A weekend in New York earlier this month was my fourth trip to the city in the last few years and each time I stayed at a different hotel. Four visits and four hotels. I was beginning to feel like I might be suffering from Goldilocks syndrome. I didn't dislike any of the hotels that we had stayed at but not one of them had been just right. So with some trepidation, I booked the J.W. Marriott Essex House and hoped that, in my case, the fourth time would be the charm.
The elegant and sophisticated Essex House has been a fixture in Manhattan since it first opened in 1931 and is now part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Art Deco-style hotel underwent an extensive renovation in the last few years prior to a change in ownership and rebranding as the J.W. Marriott Essex House in the fall of 2012. I chose Essex House primarily for its location but the history of the hotel and the stylish photos on the website went a long way toward convincing me to book a room.
We were spending the weekend in New York City because my 16 year-old daughter, Katie, was there with her school choir rehearsing for a Sunday evening performance at Carnegie Hall. My husband, our 9 year-old daughter, Emma, and I decided that attending the concert was all the excuse we needed to spend a weekend in New York. I wanted to find a hotel as close as possible to Carnegie Hall though so that we could return to our room quickly post-concert as we had an early flight back to Toronto the next day. Carnegie Hall is practically on the back doorstep of Essex House so it fit the bill perfectly.
I also loved the fact that Essex House was located right across the street from Central Park as I was bound and determined that if I did nothing else on this trip to New York that I was going to explore that park on foot. On my three previous trips, the weather had been miserable and I had only seen the park from one of the Central Park carriages. As it turned out the location of Essex House wasn't just handy for Carnegie Hall and Central Park. The weather was perfect for our weekend visit and we walked everywhere including down to the Times Square neighbourhood several times. We did not need to take a cab once all weekend.
We arrived on Friday evening and the lovely lobby made a very good first impression.
Photos of Central Park line the hallway from the front to the back of the building and I couldn't help stopping to admire them whether I was coming or going.
And our room? - well our room was a perfect blend of modern luxury and functionality. We booked a Junior Suite with a king-sized bed and a double pull-out sofa and we had enough space to have a party in the middle of the room. Check out that floor space - it was definitely more than I was expecting in a Manhattan hotel room!
The king-sized bed was ever so comfortable and I appreciated that there was adequate lighting as there's nothing that I hate more than trying to read in a dark and dreary hotel room.
The living area was comfortable and had plenty of seating for day-time use with a sofa, two upholstered chairs and an ottoman. Even when the double sofa-bed was pulled out there was still plenty of floor space in the suite. Emma insisted that the pull-out sofa was "the most comfortable bed ever". She may have a tendency toward hyperbole but the bed suited her just fine.
The bathroom had a separate tub and walk-in shower and Emma particularly liked the funky above-counter sink and the bathrobes even though there wasn't one in her size.
There were many little things that we loved about our suite including the walk-in closet change area with iron and ironing board (not that it was used), the large desk and comfortable chair for getting some work done, lots of outlets for charging electronics, and wireless internet included in our price. (The hotel's website said that wireless internet was available for a fee but we weren't charged - not certain if the policy has changed or if it was because we have Marriott memberships.).
And something that anyone who is as directionally-challenged as I am will appreciate is the 60 foot high sign on the roof of Essex House which was like a beacon guiding me back to the hotel.
We were a little sad to check out of Essex House on Monday morning after such a short trip but now that I have found my "just-right" hotel in New York City I can't wait to plan another trip.
What You Need to Know
- The J.W. Marriott Essex House is located at 160 Central Park South.
- The hotel has a smoke-free policy.
- Check-in is at 3pm, check-out at noon.
- Only valet parking is available at a charge of $55 per day ($65 for SUVs) and no in/out privileges. (Leaving the car at home might be a good idea!)
- Essex House has 40 floors , 394 rooms , 117 suites.
- Wireless internet is available in public areas, wired and wireless internet available in guest rooms.
- South Gate Tavern is an on-site restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room Service is also available. (We found a nearby Starbucks to pick up a quick breakfast.)
- Essex House has an on-site Exercise Room and a Spa.
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