Historic 1926 property that was completely renovated in 2016
Great Midtown East location, a six-minute walk from Grand Central
Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and MoMa are within a 15-minute walk
Sophisticated rooms have minibars, safes, and Keurig coffeemakers
Suites add spacious living areas and Nespresso machines
All-day Gin Parlour serves well-reviewed fare and 88 types of gin, plus live jazz performances
Available room service
24-hour, well-equipped gym has treadmills with individual media screens
Extensive meeting and event space
Free Wi-Fi in common areas
Valet parking (for a fee)
Corporate vibe may be less appealing to tourists
No spa or pool facilities
Some complaints of noise reaching rooms
Pricey room Wi-Fi unless an IHG Rewards Club member
Expensive buffet breakfast for what's offered
The four-pearl InterContinental New York Barclay is a historic 1926-opened property located a six-minute walk north of Grand Central Terminal and eight minutes from Rockefeller Center. A $180 million renovation in 2016 updated interiors, though the design retains the feel of its '20s beginnings. The 702 rooms are elegant, outfitted with custom-designed furniture, coffeemakers, bathrobes, and flat-screen TVs, plus separate living areas and striking wall murals in some. Features aren't extensive -- there are no spa or pool facilities -- but they include a gin bar and restaurant, well-equipped gym, and business center. Corporate groups often make use of the extensive meeting space. This is a suitable pick for business travelers, but tourists might prefer the smaller and more stylish Benjamin nearby, which offers Federico Hair & Spa and a well-regarded bistro.
Historic hotel with interiors that reflect its 1920s opening
Designed by New York Central Railroad in the early 1920s (and funded by the Vanderbilt family), the 15-story InterContinental Barclay is in many ways a classic American-style hotel (though its parent company, IHG, hails from across the pond). After being largely stuck in the past with dated interiors, the hotel underwent a top-to-bottom $180 million renovation that was completed in April 2016. The design pays homage to its beginnings with a "Federalist style" that consists of marble, brass accents, and patterns that are reminiscent of the '20s and '30s. A large lobby has an old-fashioned but sophisticated look, with ample seating areas, reception desks backed by gold-framed oil paintings, and a winding staircase that leads to meeting spaces. Also on the ground floor is an open-plan fine-dining eatery and gin bar, which is popular with the after-work crowd, particularly on nights that the hotel hosts live jazz bands.
While the building has played host to President Reagan, Nelson Mandela, Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, and Ernest Hemingway, it now lures a more international corporate crowd. The extensive on-site meeting facilities and nearby offices mean business travelers are often seen on their phones, typing at laptops, or shuffling between common areas. With reasonable room rates, this is a decent pick for the aforementioned business visitors, but tourists will likely be happier at the more luxurious Lowell, or the more modern W New York.
Set in Midtown East, a short walk from Grand Central Terminal
The InterContinental Barclay is located in Midtown East, a neighborhood that has long been a favorite for visitors who come to the city for both work and play. Though the immediate blocks surrounding the hotel feel like a "hotel district," business travelers like the area because it is convenient to the offices of nearly every Fortune 500 company, and is just six blocks from Grand Central, which services all east-side subway lines. Taxis are easy to hail (except in inclement weather), since the immediate area is chock-full of hotels with guests eager for a lift. Most of the Midtown neighborhood is considerably less empty in the evenings and late at night. Still, because there are so many higher end hotels in the immediate area -- with doormen loitering out front -- safety shouldn't be a huge concern for guests.
Leisure guests enjoy the central location of the hotel, which is convenient to popular tourist destinations, including Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and MoMa -- all are within a two- to six-block radius. The Theater District and the lights and crowds of Times Square are a 10- to 15-minute walk to the west. Other areas of interest include Central Park, an 843-acre haven for the urban outdoorsman, just 20 blocks (a 20-minute walk) north of the hotel. The hotel has hosted several high-profile guests in town to visit the U.N., which is about a 10-minute walk away. The hotel is also convenient to Lexington Avenue shopping, which includes favorites like Bloomingdales.
John F. Kennedy International Airport is about a 50-minute taxi ride. LaGuardia Airport is about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
Elegant rooms with '20s feel and upscale amenities
Renovated in 2016, rooms have a sophisticated look inspired by its 1920s beginnings. Rooms mostly look the same, outfitted in gray square-maze-patterned carpet, custom-designed wood furniture with brass accents, gray-leather headboards and bed frames, mustard-yellow armchair, and oval tables that also act as desks. White walls are spruced up with lovely gallery walls, and some rooms have beautifully striking murals in the Hudson River School style. Built-in units have Keurig coffeemakers and minibars, while adjacent wardrobes house electronic safes and bathrobes. Flat-screen TVs are also provided. Black-and-white checkered bathrooms have sizable subway-tiled showers with affixed and handheld showerheads, magnifying mirrors, Agraria toiletries, and hairdryers.
The 31 spacious suites, meanwhile, trade the mustard-yellow accents for red accents, Keurig machines for Nespresso machines, and 42-inch TVs for 55-inch TVs. Suites have separate living areas with pullout sofas and decorative fireplaces. Bathrooms upgrade to Caswell-Massey toiletries, an apothecary that used to own space downstairs.
Wi-Fi is free in common areas and everywhere for IHG Rewards members, but otherwise, there's a pricey daily fee for in-room access. The program is free to join. Note that some past guests have complained of external noise reaching rooms.
Fine-dining restaurant and gin bar, but no spa or pool facilities
The Gin Parlour is most notable for its collection of 88 types of gin, but it also serves a well-regarded menu of classic fare like burgers, roasted chicken, and scallops. A buffet breakfast is also available, but it's quite pricey ($40 for hot and cold fare during our stay) for what's provided. Room service is available, but not 24/7. Some nights, the hotel houses live jazz by the restaurant.
Surprisingly for a hotel of this size and pearl rating, this InterContinental lacks any spa or pool facilities. Instead, it uses its expansive square footage to house several meeting and event spaces, which are frequently used by corporations and wedding parties. There is a modern, 24-hour gym that's well-equipped with free weights, weight-training machines, and TechnoGym cardio machines with personal media screens. Off the lobby is a den-like space housing a concierge desk and business center with New York-themed bookshelves, a couple of computers, and a printer. Wi-Fi is free in common areas and everywhere for IHG Rewards members, but otherwise, there's a pricey daily fee for in-room access.
Pets up to 50 pounds are allowed for an expensive nightly fee. Valet parking is available for a fee.
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