My Best Upgrade Yet at My Favorite Hotel in New York

Monday morning, Million Mile Secrets tweeted:

As good as @garyleff says they are!

He was referring to the lemon poppyseed pancakes at the Andaz 5th Avenue.

I read this tweet just as I was walking out the front door of that same hotel. I had checked in late Sunday night for a one-night stay. As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a regular guest at that hotel, it’s my favorite place to stay in Manhattan.

  • The rooms, and the bathrooms, are large by New York standards.
  • All guests receive complimentary internet and non-alcoholic beverages from the minibar (I’m just grateful for the 3 bottles of water, replenished daily). There’s of course a refrigerator in the ‘library’ portion of the lobby to get free coffee, water, and whatnot as well. And there’s free snacks as well, chips, a granola bar, and a couple of chocolates also replenished daiy.
  • Service is generally friendly.
  • The food is quite good, and Diamond member breakfast can be taken from room service.

All in all, for room rates generally in the $300s (expensive, but not for New York), the hotel represents an overall package of value from my perspective.

And it feels like home. I don’t think that’s because I usually receive a note from a manager in my room after checkin that says “welcome home” — in fact I was once given a note intended for another guest, and it said the exact same thing, though I do think it’s a brilliant sentiment to offer to repeat guests! — rather the overall size of the rooms, that the lobby is smaller and so less active than the Wall Street property and thus I find it peaceful stepping on property… While the hotel is on 5th Avenue, its entrance is off of a side street that’s far from busy, once on that side street I find myself a world apart from the bustling city.

On this stay I was surprised with my best upgrade yet, and I didn’t use a confirmed Diamond suite upgrade. But then the best upgrades usually happen checking in late at night (it was 11pm) and on a one-night stay. Fabulous, but sadly not when you’ll enjoy it most.

It was my first experience with a Splash Suite. It’s about 800 square feet, a bit larger than the other suites I’ve seen. This one overlooked the New York Public Library, a view I haven’t had at the property since my first stay. But also unlike some of the suites I’ve been in there, there was no balcony.

There’s a larger living room than usual, longer couch, and a wider chair beside the couch than in the other suites which I much appreciate because I can sit in it comfortable, rather than at attention, while I plug away on my laptop.

As always, there’s a desk area and chair though I wish that the chair was on wheels.

I was greeted by a note from the general manager, a treat, and a bottle of wine.

The minibar is of interest because non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are free for all guests.

The Andaz 5th Avenue has one of my favorite bathrooms. I love the glass, love the tile, and love the size (considering this is New York!). The bathrooms are quite similar even in non-suite rooms. While lighting could still be improved, the bathrooms are both better lit and in my opinion more stylish than those of the Andaz Wall Street.

The room is a splash suite because it also has a tub in a room sitting between the living room and the bedroom, beside the bathroom.

The tub in the suite actually would have looked out over the library, had I cared to bathe that way.

The bedroom was fairly standard…

… although it too had space for a couch.

But what makes this property super-special in the way that it treats Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members is the ability to take breakfast from room service. The breakfast in their restaurant will be good, of course, but complimentary room service is special.

I suppose it has something to do with the upbringing that many of us have. Room service is ‘expensive’. It’s a forbidden fruit. It’s a treat. And if breakfast is free in the restaurant, it’s hard to forego that and pay for it in-room, where it likely is priced higher than downstairs not to mention delivery charges that usually apply.

And room service breakfast is better, at least if you’re not meeting up with friends. If you’re alone it’s a great, efficient use of time. You can eat while you work or get ready. Even with someone else, you can eat as you are far less formally.

When the Andaz 5th Avenue opened the benefit was unlimited room service breakfast.

In recent posts about the Andaz Wall Street and about the Hyatt at Olive 8 I wrote about how properties have been ‘standardizing’ which means becoming less generous with their benefits. Hotels that used to offer room service credit no longer do. And no doubt they looked bad in comparison to the generosity of a place like Andaz 5th Avenue.

One of the things I like most about the way the Andaz 5th Avenue does room service breakfast is that they do not even bring you a bill if you are a Diamond member. Nothing to sign. They drop off the food and depart.

Now, give the pressure no doubt felt from other hotels in the chain, and the chain itself, the hotel has become less generous. They no longer offer unlimited room service breakfast. No doubt there were folks who truly took advantage of this benefit, likely ordering “one of everything,” although even then the food cost on a breakfast entrée tends to be quite low, I believe the actual ingredients on my favorite lemon poppyseed pancakes would be less than $2.00. So they’re not out of pocket a lot.

My understanding — which I did not confirm with the hotel on this visit — is that they’ve gone to a maximum of $75 for room service, above that amount you’ll be billed. That’s exceptionally generous, they should be absolutely applauded for this (even when the Andaz Wall Street offered a room service option the cap was $50).

I ordered up a room service breakfast, but I didn’t have the pancakes this time. I wasn’t so much in the mood for sweet.

Absolutely enjoyable. I ate, caught up on email, read the Wall Street Journal delivered as requested, before heading out of the property for meetings. Now I can’t wait to come back! Although I doubt I’ll luck out again with another Splash suite, something I hadn’t yet had in all my previous stays.

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. Gary do you have time to just kick back in a hammock and watch the grass grow? Your always on the go. Anyway we appreciate your great reviews and look forward to your posts.

  2. I stayed there a month ago for the first time and loved it. The location is fantastic along with the other things you mentioned.

  3. Looks great. I have an upcoming one night stay layover in NYC. I was going to stay near JFK but now I am considering coming into the city to stay at the Andaz because of this review.

  4. Excellent location, I like the Japanese fast food and pastries across the street from the entrance. Excellent before a late dinner.

  5. I just returned from another lengthy stay at this property and have the highest regard for the property, location, and quality of attention from all levels of staff. I can think of domestic Park Hyatts (*cough*..Chicago…*cough*) that don’t measure up to the experience I get here. I agree with @David about the bonus of having three credible Japanese markets right across 41st…definitely pay a visit to Sunrise Mart if only for a takeaway sandwich.

  6. That couch was surprisingly comfortable and I liked using the lap top on the coach instead of the desk.

    Emily also complained about the low level of lighting in the bathroom, but other than that it is a great value in New York!

  7. While it probably isn’t as nice as the Andaz, (though it’s still a steal for $120 in manhattan and the rooms are quite new) the four points in soho gives platinum guests the same opportunity to dine ensuite for breakfast. And the food was good!

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