Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Suits, ties, and families on the go -- this 770-room hotel accommodates everyone.
To put it in context: For every two briefcases at the Crowne Plaza, there seems to be one Barbie backpack. The hotel's proximity to the midtown corporate offices and the frenetic energy of Times Square brings in the spectrum from business to pleasure (with some flight attendants mixed in).
The hotel emerged in November 2008 from an $85 million renovation, and it shows -- the lobby is immaculate. But this is a place to sleep or stop over, not a place to hang out and party, and especially not a place to enjoy the cuisine. Still, if a central location and a clean, newly refurbished room are all you’re after, then this is a good deal.
Excellent, prompt service
Service is prompt. The doorman was at my cab even before I'd crawled out. Check-in took under five minutes. My request for more towels at 7:30 a.m. arrived in four minutes. My room service arrived eight minutes faster than they said it would. See a pattern? This is a well-oiled machine cranking thousands of guests in and out every month.
Several TripAdvisor reviewers complained about the service during the hotel’s 11-month overhaul (it stayed open the entire time), but that was back in 2008.
Times Square at your feet -- crowds, Broadway shows, family-friendly mega-stores, franchise restaurants, and plenty of flashing lights.
Located in Times Square, which occasionally means waiting 10 people deep to cross the street during peak hours, the Crowne Plaza is in New York’s tourist center. There's no boutique shopping in this area. Instead, there are massive family-friendly franchises like the M&M store (next door to the hotel) and other big chains like Toys R Us a few blocks away.
The vast majority of Broadway theaters and the TKTS booth (where you can buy discounted Broadway tickets) are also just a short walk from the hotel.
But unlike the major hotels in the center of the action, the Crowne Plaza feels quieter and a little more secluded, in part because the entrance isn’t that obvious from the street and in part because the rooms are surprisingly quiet despite its location in the center of the Times Square madness. To find the entrance, just look for the doorman -- it’s a little safer than craning your head to catch the Crowne Plaza sign perched on the 46-story building.
30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available 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 stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Bright, spacious, and all brand-new after a November 2008 renovation. But the look is pretty generic.
The hotel emerged in November 2008 from an $85 million renovation, and the rooms show it. OK, so the room decor is a bit generic: The blue-striped fabric on the chaise matched the bed skirt, the pillows, and the color scheme in the print on the wall. But this is a chain hotel, and a largely business-focused chain hotel at that. It's fresh and clean, minus the grapefruit-size stain on my lounge chair and the tennis-ball-size stain on the carpet in my room.
Standard rooms come with either a king-size bed or two doubles. This is a considerable improvement from most New York hotels, which only offer a queen-size bed at best. The king beds have a good six inches of extra space on either side of the pillows. Visually, it looked a little ridiculous, but I loved the firm pillows, crisp white sheets, and soft duvet.
There are no minibars in any of the rooms, which means no easy access to booze while watching TV on the 37-inch flat-screen. However, all rooms do have a coffeemaker. (Mine looked fresh out of the box.)
My corner room was the closest to the elevator, which dinged like a xylophone every few minutes. Thankfully, I couldn't hear it over the din of the heater. Even though I looked out onto Broadway, there was zero street noise from the 29th floor.
Given the 46-story, L-shaped Crowne Plaza building, many of the rooms, especially on the higher floors, come with some amazing views. I lucked out with a corner room on the 29th floor with open views to the south and east. Not only did the already large room feel even bigger with two walls of windows (the standard rooms are all roughly 425 square feet, but it's not often that you get such relatively open and expansive views short of standing on the Empire State Building's observation deck. While my corner room was randomly assigned, I highly recommend requesting a corner on a floor even higher than mine.
Bathrooms are clean, though the wallpaper in my bathroom was already beginning to peel. The water pressure in the shower was sufficient, although I stubbed my toe on a stopper that didn't sit properly in the drain. In most rooms, the sink is inside the bathroom, which makes the room look and feel larger than the corner rooms, where the sink is separate from the shower and toilet.
All rooms come with a “sleep advantage kit,” which includes an eye mask, lavender spray, and a CD to help put you to sleep. My room, however, was missing the kit as well as a pamphlet explaining the hotel's amenities. There was, however, a binder containing the extensive list of outrageously priced room-service items like an $8 fruit smoothie that comes in a bottle and a $38 strip steak.
The air conditioning and heater can be self-adjusted in every room, but it took me about 10 minutes of scouring the walls to find a control. When I gave up and called guest services, they explained that the dial is hidden behind a metal flap in what I hadn't recognized was the heater. I asked if I was the first person to ask this question. He chuckled. "Well, yeah, you're the first person who's called about it in the last five minutes."
A high-class Scotch bar and access to a great gym with a lap pool
Wi-Fi comes at a daily fee. When I asked about the prices, I was told I could use the business center (which includes all of two PCs and a printer), where the first 20 minutes are free and every minute thereafter is $1. I stuck to squinting and scrolling on my BlackBerry.
Broadway 49, the bar on the lobby floor, features more than 75 kinds of Scotch, including several aged more than 25 years. At $50 a pop, the Talisker is a good bit more expensive than the crappy breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, Brasserie 1605.
Guests have free access to the New York Sports Club on the 15th floor, which includes a lap pool -- a difficult commodity to find in the Big Apple.
Midsize dogs (less than 25 pounds) welcome, for a $100 fully refundable deposit.
Dogs less than 25 pounds are allowed at the hotel, though I didn't see any and can't imagine what it's like for a canine to poop in Times Square.
The fully refundable cleaning deposit is $100.
Big, family-size rooms in the heart of Times Square but not much else for kids, aside from the $12 burgers and chicken fingers on the kids' menu.
Rollaway beds can be wheeled into every room, but they fit best in a room with a king-size bed (as opposed to two doubles). Cribs are also available.
There is a children’s menu, but every item is $12, including the burgers and chicken fingers, except for the chicken noodle soup, which is $6.
Overpriced and skippable (unless you're desperate), the food here is not the draw.
The breakfast buffet at the hotel's restaurant, Brasserie 1605, comes at an extortionate $32, and the food was about on par with the slow elevator music that whispered through the speakers. If you are not interested in the hot items on the hotel's buffet, you may also choose the Continental Buffet for a staggering $26. I opted instead for a $14 entree that got me two greasy fried eggs, even greasier potatoes, a roasted plum tomato, toast, and the most wilted, sorriest piece of cilantro garnish I've ever seen.
Room service comes from the same restaurant and was blazingly fast. My 1605 salad with watercress, frisee, apple, Humboldt Fog cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and port vinaigrette arrived within 12 minutes (eight minutes less than I was told it would take). But the salad was dripping in dressing and came with two rolls that felt like softballs. There was also an additional $4 surcharge for delivered service. (The total, plus a Diet Coke, came to $21.61.)
The food failed, but the service, both in the dining room and from room service, certainly succeeded. Everyone was cheerful, helpful, and exceptionally prompt.
Since its 2008 renovation, the 770-room Crowne Plaza boasts spacious rooms, great views, a top-notch gym with a lap pool, and attentive service, all of which make it a premier pick in the heart of Times Square. But prepare to get gouged on the $19.95-per-day Wi-Fi and the overpriced, mediocre restaurant.
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