Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Marriott New York East Side is and isn't just another Marriott. Designed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's grandfather, it first opened in 1924 as the Shelton Hotel, a place for swinging bachelors. At the time, it was one of the city's tallest residential buildings and much excitement surrounded it. In 1926, Harry Houdini was lowered in a coffin to the bottom of the hotel's pool. Painter Georgia O'Keefe and painter Alfred Stieglitz lived there for years. In 1990 the Marriott took over, and it has been a 3.5-star chain hotel ever since.
These days, the original Shelton is only apparent in fragments, an original staircase here, an old stained-glass window there. But the dark woods and marble floors of the relatively small lobby and second floor suggest the glamour of past times. The 646 guest rooms above, however, are all modern. Renovated in 2007, they boast large HDTVs, desks with A/V hookups, and new carpeting and furnishings. The hallways also showcase (or suffer from) garish movie-theatre-esque carpeting. Today, the hotel attracts business travelers and upper middle-class families -- mostly Americans.
Blocks from Grand Central Station and alongside other big, old hotels, the Marriott is central, but quiet in the evening.
The Marriott East Side sits in a cluster of big, mostly old hotels. The Intercontinental, the W, the Waldorf Astoria, and Hotel Roger Williams are all within a block. The hotel's entrance is right on Lexington Avenue, a street busy with cars (the better to get a taxi) but relatively little foot traffic. The hotel's location in east Midtown means that the surrounding area is busy during the day when office workers arrive via subway or train at Grand Central to toil away in high-rise office buildings. After work, some of these folks stick around for a quick drink at a hotel bar (and not the Marriott's bar), but the area quickly empties out in the evenings and is relatively quiet. It's extremely safe, but not very exciting. Some sporty dive bars along Second Avenue can be a bit lively if the right game is on, but this is in no way an area known for its nightlife.
In terms of transportation, the 6 train at 51st Street, two blocks away, is the closet subway stop to the hotel. More useful is Grand Central Station, six blocks away. Visitors can grab the shuttle train there and be at Times Square in less than five minutes, or pretty much anywhere else in Manhattan in less than 45 minutes.
30-90 minutes from three airports. Take a taxi, a shuttle, or public transit.
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 (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.
With adjoining rooms, pay-per-view kids movies aplenty, and a quiet location, the Marriott East Side is popular with families.
Though the Marriot East Side attracts a business crowd, it also draws more families than neighboring hotels, like the Intercontinental, the W, and the Roosevelt. Adjoining rooms are available by request (no guarantees). Roll-aways and cribs are free, but a superior room or larger is needed to accommodate them. The extensive pay-per-view movie selection featured dozens of "kids & family."
For guests needing a babysitter, the concierge can make arrangements through a third-party childcare agency that specializes in caring for children in from out of town.
Located in quiet but central Midtown East, this Marriott has what you'd expect from the big chain (comfy, clean rooms, friendly staff, mediocre food), plus more -- a location with some history, freshly renovated rooms, great electronics, and a fancy top-floor gym with great views of the city. It's not cheap, but nothing is in this part of town.