Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
The Best Western President is, by New York standards, a budget hotel. For the low price, though, it's hard to find another decent hotel in Times Square, or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter, that measures up to this hotel.
Before the '09 renovation, rooms at the Best Western had flat-screen TVs and trendy new furnishings. The new style is modern but certainly not conventional -- hallways have purple calico wallpaper and mirrors silk-screened with photos of U.S. presidents. Each of the hotel's 44 suites are decorated with plastic busts and silk screen paintings of all 44 heads of state. The design is jarring, but at least it's an improvement.and dated furniture. Now they have
The old lobby was also overhauled to match this new direction. The hotel clientele mostly remains the same -- leisure and business travelers on a budget -- because, ultimately, this is a central and affordable hotel with clean rooms.
For upwards of $100 more per night, there's the Hilton Garden Inn right around the corner or the massive Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square. In both hotels, guests get much better features, like a large, modern fitness center. But it's hard to beat the Best Western's rates.
There are friendly concierge services, but this hotel doesn't stand out for its service.and decent
Service is fine, but nothing exceptional. The staff have the brusque-but-still-polite air of people who deal with tourists all day long -- they don't seem particularly interested in their guests. The bellmen are friendlier and attentive to guests coming and going.
When I asked the concierge to recommend a good Japanese restaurant, she pointed me to a nearby restaurant called Zenith. It got great reviews on MenuPages, but she didn't mention that it's strictly vegetarian, and Pan-Asian.
The hotel is on 48th Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. This is still Times Square, though it's half a block removed from the bright lights and pedestrian traffic. On the block, there are two theaters: Long Acre Theater, which recently featured the hit comedy "Boeing Boeing", and the Walter Kerr Theater, currently featuring "Irena's Vow". There are several restaurants and bars on the block: Saigon 48 (Vietnamese), Aoki (Japanese), (Italian), and .
About 30-90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time-consuming. From JFK, it's a (one-hour) $45 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a (30-minute) $40 metered cab ride to Midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls), and can take more than 90 minutes. Don't forget to tip your driver 15-25 percent.
To save some cash, try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14/person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs. For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Starting at 168 square feet, the rooms are small, even by New York City standards. The is a matter of taste: swirling purple and matching , plastic , and silk-screen . Personally, I found it a little tacky, but others might appreciate a look that brings Urban Outfitters to mind. At the very least, it's a clean room with brand-new furnishings.
Every room comes with a flat-screen TV and a coffeemaker. As a bonus, all local calls are free if they're under 30 minutes. Suites have a refrigerator, and feature a mini-bar (I didn't get to see its offerings).
The bathrooms are the only part of the new renovations that escaped the heavy hand of chic, urban design. The standard are small and simple with white tile, a toilet, and a shower/tub. The suites' bathrooms have marble tiles, a separate shower area, and a full-size tub. In the Presidential suite, there's even a 26-inch flat-screen TV above the tub.
The hotel offers free Wi-Fi in rooms, but it's a pain if your operating system is Windows Vista. When I asked the General Manager why this is, he said he didn't know why exactly, but Vista required an extra application to access the hotel Wi-Fi. First, I was instructed by the front desk to call a (toll-free) 1-877 number. The call center agent said I would have to go to the front desk, connect to an Ethernet cable, and download an application that would allow me to use the Wi-Fi. It's a hassle, and there is currently no plan to address it.
Noise is an issue, since the hotel is situated on a busy street. Guests I spoke to and TripAdvisor reviewers agree that floors two through four get an unacceptable amount of noise, making sleep difficult. Guests can request a higher floor, if it's available, or pay extra for one of the suites, which are all located on the top floors of the hotel.
There are two penthouse suites. To book them, there is a required $500 damage deposit. Also, 108 of the 334 rooms are smoking rooms, which is a bit of a rarity in N.Y.C., especially among major chain hotels like the Marriott or Hilton.
There's a concierge in the lobby who can book tickets to popular Broadway shows such as Mamma Mia. Right beside her is an .
A single computer sits on a counter just past the lobby. There's no seat, so guests must stand -- this helps keep the waiting time between users short, though it gets uncomfortable when the line grows long. Free Wi-Fi, however, is available in every room.
There's a gift shop in the lobby that was closed during my stay. I was told it would re-open post-renovation.
Plenty of kids' attractions are off site, but the hotel isn't the best for families. Cribs are available, but there isn't kids' food or activities.
A family of four can fit in a double room, which has two double beds, but there are no roll-away beds. Cribs are available upon request and without charge. There's no kid-friendly food or kids' activities on the premises.
The hotel Web site states that "Children 12 and under are free in room with one paying adult in existing bedding." But this doesn't exactly make sense, as the hotel does not charge per head.
Times Square is one of the busiest areas in New York City, so parents should keep a close eye on their kids. It's a generally safe tourist spot, but the crowds can be overwhelming. Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, M&M World, and Toys "R" Us are a five-minute walk from the hotel. There's a large store at the end of the block on 48th Street and Broadway.
Mediocre Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants are next door. Continental breakfast is available for $12 (incl. tip) at the lobby bar.
There are two restaurants next to the hotel that are considered on-site dining. Aoki serves mid-range Japanese fusion -- a bento box costs $22. Saigon 48 has Vietnamese cuisine, and its entrées are under $10. According to most Yelp reviews, the food at each of these places ranges from mediocre to worse.
Saigon 48. The bar's hours are listed as 3-11:30 p.m., but there aren't any locals here and it's typically empty throughout the day. For a drink fix, head to , two doors down.is just past the lobby, and it's actually part of
In the morning, Z Bar serves as the breakfast room. The continental breakfast buffet includes pastries, juice and coffee. The meal is priced at $8.95, though with tax and tip it amounts to $12. For a more filling breakfast at great prices, the front desk recommends heading to the Olympic Diner on Eighth Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets, just a two-minute walk away.
The Best Western, which completed a full renovation in September '09, has some of the lowest rates in Times Square. For a clean room with brand-new appliances, free Wi-Fi, and nothing else, it's a pretty good deal. Just be prepared for the kitschy , plus street noise in lower-level rooms.