Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The property formerly known as the Shelburne Murray completed a renovation by the Affinia chain of urban boutique hotels in 2009, getting its new name in the process. Fittingly located in Manhattan's largely residential, somewhat sleepy Murray Hill neighborhood, the mid-priced Affinia Shelburne is a quiet, low-key, modestly upscale property that appeals to a wide range of travelers, from the young business traveler to tourists in their golden years.
The 325 rooms have cheery contrasting colors: light blue lounge chairs sit opposite burnt orange desk chairs, lime green headboards back orange printed pillows. The look and feel is sleek but not slick, contemporary but still warm and comfortable -- and not edgy.
Affinia is into allowing guests to "customize" their stay: Its My Affinia program lets you choose (in advance if you want, via the web) from among six types of pillows and dozens of other supplementary amenities, ranging from cupcakes to a rented guitar, some for free and some for an added fee.
You would never say that the Affinia Shelburne has a scene per se, but the off-the-lobby Rare Bar and Grill has become a destination in its own right, thanks to creative gourmet burgers that run from a no-frills basic to a stuffed Kobe sirloin infused with Roquefort cheese and cipollini onions. And in the summertime months, Rare View lures young 20- and 30-somethings up to the 16th floor with cocktails and scenic views of the Chrysler Building and Empire State.
Slightly cheaper (but not 24-hour) room service from the downstairs burger grill, plus free travel toiletries, and a concierge that will arrange grocery shopping and secretiarial service
The Affinia group prides itself on its above-and-beyond service, for a room price that's still significantly below exceptional service-oriented, five-star places like the Four Seasons.
In the quiet Murray Hill neighborhood, a bit of a hike from most popular tourist attractions and a few blocks from the main subway lines -- but near plenty of pubs and affordable restaurants.
The Affinia Shelburne is located in the middle of Murray Hill, a largely residential neighborhood on Manhattan's east side known for its mix of classic 19th-century townhouses and towering high rises that run from 34th to 42nd Streets. It's a bit sleepy, though a migration to the area of young professionals in their 20s and 30s has led to a considerably more bustling nightlife over the years, with Third Avenue now home to a substantial strip of bars and restaurants. The area generally lacks tourist attractions (save for the Empire State Building) but it's conveniently poised between the Midtown business district and all that downtown Manhattan has to offer.
Specifically sited at the corner of 37th Street and Lexington Avenue, the hotel is also just five short blocks from Grand Central Station, a major transit hub where subway lines can quickly shoot you up toward Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, down to Greenwich Village or SoHo, or across to the west side. Taxis fly down Lexington (and up Third Avenue, a block to the east) at all hours of the day and night. And consistent foot traffic will make the entire neighborhood a safe place to wander during the day and even fairly late into the night.
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there 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.
The once-stale interiors of the old Shelburne Murray have been totally revamped with comfortable and sleek (but not slick) contemporary furniture in surprising but tasteful colors. This is a full-suite hotel with 325 rooms: studio suites that run 325-400 square feet and sometimes have kitchenettes; studio deluxe suites (400-450 square feet), each with a living room and full kitchen; and one- and two-bedroom suites (450-950 square feet) with large living rooms with dining areas, separate bedrooms, and full kitchens. Kitchens come with a stove, fridge, and microwave, and are fully stocked with kitchen and dining equipment.
All rooms are outfitted with "spa-like" bathroom. Careful thought (and money) went into the rich black granite countertops, the marble-tiled bathtub, and the tasteful lighting that gives the room a candle-lit glow. Add in Affinia’s selection of Philosophy toiletries, and this feels like the massage room of a New York spa.
Fido stays for a one-time fee -- but there's no weight limit. And the concierge can hook him up with everything from a birthday cake to a psychic.
Although it used to be free, the hotel now charges a one-time fee for keeping a pet in the room -- but there's no weight limit and pets of all kinds (and they mean all kinds) are welcome. This is actually where animal trainer Jack Hanna's entire menagerie stays when he goes on Letterman.
Guests must sign a standard waiver to pay for any damage their pet incurs. Guests will be furnished with food, water bowls, doggie sidewalk bags or cat litter pans, and a list of pet-friendly restaurants and resources. The “Happytails Travel Dog Spa Amenity,” available for an extra charge, includes skin moisturizer, odor remover, mosquito repellent, and a bad-breath zapper. There is no end to what the concierge can arrange for your pet, from customary grooming and dog-walking services to gourmet birthday cakes to a pet taxi -- even a pet psychic for your troubled parakeet.
Roomy suites with kitchens, a relaxed vibe, an abundance of family-friendly restaurants nearby, and a few kid-friendly bonuses (like board games).
The basics are certainly covered: Rollaways are a nightly fee, and cribs and high chairs are available at no cost. The suites are huge -- from 350 to as big as 950 square feet -- and the larger ones feature separate dining and kitchen areas. And the neighborhood has an abundance of family-friendly restaurants, including the burger joint Rare Bar and Grill off the lobby.
At the time of booking, parents can request a quiet room and extra amenities for their family -- from necessities like cribs and high chairs to accessories like a rubber duckie, cupcakes, and the Walking Tour Experience Kit. Or they can invest in the entire My Family package, which comes with a children's backpack filled with a Frommer’s guide book for kids, playing cards, a digital camera, and a sticker scrapbook. Kids also have free access to a chest of board games, family DVDs, craft kits, and books.
Gourmet burgers off the lobby and countless good restaurants within walking distance.
The restaurant in the Affinia Shelburne, Rare Bar and Grill, flips one of the better burgers in the city. Despite its name, Rare is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
Room service is available from Rare Bar and Grill for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And for stocking the kitchenette, there are grocery stores and bodegas around every corner. Guests can also order from the grocery delivery website Fresh Direct (or have the concierge do it).
Located in sleepy Murray Hill, the Affinia Shelburne is a bit of a hike from most popular tourist attractions, but the abundance of reasonably priced restaurants nearby -- as well as the hotel’s own rooftop bar and inventive burger grill -- make this comfortable, low-key property a solid mid-price option. The spacious suites have marble tubs and colorful custom-made furniture.