Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A comfortable bet at a fair price
The 226-room Holiday Inn on 6th Avenue opened in mid-2008 in the artsy Chelsea neighborhood. At 175 square feet, rooms are small, even for New York. But modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and little touches like classical music in guest-rooms make this definitely above par. To top it off, the staff is eager to make a great impression.
It's not a fancy hotel by any standard. The tiny -- and often crowded -- lobby makes it obvious that this isn't a place to hang out. The free on-site fitness center and business center are basic, but both have new equipment. The elevators are a bit slow (housekeeping shares them with the guests). But the hotel is clean, and for leisure travelers who don't plan on spending much time in their rooms, it's a great deal.
The hotel is on a semi-quiet street near art galleries, flower warehouses, and two subway lines.
Running from 14th Street to 34th Street on Manhattan's west side, Chelsea is the center of both Manhattan's gay community and, with over 350 art galleries, its contemporary art scene. It's also home to an eclectic mix of home antique stores, design boutiques, and endless sample sales (including the famous Barney's Warehouse Sale), not to mention the Chelsea Market, a former Oreo cookie factory turned foodie paradise chockablock with bakeries, restaurants, and gourmet goodies.
Within Chelsea, the Holiday Inn is located in an area sometimes called the Flower District; it's where wholesale florists hold shop, but you won't see the flowers out on the street. It's a pretty low-key, mostly residential neighborhood (compared with the bustling tourist centers like Times Square, 20 short blocks north). The downside is that it takes a little bit of effort to go anywhere. The closest subway lines (the N and the R) run along Broadway -- the spine of Manhattan. But the station is on 28th Street and Broadway, about a five-minute walk from the hotel. From here you can launch uptown or downtown, but the station is considerably less connected than areas like Times Square, which is a connecting hub for about a dozen lines.
Self-parking is available on the same block for $35/night. This is a hotel rate, so parking ticket must be validated by the hotel.
The Holiday Inn has upped its game with this new property. Rooms have modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs with premium cable (including HBO), and free Wi-Fi with a strong in-room connection. The bed even has two pairs of pillows, neatly tied in a bow and labeled "firm" and "soft." When I entered the room, Vivaldi was playing on the classical music channel -- a great touch.
Beds are a step up from more expensive chains like the Courtyard by Marriott on Fifth Avenue. The Serta mattress featured in the Holiday Inn rooms, for example, is a far cry more comfortable than the flimsy bedding at the Marriott property.
At 175 square feet, the rooms are very small, with just two feet of space between the bed and a work desk. A large window lets in natural light, so the room doesn't feel claustrophobic, and a realtor might call it "cozy," with the bed almost directly beside the window. On the nightstand, there's a coffee machine oddly placed on a shelf near the ground. There was obviously no room to put it elsewhere.
The bathroom is also tiny, but it's immaculate and the towels are folded into a simple but pretty design. But it's tough to leave the door open since the bathroom is directly in line with the bedroom window. I realized too late that there was a music class going on across from my room.
Room service is available from Prime Café, the hotel restaurant. The in-room dining menu is limited to burgers and salads. Considering how small the room is, it's better to dine at the restaurant's lovely dining room which has a more extensive Italian and American menu.
This 23-story hotel offers only two room types: a king guest-room (with a king-size bed) and a double guest-room (with two double beds). There's no price difference between the floors, so for a great view, I recommend asking for a street-facing room at or near the 23rd floor. These rooms overlook the neighborhood and have a view of the Financial District and the Hudson River.
Smoking rooms are available only on the second and third floors. Ice machines and vending machines are available on floors four, nine, 15, and 20.
There's free Wi-Fi and a hard-wired Internet connection in every room. The Wi-Fi connection was strong in my 14th-floor room. The business center is an enclosed room with two PCs and a copy/fax machine, both of which guests can use free of charge. Even printing is free! This is significant, since other hotel chains like the Westin Times Square charge for computer and Internet use, as well as other services like faxing and copying.
The fitness center has only two treadmills, an elliptical machine, and an exercise bike. Sparse offerings, though the BH equipment looks new.
Rooms are small, but there's enough space for a family of four. Plus, kids get free breakfast.
The double guest-room is enough for a family of four, but not more since there's no space for a roll-away bed. Complimentary cribs are available.
Kids 12 and under get a free breakfast with certain conditions. They must be accompanied by an adult ordering from the regular menu, and there's a limit of four kids per family. Also, the offer is not available for room service. The kids' menu has five options: pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, fruit and yogurt, or cereal with a banana. A glass of orange juice or milk is included.
The neighborhood doesn't have a lot of kids' attractions, but Madison Square Park is a good place for the kids to blow off steam, and it's just a five-minute walk away. The burger joint inside the park, Shake Shack, is a legend (note the long lines).
Pets less than 15 pounds are allowed with a $25 charge.
Pets less than 15 pounds are allowed in the hotel. There is a non-refundable $25 charge.
Built in mid-2008, this hotel is very clean and looks brand-new. However, the smell of detergent can be too strong.
Not only is this eight-month-old hotel very clean, it might be too clean. The smell of cleaning detergent is everywhere. Rooms are overpowered by the scent of air freshener. To top it off, the over-zealous housekeeper left a smudge of white detergent powder on the carpet, probably in her pursuit of keeping my room spic-and-span.
The bathrooms look brand-new. The towels are neatly folded into a simple and elegant design, with a sealed bar of soap thoughtfully inserted into a hand towel.
Beautiful atrium dining with American-Italian fare at a reasonable price, but the $16 breakfast is over-priced.
Prime Café is one of the nicest restaurant settings attached to a mid-range hotel chain. Done in a Tuscan style, the bar and foyer's stone walls, mood lighting, and wooden furniture evoke a rustic, cozy ambience. But the real feature is the glass atrium dining room. During the day, light pours in from every angle, making the space appear like a bright and quiet enclave in the middle of Manhattan.
The menu is a mixture of American bar food like surf and turf and Italian fare like veal marsala. An 8-ounce American Kobe burger costs $18 -- not a bad price for premium beef. The average entrée is $22. The dishes are hearty and generous, making this place a good choice for guests who don't want to go far for food. If you're up for a 10-minute walk, take the concierge's recommendation for traditional Italian at Beppe on 22nd Street near Broadway.
More than the restaurant, the Lounge at Prime Café attracts guests with its fully stocked bar and flat-screen TVs tuned into whatever game is on. Vinny the manager says a lot of locals stop by too. The cocktail list includes the Southern Gentleman (Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, vermouth) and the Big Apple Pie Shot (Bacardi, amaretto, half and half). The bar stays open until 2 a.m. (closing two hours earlier than most Manhattan bars).
À la carte breakfast is served at the Prime Cafe from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Best4Value Breakfast comes with two eggs, bacon, and a bread of choice (whole wheat, white, or English muffin) for $16. It's a filling meal, and the skylight adds a lot to the experience, but the $16 price is hardly a "value."
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time consuming. From JFK, it's a flat-rate $45 (one-hour) taxi to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a $40 (30-minute) metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls) and can take over 1.5 hours. Don't forget to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
To save some cash, group shuttles 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. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7 per person, but travel times 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.
Opened in 2008, this modern 226-room Holiday Inn is a great value. Rooms are particularly small, but they're clean and all have flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and comfy beds. The on-site gym and business center are big pluses for the price. Just note that its location in artsy Chelsea is 20 blocks from the tourist hubs.