I can't complain, and I'm not. I booked a room at the Essex house for $339 per night during the week of July 11 (good deal for that time frame) and was "bumped" to the "St. Regis Club." The St. Regis Club is basically the upper floors of the Essex House. It tries to be a separate hotel in the same way as the Tower at the Waldorf tries to be different from the Waldorf Astoria. Both are grand old hotels, but the emphasis on both is on "old."
Location: Central Park South -- really can't beat it. It's close by the Theatre District, Lincoln Center, the mid-town financial district and the near-upper East and West Sides. An oasis, especially if your room has a park view.
Room: Good size for the City. Large entry foyer made the room seem like a junior suite. Excellent Starwood "Heavenly bed." Decor and bathroom were, overall, a bit on the dated side, but quite nice. Plush bathrobes and outstanding bathroom amenities. Somewhat obstructed, but refreshing, view of Central Park.
Service: Check-in and check-out were very smooth. Lots of security by the elevator who were very good at remembering that you belonged, even if you came by sweaty and in gym clothes after they had seen you in your suit. Service at the bar was a bit spotty -- but remember you are dealing with a unionized New York work force.
Two gripes -- (1) The gym. They would like to have you believe that they have a full "spa" with complete work-out room (for which they charge you $10 per visit). This is one of the lamer exercise facilities I have come across in the last few years at a 4-star hotel, and certainly the worst one that charges you extra for the privilege of using it. It has some cardio, a few weight machines, some decent dumbells (but only one measily bench). Most newer 3-star business hotels have equipment that blows the Essex House away and they do not charge. (2) Internet access -- Really, charging for the internet at a fancy hotel is bush league these days. It's not just every budget hotel that offers free wifi hi-speed access, but in my experience, every hip up-scale hotel does so as well.
The main reason that I do not give this hotel 5 "gold dots" is that it pretends to be a St. Regis. Senator, I have stayed at the St. Regis, and you, sir, are no St. Regis. The St. Regis is a 5-star hotel in every nit-picking, over-the-top luxurious way. This hotel, while a solid 4-star, is not even close. With all due respect to Starwood (my favorite hotel chain), they are diluting their highest-end brand by labelling this as a "St. Regis."
One final note -- The Essex House is the perennial favorite of Saturday Night Live guests and alumni, so don't be surprised to encounter SNL glitterati on the elevators or in the lounge.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Deluxe midtown hotel that evokes the glamour and sizzle of the 1930s. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- The St. Regis Club At The Essex House, New York Hotel New York City
- The St Regis Hotel