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San Carlos Hotel 3.5

Midtown East, New York City, New York

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Review Summary

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  • Central, midtown location within walking distance of Rockefeller Center
  • Clean, spacious rooms with flat-screen TVs and iPod docks
  • Solid fitness room
  • Free Wi-Fi


  • Dull, usually empty lobby and no bar
  • Many rooms face a brick wall and get little light
  • No dedicated concierge

Bottom Line

In the words of the hotel’s owner, “We’re not cool, but we’re comfortable.” Indeed, this comfortable and well-located hotel in Midtown East has nice features like free Wi-Fi, 24-hour fitness room, and spacious rooms, but it lacks character, even for a mid-range place catering primarily to business travelers.

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Definitely no spontaneous dance parties at this quiet and generic hotel catering primarily to business travelers.

“We’re not cool ... we’re comfortable,” says Hy Arbesfeld owner and president of the San Carlos -- and that about sums up the hotel. Its rooms are clean, very spacious, and completely devoid of pomp, flash, or pretention. The San Carlos might be called an institution -- not in an opulent way, but in a you-know-what-you’re-going-to-get kind of way. It's one of the last hotels in the city not owned by a conglomerate, and there's something to be said for a family-run hotel, especially one that's been in the family since 1971.

There's a loyal following of repeat guests who come over and over again to this sleepy but comfortable hotel, which is next door to the decidedly flashier and more upscale Benjamin.

Amenities are minimal, but there are highlights: a great business center with computers, and a 24-hour fitness room

The San Carlos may look and feel a little generic, but it's a solid mid-range option.


Huge rooms, free Wi-Fi and a good fitness room.

Other than the generous size of the rooms, one of the best aspects of this hotel is its location -- Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and all of 5th Avenue’s shops and boutiques within a 10-minute walk.


Spacious, comfortable, and wired, but some rooms have little natural light.

At 350 square feet, deluxe rooms are significantly larger than the average boxy New York hotel digs. Rooms come with a king, a queen, or two queens, and a full kitchenette replete with utensils and microwave, making this a great option for families, even though the hotel tends to attract primarily business travelers.

  • Beds had firm mattresses, thick duvets, firm pillows, and clean sheets
  • 32-inch LG flat-screen TV
  • iPod docking station
  • A safe (that, unfortunately, is not large enough for a laptop)
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
  • Bathrooms are small but clean and functional, and stocked with soft bath towels and Aveda bath products.
  • Minibar
  • A small, separate pantry has a refrigerator, dishes, a coffeemaker, and a microwave.


Central, walking distance to Times Square and Rockefeller Center, but still quiet.

The 147-room San Carlos hotel is located in a mini hotel district in Midtown East; within one block are the Benjamin and Dumont hotels.

Many of the city's most popular tourist sights and attractions are located within a 15-minute walk of the hotel, including Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square and Fifth Avenue.

The 6 train is one block away, which runs up and down the eastern side of Manhattan, and Grand Central, one of the main subway hubs in the city, is only eight blocks away.

New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than 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.


Free cribs and cots, and big rooms, but staid vibe isn't terribly inviting to families.

Management says the hotel doesn't host a lot of families -- not surprising given the staid vibe -- and there's nothing particularly kid-friendly about the hotel. But cribs and cots are free, the rooms are easily big enough to accommodate them, and the hotel is close to plenty of kid-friendly attractions.

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Things You Should Know About San Carlos Hotel


150 East 50th Street, New York City, New York 10022-9500, United States


(212) 755-1800

Also Known As

  • Hotel San Carlos
  • San Carlos Hotel New York
  • San Carlos New York City

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Executive Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite

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