Morgans Group’s The Hudson: So this is What a Normal Hotel Room in New York City is Like?

A few weeks ago I went up to New York to tape a segment for The Colbert Report. It won’t run for awhile, if it runs at all, but doing the taping was a blast.

They first thought we’d get started in the early afternoon and were going to arrange the train up and back same-day. But when they went to schedule crew and studio time they ran into some snags, and wanted to schedule a first thing in the morning start time so I headed up to the city the night before.

I go to New York all the time, living in the DC area and 10 minutes from the airport it’s almost like going to the exuurbs for me, and I do it with greater frequency. I’m pretty much always given towards staying with the major chain hotels — not just because I’m a slave to points (though I am) but also because I get outsized value for my room rate — free internet, free breakfast, and usually an upgrade.

While my most frequent hotel stays have been at the Andaz 5th Avenue, in the past year I’ve also stayed at the Andaz Wall Street, Hyatt 48 Lex, Grand Hyatt New York, Le Parker Meridien, Conrad New York, and Intercontinental New York Times Square.

But since the Colbert Report folks were setting up the stay. I certainly wasn’t going to complain and I wasn’t going to be ‘difficult’ talent to work with! The night itself was also a fairly expensive one for the city when I had a look at pricing, my preferred properties were either sold out or much more expensive than usual. I was happy with wherever they were going to put me (more or less).

They booked me into The Hudson hotel, a Morgans Group property. The rate was ~ $275, expensive for many places in the country but on the cheap side for a night when decent chain hotels in the city were $400+.

The cab pulled up to the hotel and I was almost confused when the driver stopped. I looked around. Where is it?

    Do you see the hotel here?

The driver assured me I was at the hotel.

Ok, let’s look a little bit closer.

Clearly I had failed the first test. The first rule of The Hudson seems to be, if you can’t find the front door on your own and right away, then you don’t belong at the Hudson.

I walked in the door and it turned out to be a vestibule, with doors to the left and right that you could choose to walk through and then up an escalator to the front desk and lobby.

At the desk they were friendly enough, letting me know he hours of the restaurant and bar, that continental breakfast was served downstairs beginning at 6:30am and quoting a price which I don’t recall (there’s a Starbucks just across the street). And handing me a key for a room on the 19th floor — which turned out to be at the very ends of halways, a long-ish walk but also a slightly bigger room I think. Which turned out to be a blessing since it’s hard to imagine a smaller room.

The hallway struck me as very…. green… just like the door to the hotel and the lighting of the escalator.

The door knobs seemed low as well, and the doors small. Was this foreshadowing?

I walked in and the entryway to the room had a closet area and you could peer into the tiny bathroom.

The bathroom was indeed small, fortunately the door did just clear the toilet when you would open or close it.

While the room wasn’t large, it was separated into two distinct ‘areas’ — a living space and a bedroom. I was immediately struck by how small the furniture in the room was, making the room itself feel a bit larger. I don’t remember the last time I was in a room that was going for that effect!

You could look straight over to the bedroom.

And of course the bedroom had just enough space for.. the bed.

Still, the bed was perfectly large. The room had quite enough space for one person for the night, and I had no complaints. Except that they had placed televisions in both the living space and nearer the bed. They were the same brand of TV. So if you wanted to use the remote to turn on the television, they were in such close proximity that both televisions would turn on at the same time! I had to turn the TV on by hand to avoid that.

I just remember thinking, so this is what New York hotel rooms are really like?, a bit of a funny question considering the number of New York hotel rooms I’ve been in. “This is what $275 buys you in the city, without status” is probably more accurate.

And while the hotel was perfectly nice, and I suppose I fit in just fine with all of the Russian tourists I ran into in the elevator, I started to think my expectations of a New York hotel room weren’t the only thing that was a bit off — so was my ‘cool-ness factor.’

That is, until I went down to the lobby next morning and spotted this vending machine:

And I decided that the hotel wasn’t cooler than I am, after all.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’ve never stayed in the hotel – and agree, those rooms look very small – but did you go to the giant, wood-paneled two-story library near the front desk? I’ve been to a couple of receptions there and it’s a beautiful space.

    On the plus side, it’s close to the studio, right?

  2. At the Hudson, that is a huge room! The rooms there start at not much over 100 sq ft – basically take out the sitting room and you’d get a sense what a room in New York can really be like.

  3. My wife and I stayed at the Hudson for our 2nd NYC trip a few years ago, our room was like yours without the sitting area. 2 things stood out, the Bar ,ultra-hip and the location , close to Columbus Circle and Central Park. It was the smallest rooms we have stayed in , in NYC.They said this was a favorite hotel for Paris Hilton and her entourage.

  4. people used to go to the Hudson for drinks. it was a trendy place. you probably paid a premium for that.

  5. This one used to be a Y so kinda explains the teeny rooms. But it’s a typical Morgans/Philippe Starck collaboration – flash in the public areas and cheap crap in the rooms. The disco/bar used to be hot with tourists who waited in line, don’t know if it still is. I hate these hotels, especially what they did to the former Four Seasons in SF.

  6. Hi Gary. nice post. happy new year.

    I can’t make out what was in the vending machines. Is that a fish hook?

    Can you comment on the Colbert Report segment?


  7. It is too hip for you 🙂 All that green looks like a prison or something. I litle your comments about tiny furniture. That furniture is for looks not actual use. This used to be a Y? Thats great. The Y now has rooms for 300+ a night. Only in NY.

  8. that place was the in thing over ten, maybe twelve, thirteen years ago. it was never that cool to begin with/

  9. I have to say, that room isn’t too bad for NYC. I’ve been in rooms at the original W on Lex where there was only room for a queen sized bed and a tiny desk, not even rooms for an armchair.

  10. Seems like you were lucky to get a room that big. I once got a room at The Hudson off of Hotwire and the room was about 100 sq ft. There was no tub in the bathroom and the shower area was not separated from the rest of the bathroom….just a showerhead coming out of the wall and an all tile floor. The bedframe was Ikea and just a foot off the ground. They also wanted to charge me $90 to upgrade to a room with two double beds. The receptionist told me that no one in New York gets a room with two beds for the price I was paying ($175/night). After pressing the issue, she went to speak to the manager and was pleased to inform me that he made an exception, and I only needed to pay $60 to upgrade to a room with two beds. Seemed to me that most of the guests were Europeans who were used to the small and basic accommodations and quite happy to stay there. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.

  11. @DW – Oh I meant to add that to the original post actually, the last time i had a room like this in New York was at the W on Lex, a bathroom small enough I had to put my arm underneath the sink to sit on the toilet..

  12. The day after you posted this I had friends tell us to meet them there for drinks. I’m not sure I would have found it if I hadn’t read your post – Thanks Gary!

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