the lines of a Four Seasons or Westin "Heavenly Bed" - I would have to rate the beds about a 7.0. Not bad, but again, there is room for improvement. A simple addition of a feather bed top layer would do wonders.
Of course, that's the worst of it. For the cost, the hotel was well worth it, especially considering the competitive time of year. The rooms were a bit small, but for New York, ample considering the price. This hotel would not be at the top of my list for a stay, but given the appropriate circumstances, it would be a top preference when price and convenience to the airports are the sole priorities.