- Rooms are small and stuffy with dim lighting and worn furniture
- TVs come with limited channels
- Fee for Wi-Fi
- No breakfast
- No fitness center
Charming on the outside, but the interior needs some updating
Astor on the Park's worn interior are lacking, but the surroundings are much more charming. The budget hotel is right on Central Park West in Manhattan's Upper West Side, and as soon as you step outside the 11-story building, the sprawling greenery of Central Park is right across the street. The face of the quaint hotel is adorned by elegantly sculpted stone, climbing ivy, and pine trees, although there was construction scaffolding nearly overtaking the block during our visit. Visitors may have to pass piles of garbage on adjacent streets (common in New York before pick-up days) to reach nearby delis, restaurants, and stores.
The cozy lobby has a modern yet homely feel, and red-toned light bulbs set the mood. Wooden and tan bench-style couches with black and white pillows line the areas by the front door and front desk. The floor has chunky checkerboard tiles and the pale green walls are accented with a handful of abstract paintings. The tiny phone booth beside the elevator adds to the lobby's quirkiness. Behind the main couch, a narrow staircase leads down to an area housing the vending machine, business center, and "kitchenette." The snack machine -- situated beside an unattractive stack of rolled-up old rugs -- could use restocking. Only one soda machine looked like it was working when we were there. A prepaid phone card dispenser and a selection of Broadway brochures are available, although Broadway is much farther downtown. A small computer station with two computers and a printer is right next to where the staff stores their unused chairs. It's easy to miss. There's also a small, unlit sitting area beneath the stairs; it's an unlikely spot to willingly venture downstairs to visit. On the upside, this hotel isn't a busy one, so there's enough room to maneuver through the lobby, and hallways are quiet enough that guests can nap in their rooms during downtime.
Commuter-friendly with front row access to New York City's biggest park
The Astor is not in the center of the tourist hubbub -- rather, it's on the far Upper West Side, within a 15-minute walk to Columbia University. It's also across the street from Central Park, a major tourist attraction. The hotel has no fitness facility, but those looking for exercise can get it on Central Park's jogging, walking, and cycling paths. The neighborhood has rich Hispanic culture and distinct charm; it is home to apartment buildings, brownstones, stores, delis, and restaurants. While there are several options for dining and shopping nearby, it's easy to get to the busier city attractions downtown. The closest station for the B and C trains is three blocks away, and the commute into Midtown is a little over 20 minutes.
Tiny with visible wear and tear, but bathrooms look updated
The Astor's 112 rooms smell heavily of cleaning products. They can also get stuffy, as there is no way to open up the windows, thanks to the noisy, bolted-in air-conditioning units. The dimly lit rooms -- all of which are very small -- follow a minimalist design scheme, with pale green walls, brown carpets, and limited art (just a sole bland, framed piece on one wall). There are small nightstands on either side of the full-size bed, equipped with lamps, alarm clocks, phones, and drinking glasses. The tiny and considerably ill-equipped space is visibly worn. The doors on the wardrobe don't fully close, there are marks on the wall, and the leather from the bed frame is peeling. Guests staying for long periods of time must personally request irons and ironing boards for their rooms. The pillows intended for sleeping are tough and small like couch cushions. If you want to bring back food from eating out (since there is no on-site dining at the hotel), the lack of refrigerator in the room will be problematic. Television channels are extremely limited (many are in Spanish) and many room views are of an air shaft (albeit a big one). On the upside, the marble bathrooms are much more updated, with a glass vanities and shower dividers, adjustable showerheads, hairdryers, and an assortment of fragrant soaps, shampoos, and lotions. The long hallways outside of the rooms are white painted brick.
Only expect the bare necessities
The hotel is geared for those who want to stay in the borough of Manhattan for a low price point. While guests can exercise in Central Park across the street, a fitness center would prove more beneficial in the colder months. There is a fee to use the hotel's Wi-Fi and the two computers in the corner of the basement hardly qualify as a business center. The hotel also does not provide breakfast for guests. There are, however, snack, beverage and coffee vending machines in the basement.