After the marathon 15+ hr flight from Doha on Qatar Airways, I landed at JFK at around 3 pm. From there, I took the AirTrain to Jamaica followed by the Subway to 59th St Columbus Circle station, which deposited me into Manhattan barely 300 feet from the hotel.
Location & Classification
JW Marriott Essex House is located in the heart of Manhattan, just across the road from Southern end of Central Park. Whether you are in NYC for business, shopping or a weekend away, the property lends itself nicely to all of those causes and more.
The hotel is a Category 7 property meaning until 29th March 2022, a standard award night will cost you anywhere between 50,000 – 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. For stays beyond that date and until the end of 2022, expect to pay up to 100,000 points per night as this is one of the 218 properties which are being repriced upwards. You can read more about Marriott’s upcoming dynamic award pricing over here.
We don’t yet know how Marriott’s dynamic pricing will work in 2023 and beyond, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that prices are only likely to head higher.
In terms of Cash, expect to pay upwards of US$ 700 (A$ 950) for a night in a standard room which makes redeeming points a great deal. If you are planning a stay at this property over coming months and want to redeem points, it is imperative that you take action now and certainly prior to 30th March 2022 when dynamic pricing comes into play.
Arrival & Check In
I arrived at the hotel around 5 pm, the front desk was not overly busy so I was attended to within a few minutes.
My original booking was for a King Standard Room, which at check-in, I found out had been upgraded into a 1 bedroom suite. The funny thing is that I had actually applied 3 Suite Night Awards (SNA’s) to my booking which the hotel had denied, so the upgrade was a pleasant surprise.
The property has a good looking lobby with generous amounts of seating. The imposing black columns provide a contrast to the otherwise ornate setting. There’s a piano stationed on one corner, giving the place a touch of opulence.
The hotel’s sole hospitality venue Southgate is also located on the lobby level on the far end, directly opposite from the check-in desk.
The staff went over a few other details about the property including the Executive Lounge, which she informed was operating at reduced hours between 6:30am – 2 pm due to Covid 🤦♂️. With that out of the way, she handed me the room keys and off I went.
The property is serviced by 2 sets of elevators, one for floors 2-19 and the other for floors 20 and beyond. The sparkling, brass elevators are a nod to the building’s art deco background.
My 1 bedroom suite, 1016 was located on Level 10. I thought the carpeted corridor gelled nicely with the character of the building. We have all seen the hideous, grubby carpets that can sometimes be very off-putting. That was not the case here.
As I stepped into my suite, there was an art work straight up. Turning left, you had the bright and nicely furnished living area.
There was a good-sized L shaped couch and a detachable centre table. The table was showing some signs of wear.
A long glass-top table and a swivel chair were positioned at the back of the couch. There were power outlets and USB ports on the table if you wanted to get work done.
One issue I consistently faced at every Marriott property in US (one’s I stayed at) was the lack of universal power adapters in rooms. None of the outlets catered to my Australian chargers, not a huge deal but something that can be easily resolved and will make life easy for business travellers.
There was a walk-in closet with plenty of storage space, hangers for clothes, a luggage stool, robe and a pair of room slippers.
Then on the other end of the living room, and by the wall, you had a small buffet stand with a flat screen television.
There was nothing by the way of in-room mini bar. The drawers underneath were empty, even the bar fridge had been removed from the room as you can tell from the picture below.
For a high end property in such a premium location, I thought the complete dearth of in-room amenities was unacceptable. If you expected the hotel to be considerate enough to at least leave a few bottles of water in your room, you would be disappointed.
I found I had to call the reception and request for the water to be sent up, which was supplied in tiny bottles.
The bedroom in my opinion was the best part of the suite. It was roomy with plenty of natural light filtering in from the windows. There was a king size bed with a leather clad bed-head plus an ottoman at the foot of the bed.
Whether you wanted to lounge on the bed and catch up on Netflix or were simply after a good night’s sleep, the large selection of pillows catered for every occasion.
On the opposite side from the bed, you had a wall-mounted television plus a chest of drawers which was again, empty. There were 2 windows in the bedroom, however the views were those of surrounding buildings owing to the positioning of the suite.
The suite had 1 full bathroom with dual entries. You could access it from the bedroom as well as through a door located by the entry way.
The bathroom was dated. It featured a vanity with single sink and bath-tub which was on the smaller side.
Further down, you had the WC and the shower with older style shower heads.
The bath products & toiletries were supplied by Aromatherapy and BeeKind, brands commonly found at JW Marriott’s in most part of the world.
To sum up, I was glad I got upgraded from a standard room into the suite which undoubtedly offered loads more space. Beyond that though, the suite – specially the bathroom is crying out for a full demo job. On many occasions during my stay, I got the feeling like this was the shabbiest suite at this property.
That said, it would be unfair to judge the property from this suite alone. I know for a fact that the hotel has much nicer suites, many with views of the Central Park and Manhattan high-rises. I just wish I was in one of them, may be next time 😎
The property’s sole dining venue, Southgate Bar & Restaurant is located on the lobby level. I am not sure why, but this felt like the most modern part of the building.
Southgate is open daily for breakfast & dinner and offers excellent views of Central Park across the road. During my stay, I managed to drop-in on few occasions and had a few drinks.
While I would be happy to recommend anybody to come here for a drink or two, I can’t say the same about the food in this place. The menu is rather limited, I ordered a pasta dish on one night and didn’t like it.
Luckily, the location of the property means there is no shortage of dining options around. So the average nature of food does not really detract from the overall experience.
The hotel has an Executive Lounge on Level 2. As a Titanium elite, I had complimentary access to the lounge, however, anybody booked into higher category rooms with lounge privileges can get in.
At the time of my stay, the lounge was operating with reduced hours between 6:30 am – 2 pm, meaning there was no evening drinks or canape service.
The lounge is of decent size with adequate seating.
The buffet style breakfast is laid out in a separate room. I will let the pictures speak to the variety and presentation of the offerings.
There were all kinds of yogurt in a fridge, while tea and coffee stand was located in a different part of the lounge.
Looking at these pictures, you might feel like this is a decent enough spread, it probably was. For some reason though, I did not come way from breakfast with a good feeling. The food did not taste very good and the machine made coffee was undrinkable.
The lounge remains open until 2pm, but expect nothing more than hot & cold beverages if you happen to find yourself here after 11am.
The only other amenities worth mentioning are the hotel gym & spa. Located on Level 3, the gym is open 24 hours a day, 7 day a week and is equipped with free weights and cardio equipment both.
Next door from the gym you have the Primp Spa. It is open daily from 6am – 9pm and appointments are required for treatments.
JW Marriott Essex House has the potential to be an outstanding property. It boasts a bragworthy location in a 1929 built art deco building. However, the extreme penny pinching at-play by the hotel owners under the garb of Covid-19 means the property does not do justice to it’s Category 7 rating or the sky-high cash prices.
I won’t discourage anybody planning a stay here, but do lower your expectations or you will be disappointed. Personally speaking, although I will not totally rule out the property for future stays in New York City, there will be plenty of other’s I will consider before I take another look at it.
Have you stayed at JW Marriott Essex House? Leave a comment below.