Close to Midtown East corporate centers, but some local charm
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Rooms have flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and DVD players
Three blocks from four subway lines
Rooms facing Lexington Avenue get traffic noise all night long
Gym is located down the street in sister property
No business center
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.
Once a W property, the 198-room Court is a solid upscale pick, but could use a refresh
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 and is now Beer & Buns, serving perfectly good but unexciting food.
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 filled with large white columns surrounded by leather seating and a small front desk. 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 guest room -- 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.
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).
Three blocks from the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines at Grand Central Station
The Court's guest rooms are comfortable but dated. Brown carpeting, dark wooden furniture, and brown bedspreads are dull, only accented by pops of red in the throw pillows and chaise loungers with ill-fitted slipcovers. Framed black-and-white photos are welcome touches. The bathrooms have beige tiling, shower/tub combos, and bath products by Earlsly & Windsor. 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.
The hotel's smallest "Superior" standard room, at 350 square feet, is nearly twice the size of a typical hotel room in New York City. Deluxe rooms are even larger: 400 to 425 square feet.
One-bedroom suites range from 650 to 700 square feet, and also include a Bose/Bang&Olufsen Surround Sound System and impressive views.
Tip: Rooms on Lexington Avenue are brighter, but also noisier due to traffic. Even on the 11th floor, I could hear sirens and honking horns into the wee hours of the morning.
All rooms include:
Large, dark wood desk
27-inch LG flat-screen; DVDs available to borrow for free
Tivoli Audio clock radio and iPod docking station
Earlsly & Windsor bath products and bathrobes
Excellent beds have pillow-top mattresses, down pillows, down comforters and duvets
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 Starwood's upscale W chain, the gym, while not huge, features all the top-of-the-line equipment you could want, including treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes, all with video screens and cable channels. There's also free weights, weight machines, medicine balls, and yoga mats available. On site, there's a two-computer business center and seven meeting rooms.
Restaurant and in-room dining onsite; the neighborhood is rich in restaurants.
The on-site restaurant, Beer & Buns, and its kitchen provides 24-hour room service. The restaurant is open for all three meals, and naturally, serves burgers and sliders alongside beer. Their house specialty burger, the B&B Indulgence, has Kobe beef, foie gras, truffles, and Beluga caviar for $250. Lexington's Bar is independently operated, featuring red leather stools along the bar, large tufted sofas, and chairs upholstered in blue, red, and yellow fabric. In addition to appetizers, they serve cocktails, wine, and beer.
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.
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 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a 30-minute metered cab ride to Midtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark 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. You can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $8 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs.
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