Big Brand or Boutique? When and why to choose the little guy (NYC edition)
So, let’s just say that Mary from Milwaukee is planning a trip to the Big Apple. And Mary from Milwaukee is generally accustomed to staying at Sheraton properties when she travels. She trusts the brand, she’s a member of the Starwood loyalty program, and she understands that hotels in Manhattan tend to be quite a bit pricier than hotels in other markets (or they used to be, anyway) – and so she’s prepared for this particular Sheraton to have slightly steeper rates than she’s used to paying.
So she surfs on over to the Sheraton site to find that a night at the Sheraton Manhattan Times Square is $233.10 for a non-smoking Queen room -- $270.98 with taxes – for the night of Friday, September 18th.
But wait. Mary can get a Queen Superior room at the swanky new Smyth Hotel in Tribeca (by Thompson Hotels), which just opened this winter with Sferra linens and a location that would be more likely to impress Mary’s snobby NYC niece (Times Square, where the Sheraton is located, would not) on the same night for $215.00, which comes out to $250.21 with taxes.
Let’s compare the two, with the help of our signature Pros & Cons and Bottom-Line assessments.
Sheraton Manhattan(7th Avenue at 51st)
Pros: Indoor pool; good fitness center with a view; three blocks from the theater district; free business center in lobby; 10-minute walk from 9 subway lines.
Cons: Stained carpets and dated rooms; $14.95 charge for Wi-Fi; overpriced on-site restaurant; room service closed for dinner (as of mid-July).
Bottom Line: “With worn, dirty rooms, generic, dated decor, and a weak restaurant, this 665-room Sheraton, located 10 short blocks north of Times Square, isn't pretty. But for the price, it offers some great amenities, like a large pool and free printing in the business center.”
The Smyth (85 West Broadway, near Chambers)
Pros: Brand-new property; everything is still immaculate; comfortable beds with Sferra linens; prompt, attentive service; convenient, safe, and quiet TriBeCa location; quiet rooms; room service available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cons: Amenities include a small gym, and that's about it; Wi-Fi costs $10 a day; restaurant isn't open yet; limited menu in the lobby.
Bottom Line: "Built from scratch in TriBeCa and "soft-launched" in March 2009, the Smyth so far exhibits excellent service and lots of downtown style. There's no party scene -- yet -- and amenities are limited, but the restaurant and cellar bar are slated to open soon. The surprisingly low rates may evaporate then -- but for now, with brighter, newer, and cheaper rooms, the Smyth outshines its well-known neighbor, the Tribeca Grand.”
The Winner: The little guy. So long as Mary from Milwaukee is willing to be a little flexible with the location (and she’ll probably end up spending a bit more in cab fare than she would at the Times Square Sheraton), the boutique-y Smyth would likely provide a better experience for the price.