Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Though once a W, and still hanging on to its scenester origins, the 198-room Court's unassuming location on a residential block makes it feel a bit more approachable.
In April 2010, the London-based St. Giles hotel group took over two Starwood-managed W-brand hotels, the Court and the Tuscany (located around the corner). Since the buyout, little has changed in the hotel proper -- the elevators were called "lifts" before for no clear reason; now there's a reason. But what the Court lost in its name-change is essentially its W essence. No more Whatever/Whenever service. No more shuttles around town in a supped-up Accura SUV. No more Bliss-brand bath products. No more signature scented candles in the lobby. The once notable restaurant, Icon, underwent renovations which were completed in August 2010 and its adjacent after-work lounge cum nightclub, once Wetbar, didn't quite draw the same flashy crowd during my stay that it once did. After some renovations that were completed after my stay, Wetbar re-opened as Lex Bar in August 2010.
As for the Court hotel itself, there isn't much to it. It's housed in a trim prewar brick building on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 39th Street, a mellow area on the border between the corporate centers of Midtown East and the quieter residential condos of Murray Hill. The lobby is still filled with tall, angular flower arrangements and lighting that changes color and mood throughout the day. But beyond the lobby, there's no gym (you'll have to walk--but only half a block--to the Tuscany for that), no business center (but free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel), and no spa. What you're paying for is a little ambiance, an excellent bed, and an above-average-size guestroom -- a fair tradeoff, for the price, when you compare it to similar properties nearby like the Hotel Chandler. But if you plan to work out, it's worth the slight price bump to stay at the Tuscany.
All the essentials
The hotel's Murray Hill location is convenient, if not terribly glamorous.
The hotel is at the corner of busy Lexington Avenue and East 39th Street, three short blocks from the trains and multiple subway lines of Grand Central Station, in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. Bryant Park and the Morgan Library Museum are both within walking distance, as are many shops and restaurants of every ethnicity, not to mention a plethora of sports bars on Third Avenue.
Primarily residential, the neighborhoods of Gramercy and Murray Hill don't have the tourist crowds of Times Square or Midtown East (just a few blocks north). For most visitors, the main draw is that it's a quiet, convenient place to stay, just outside the theaters, funky shops, and restaurants of the East Village (to the south) and the business-focused hub and high-end 5th Avenue shopping of Midtown East (to the north).
Rooms start at a generous 350 square feet
Holding to the sleek, mood-lit designs of the W, the Court's guestrooms are as stylish as they are comfortable. But the bathroom feels incredibly stark when compared to the bedroom's dark, velvety tones. One thing they do share is mood lighting: the bathroom features just one fluorescent light, hardly enough to expose one's imperfections in the mirror. And, like most older buildings in New York City, every few hours the pipes clang so loudly it sounds like Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption) is tunneling his way through the wall. Together with one wall painted in an ugly putty color (plus scuffs), the bathroom doesn't quite hold to luxury-level standards. Fortunately, all rooms are scheduled for renovations until late 2012.
All rooms include:
The gym is fantastic... except it's down the street.
Although you have to walk two doors down to get there, guests of The Court have access to the excellent gym at the St. Giles sister, The Tuscany. Formerly known as Sweat, when both hotels were members of Starwoods upscale W chain, the gym, while not huge, features all the top-of-the-line equipment you could want, including four treadmills, four ellipticals, and three bikes, all with video screens and cable channels. The Tuscany is now closed for renovations, and the hotel offers free passes to a local fitness center located nearby.
On site, however, there isn't a business center.
Restaurant and in-room dining onsite; the neighborhood is rich in restaurants.
The onsite restaurant, Icon, re-opened in August 2010 and its kitchen provides 24-hour room service. While the contemporary American fare is generally well reviewed, and prompt, it can be a bit pricy: entrees average about $25 to $30. More moderately-priced options include tender and juicy hamburgers and Mediterannean hummus appetizers.
What's great about the Court's location, though, is that guests have plenty of dining options in the immediate vicinity. Within a block of the hotel I counted two diners, two delis, a bagel place, sushi, Chinese, Indian, Italian, and Thai restaurants. A Starbucks and a Dunkin' Donuts are both within two short blocks, and nearby Third and Second avenues are both packed with great neighborhood restaurants and tons of bars.
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 (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 to 25 percent.
To save some cash, you could try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. 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.
The 198-room St. Giles Hotel was once a member of the hip W chain, but little has changed since its new owners took over in 2010. It's located in Murray Hill, a convenient base for exploring the city, and its large rooms come with wonderful beds. All around, it's a fine hotel, but the gym is half a block away at the Tuscany.
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