Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Stylish for a 1,306-room mid-range hotel, the Hyatt draws business travelers, weddings, and plenty of tourists to its Midtown East tower, only steps from Grand Central Station.
With 1,306 guest rooms, five ballrooms, 45 conference rooms, and nearly 1,000 staff members to keep everything straight and tidy, the Grand Hyatt is a constantly bustling large chain hotel. Located on busy 42nd Street, and next to the landmarked and equally busy Grand Central Terminal, the Grand Hyatt suits both small and large parties for both work and vacation. A massive, $130 million renovation in 2011 reinvented the hotel, with new art installations and a bold new look for the entire property.
The hotel enlisted a few different artists for the renovation, including Jaume Plensa, who is known for his giant public art pieces like Crown Fountain in Millennium Park in Chicago, and Per Fronth, whose photography hangs throughout the building. The hotel also gave makeovers to guestrooms, suites, and the Empire Ballroom, in addition to welcoming new event space Gallery on Lex, and restaurants New York Central and Market.
The lobby features two giant Easter Island-looking macael marble sculptures from Plensa, one in a "water-wall" fountain, and the other on a white onyx pedestal. Leather couches and seating areas also help give the lobby a sleek look.
Originally named the Commodore Hotel after "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, the property first opened in 1919 and offered accommodations for $2.50 a night with the slogan: "A room and a bath for two and half." Financier Donald Trump made the Hyatt his first pet project when he took over ownership in 1980 (and raised the prices accordingly).
Legendary crowds and a legendary street make for a busy but convenient location.
To say that 42nd Street between Park and Lexington avenues is busy would be a gross understatement. Sitting directly next to Grand Central Terminal -- and its five subway lines -- means the Grand Hyatt is smack in the middle of one of the most constantly congested and transient hubs of the city. Because of this, police officers and security are always plentiful, and the hotel's block is fairly safe.
However, because the neighborhood is primarily a business district, visitors will be hard-pressed to find restaurants and cafes at the end of the business day, unless they head next door to Grand Central Station. Across the street is world-famous Cipriani, but it operates for the business set and isn't even open on the weekends.
Several big-chain retailers are connected to Grand Central Station. From Banana Republic to Strawberry's to Kenneth Cole, the shops on this block keep early hours with the hopes of catching a commuter with time to kill. During the winter holiday season, Grand Central Terminal hosts one of the city's many craft and artisan fairs.
There are several other points of interest in the vicinity. With its iconic stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, the New York Public Library's main branch is not just an old building filled with books. The library hosts a wide range free events and exhibitions during the day as well as evening. Plus, the wedding scene in the "Sex and the City" movie occured on the library's grand staircase.
Just behind the library is Bryant Park, the famed green space for the midtown working world. Movable tables and chairs create a French-style park where visitors picnic (there is always a long line at the 'wichcraft sandwich kiosk) and hang out. A carousel, imported from France, belts out Edith Piaf. Bryant Park transforms into an ice skating rink during the winter and holds a popular film series in the summer.
30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, 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.
Guestrooms and suites feature contemporary decor with fabrics in shades of champagne and plum, and have updated technology. They're not huge, but the 250-square-foot standard rooms are a little bit larger than the average New York City hotel room (most rooms in this city come in about 200 square feet). The executive single, at 266 square feet, might be considered a mansion by comparison. Redesigned VIP suites are ideal for families or longer stays, and are available as Loft or Residential Suites.
A modern fitness center and a quality business center -- too bad there's a pesky fee for Wi-Fi.
There is a well-equipped fitness center on the penthouse level. There are plenty of treadmills, LifeCycle cardio bikes, Stairmasters, StairClimbers, assorted weight-training equipment, and free weights, all of which are brand-new. The cardio equipment also has built-in TVs. Towel service and filtered water are available. Guest services is happy to coordinate with several local gyms to set up a trainer, or you can watch an on-demand yoga instruction video on the TV in your room for a very small fee. Mat rental is free; guests only need to call down and have one sent up.
The business center is armed to handle a high volume of worker bees staying at the hotel, with several PCs, printers, and fax machines, and a helpful staff member on hand for anything else. Wi-Fi is available throughout the building for a fee.
The Grand Club lounge on the 16th floor offers food and drink service, and features a terrace with tables and lounge chairs. Free breakfast is served daily.
Though mostly a business-leaning hotel, the clean, decent-size rooms are fine for families. But there are no "real" cribs, just playpens.
Some parents may find the hustle and bustle of 42nd Street to be a bit much with kids, but those who are brave --and patient -- enough will find the neighborhood exciting for the little ones.
An upscale fine dining restaurant, a 24-hour gourmet take-out spot, and a stylish lounge
Catering to families, business travelers, and major conventions, the 1,306-room Grand Hyatt lies next to Grand Central Station -- a prime location in New York’s corporate center. Comfortable rooms, prompt service, an excellent fine dining restaurant, and a nice gym make this Midtown East giant a decent value.
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