Just over a year ago my wife and I both applied for the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve credit card which was offering two weekend night certificates after spending $2500 in four months. We really took advantage by using three of the four nights at the beautiful Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand (review here).
Another perk at the time of signup was the ability to earn another free weekend night certificate after spending a total of $10,000 on the card. Since we had spent $2500 on the card for two free nights, we both went ahead and used the card exclusively until we both hit $10,000 for two more free nights.
Unfortunately Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card was automatically converted to an American Express Hilton Honors Ascend card on January 30th, 2018. The American Express Hilton Honors Ascend card is currently offering a 100,000 point welcome offer/bonus and also gives you a free weekend night certificate but the spending threshold has increased to $15,000 in a calendar year.
Our two free weekend night certificates were set to expire in February 2019. This past September I tried to find award availability at a Hilton ski resort (Waldorf Astoria Park City, etc) but came up empty.
My next thought was a weekend before Christmas in New York City. We’ve actually been going to New York each December since I got into travel hacking – mostly using the IHG card’s free uncapped anniversary night at the Intercontinental.
Since we missed NYC in 2017 (it loses it’s magic when you go every single year), I ended up making a weekend booking in New York City at Hilton’s The London NYC.
So how did I end up choosing The London NYC? I’m guilty of always trying to get the best value.
So in September, I searched Hilton.com for award availability in NYC for December 7th & 8th. Then sorted the list by price (highest first) and The London NYC was at the top of the list (~$800/night at the time). The rooms looked huge for the ‘standard award’, it had a great location, so I booked it.
This past weekend we set out to New York. While some people like to take the train to NY from Washington DC, I actually prefer to drive. I find it much less expensive, quicker, and easier.
I ended up snagging two nights of parking a block from our hotel in midtown Manhattan for only $89 (includes $20 charge for oversized SUV) using ParkWhiz. New customers can save $5 off your first booking using my referral link.
By comparison, The London NYC was charging $65/night + tax for valet parking.
The London NYC is located on 54th street between 6th & 7th Avenues – right in the heart of midtown and the theater district. Just a few blocks from central park.
One thing I hate about NY is all of the overhead protection for ongoing construction. Here’s what the front of the hotel looked like during our stay.
We arrived a little later than I had hoped, around 3:30pm (the Lincoln Tunnel always seems to have traffic going into the city).
The lobby is fairly compact with a long check-in desk with the elevators located behind it. After a brief 1-2 minute wait, one of the three check-in agents freed up from helping other guests and checked us in very quickly and had no issue linking our two single night reservations (since we both used a free weekend night certificate). After a couple of minutes we were off to our suite on the 19th floor.
As I mentioned above, The London NYC is an all-suite hotel. So even the standard rooms that are eligible for our ‘free weekend night certificate’ are suites.
According to the evacuation plan, our room was one of the smallest but was much larger than other standard NYC hotel rooms. Our ‘London Suite‘ was 500 square feet.
Immediately after entering our room was a small entry vestibule that housed the mini bar and safe along with a couple of wine glasses and a corkscrew.
The first room of the suite was the ‘living’ room and included a large sofa, coffee table, desk, TV, and sitting chair.
The bedroom was separated by a set of glass french doors. There was also a second smaller wall mounted TV in the bedroom. Both sets of sheers and shades in the bedroom and living room were motorized and closed by flipping a switch.
The nightstands included a phone along with a old iclock radio. Luckily it had a USB port as I only had a charging cable for my phone and not the plug in outlet. A small ironing board and iron were hidden in the blue trunk at the foot of the bed. The carpet in the bedroom was definitely showing it’s age.
Next to the bedroom was the closet/changing area that led to the bathroom. The area was plenty large enough for the one large suitcase we shared.
The bathroom was narrow but also large for NYC standards. It included two robes that we didn’t use.
The shower was nice and large also. One side featured a standard shower head and the other side included a hand held wand and a rain shower head with a mirror between them.
The single sink area was adjacent the showers and featured Bigelow products.
Finally the toilet was located at the end of the bathroom tucked behind the toilets. This is also where they hide the q-tips which I found out the last morning of our stay. They are in the box on the shelf above the toilet – I’m not sure why they aren’t at the sink.
While I didn’t use the fitness center, I did stop on the fourth floor to check it out before we left for the weekend. It’s one of the largest I’ve seen in New York City and included not only machines and free weights but pilates machines, punching bags, etc.
At check-in the diamond member benefits were explained to us along with the below card given to us.
I’m not really sure we got a complimentary upgrade to the next tier room and we didn’t request a late checkout since we were going to leave by noon anyway.
I believe wifi is complimentary for everyone since the wifi was open and did not require user name or password.
Two complimentary bottles of water were also included. Simply grab the Voss water bottles out of the minibar in your room and a credit shows up on your folio.
The main reason I’ve been switching most of my stays from Hyatt to Hilton has been for the free breakfast benefit. I doubt I’ll ever be top tier Hyatt status again which includes free breakfast with your stay.
Even though I’m top tier status with Hilton (Diamond member through a status match), even Gold members get free breakfast at Hilton. It’s super easy to get Hilton Gold status – you just have to have the American Express Hilton Honors Ascend card that I mentioned above.
Breakfast was served in the only lounge that converts to a restaurant for breakfast adjacent to the main lobby.
We got to breakfast before 9:00am both Saturday and Sunday of our stay and had no wait. When we were finished with breakfast around 10:30am Saturday there was a long line (10-15 parties) waiting to get in.
I sometimes feel a little weird taking photographs of the buffet at hotels, this was one of those occasions. But here is the breakfast menu.
We were given a $30 credit per person for breakfast which covers the Hilton Honors continental breakfast along with tax and tip. I was about to just order off the menu until I saw coffee was $8 but included along with juice in the continental or full american breakfast. New York is expensive but $8 for plain old coffee seemed a little ridiculous.
The continental breakfast included everything else which was located on the bar top – NY bagels, toast, fruit, berries, oatmeal, lots of pastries, and yogurt/granola.
We ended up going with the full american breakfast. It was $9 more than our credit allowed, but included scrambled eggs, potato has, apple sausage, bacon, along with the charcuterie, cheese shop, and salmon.
While not expansive, the extra hot items were of very high quality.
Looking back on our folios it looked like they only charged us for the continental breakfast the first day but the full breakfast the second day. It also looks like the credit also covered the tip if you didn’t use the full amount on food and tax (I left a $10 tip the first day).
Overall I really enjoyed our stay at The London NYC. The standard room suite was large by NYC hotel room standards and in a great location. I love getting a good high quality breakfast in expensive NYC included at Hilton just by holding the American Express Hilton Honors Ascend credit card.
On the negative side, I would be disappointed if I had paid $800/night cash or used 95,000 Hilton points for this stay as the room was in need of a renovation – it felt tired and was showing it’s age. But I think it was a great use of a free weekend night certificate.
I understand the hotel is actually in the middle of a full renovation and will rebrand officially as a Conrad. About half of the rooms are under renovation and should be ready for guests in mid-2019.
Have you stayed at The London NYC? What’s your favorite property to stay at in NYC?