I have now been to New York twice and both times stayed in the Pennsylvannia Hotel.
The first time myself and my husband went was for a short break for valentines weekend. We booked the trip through a travel agent as a package holiday and therefore didn't choose this hotel ourselves. I subsequently read reviews of the hotel and was a bit worried as they weren't great and overall opinion was that it was a basic budget hotel so don't expect too much. When we got there I was pleasantly surprised. The lobby to me is a typical New York hotel, although was a bit shabby. The hotel was really busy when we arrived and it took a good 30-40 minutes waiting in the queue to check in. The staff weren't particularly pleasant but were efficient enough. When we eventually got to our room we were hugely dissappointed to find the bed hadn't been made and had hairs on the sheets!!! My husband went straight to reception to make a complaint which they dealt with very well and we were immediately moved to another room. The 2nd room was certainly clean but was very cold as the heating wasn't working. As it was getting late and I really didn't want to move rooms AGAIN, we just left it that night and spoke to reception next morning. The heating was fixed by the time we got back to our hotel that evening. Generally the hotel was a bit downtrodden looking. However that didn't stop us booking the hotel again for a Xmas break in New York (2008). Well what can I say. What a difference. There appeared to be new carpets throughout and the hotel just looked so much nicer. The room we had was lovely with really thick carpets and a HUGE double bed. The bathroom was small but clean. The hotel has lots of character and has a real New York buzz about it. There's also restaurant and 24 hour coffee shop within the main lobby area. The location is fantastic just opposite Madison Square Gardens on 7th avenue and 33rd Street. Macy's Department Store and The Empire State Building are both only 1 block away and it's within easy walking distance of Times Square. Overall I would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a reasonably priced hotel in the centre of Manhattan.
I have been to New York City twice (I love it) the first time I went was with friends and I did not have a lot to do with the arrangements and bookings, we stayed in a hotel quite far away from mid town.
The second time I visited I went with my mum, who had never been and I'd decided we needed somewhere central, although Manhattan isn't massive you want to be near all the touristy bits and pieces.
So after looking around I decided being in the thick of it probably wasn't an option as it was all quite expensive. Then I found the Pennsylvania, opposite Madison Square Garden's and Penn Station, 2 blocks from Macy's, 2 blocks west of the Empire State Building, I thought it was great and had many more attractions around the corner.
It's actual location is west 32nd and 7th. I love the way they say it, sounds all New York like.
So with it all booked, I bumped in to my cousin, my cousin who had just come back from New York and stayed in the Pennsylvania Hotel, and he and his wife hated it. Said all the paint work was coming away, the bathrooms were out of date, they actually changed rooms three times. I thought oh great!
I am not a fussy traveller, I travel to see places so am not bothered too much by accommodation as it is just somewhere to rest my head and grab a shower. I prepared my mum and we expected the worse. (and it was too expensive to change hotels).
We booked the hotel with a flight and all in all paid £450 each for a return flight with Virgin to JFK and 5 nights' accommodation in the Pennsylvania, I think it was very reasonable, you may have your own thoughts.
~The actual hotel~
It has 1700 rooms and is the fourth largest hotel in New York City. The hotel was purpose built in 1919. A grand 90 years old. The front of the hotel is flat and gives the impression that it is a square building, it isn't, it is forked and looks like a large W but with an extra fork, this is great as it keeps the rooms in the 'forks' quiet. New York is a loud city and the roads are busy all the time.
The hotel houses a large entrance with concierge, the check in/receptionist desk is quite large with many desks, it was quite busy but we got checked in within 10 minutes. What was really weird is the girl behind the desk asked where we were from and we said England, and for some reason my mum said oh near Watford and it turns out the American girl had been working at our local hospital, it was so weird!
The hotel has a coffee shop (they sell the best hot chocolate in the world, as well as peanut butter cookies), there is a luggage room available, a fitness centre, 2 restaurants, a newsstand, and a travel desk for shuttle transfers, tickets, attractions and advice.
My mum and I stayed in a twin room, they are all relatively samey, the rooms include:
Private bathroom, with bath and shower
Colour television with 'cable' and pay preview films
Iron and ironing board
2 king size beds
The hotel was clean and the room was not that bad, we were told on check in that half of the hotel was under renovation, this was not the half we were in. The room was ok, the paint work did look a bit old, and near the door it was starting to peel, but nothing too bad, it's not as if there was damp in the room or a draft from the window. The beds were really comfy and I slept like a baby. The bathroom was clean although the tiles were a bit mis-coloured where they had aged. Nothing horrible at all, and for the price, I would say it was very reasonable. The room wasn't massive, I mean the two beds took up a lot of room but it was fine, and with a large window to let the light in.
I have not booked direct with hotel before but would definitely consider it in the future, also look out for deals, they are always running offers. The website is very easy to navigate and has a lot of information.
Since I have been to the Pennsylvania I understand it has now finished being renovated and is a lot nicer inside.
I would recommend it and next time I go to New York I will be staying here.
This hotel is situated in a fantastic location and is very cheap, however the standards inside reflect this, and the location is by far the best thing about this hotel
On entry to the hotel there is a large foyer area which is always extremely busy, this hotel boasts about being one of the largest hotels in New York City comprising of around 1700 rooms and so check in can be a long wait and then another long wait if you need to return to reception to ask any questions or complain. The staff are very abrupt, no friendly smile or courteous attitude and the bellboys are always in competition to try and reach your luggage first. They are also very rude and will blatently stand there with there hand out until you provide them with a tip they like!
Rooms - Where to begin, our first room was supposed to be a triple room which we had booked in advance several months earlier, on arriving at our room we were suprised to be confronted with just one double bed. Not ideal for three travellers. Our next room after waiting half an hour to complain had 1 double bed and one sofa bed so still meant that two of us would need to share and had an enormous hole in the roof. Again a return to reception took us to another room, again not enough beds and the toilet was broke. Fourth Time lucky and we had a room again with only 2 beds, fed up of wasting our 3 day break in this holliday we accepted it wasnt going to get any better and settled with room number 4. It was very basic and very dated. There was no ceiling light just two table lamps which let out little light. There was a television that had seen better days and windows were that disgusting I didnt dare go near.
The linen although clean looked very old and had several holes in the material. There were also numerous cigarette burns in the sofa bed.
The bathroom was no better and was stained from many many years use and little cleaning. The shower over the bath was very low down and fixed so you had to crouch into an awkward position to be able to use it.
Food - There are a couple of restaurants off from the main foyer however these are highly priced for what they are and you would be better off visiting the Irish Bar just across the road for some fantastic value food and drinks. I ordered sausage and chips one evening and was presented with 6 sausages, what looked like a whole tin of beans and a separate plate of fries. All this for $5.99. Ideal if you are just wanting a quick evening meal before setting out into the city and you would rather save your money for shopping than expensive restaurants. They also offer a wide range of traditional english pub food, and full irish breakfasts which were lovely.
Location - The location is the best thing about this hotel, it is located directly across the road from Madison Square Gardens and just round the corner from Macys. Times Square is a short walking distance away and there are subway facilities just across the road and also round the corner. There are several large stores located on the same street such as Footlocker and there are a couple of malls within short walking distance also.
In total we paid about £70 per night here which between 3 of us worked out very cheap, however its true that you get what you pay for and its worth paying a bit more to stay at many of the other well maintained hotels available.
Overall if you are only using this place as somewhere to sleep at a low price then is ideal, however if you are wanting luxury, comfort and good service then stay away!!
This is my own review and has featured on another review website.
My daughter got married on Dec 10th in New York.
After days of browsing the internet I settled on the Pennsylvania Hotel for myself and my husband for our ten day stay. We booked with Lastminute.com and saved about half the normal room rates.
I then found some horrendous reviews of the Pennsylvania and ended up dreading our stay there. I read a few good ones too, so for the sake of my sanity hung on to those.
We flew into JFK airport. (Another review on it's own I think!) and got a shuttle bus to our hotel.
First impressions were pretty impressive! It's an old massive building taking a whole block to itself. It fronts 7th Avenue and 35th and 36th Street run along it's two sides. It's the fourth biggest hotel in New York.
It has about 21 floors I think. The top floor is given over to rather beautiful function rooms and conference suites. (I went up to have a nosy!)
The Lobby is vast. It's a bit like a posh railway station. Reception is situated along the far right hand wall and the lifts are opposite behind banks of seating. There are doors along corridors to the far left and right as well. Wheelchair access is fine at all doors.
The lobby also houses souvenir shops, a 24 hour cafe, a theatre/events booking office, a bookshop (sort of) the bell captain, an internet facility with six computers, security boxes which are free, access to 'Filene's Basement(a rather strange discount place) and Lindy's Restaurant. (Which you need to avoid at all costs!)
You could probably live in the lobby undetected for a few years it is that big.
I have developed a theory about New York Hotels. I think they give you the crappiest, nastiest room available first and see if you are daft enough to take it. If you ask for a better room, anything they give you will look like paradise in comparison. I have heard of four occasions where this had happened.
We checked in easily and swiftly. The receptionist lacked a basic charm. She treated me as though I was not really there. I was suprised she could focus on me long enough to pass the keys across. She also cut me off mid sentence which always annoys me. Anyway, keys clutched in hand we headed for the impressive bank of lifts and ascended to the 16th floor.
We walked along what felt like miles of dull green corridor and found our room. This is a totally accurate description of it.
1. The paint was coming off the walls in big swathes.
2. You couldn't swing a gerbil in it, never mind a cat!
3. The double bed was not a double, it was a large single at best.
4. There were no bedside lamps or tables.
5. There was one cupboard type thing for clothes. The top was cracked.
6. The carpet was stained badly.
7. The bottoms of the door frame in the bathroom was rotten and black.
8. The bathroom was farcically small and dingy.
9. The grimy window looked out onto a brick wall.
It was obviously one of the rooms which had not been reached in the extensive renovation programme.
I sat on the bed (which was clean!) and watched dully as Russ started to unpack. After a desperate few minutes I rallied and said to Russ "I don't know why you're unpacking, we are not staying in this room." He was pessimistic about our hopes of being given an upgrade.
I went downstairs and went over to the desk. There was an older man called Joe on duty by now. I took a few deep breaths as I approached.
"I wonder if you can help me? We are here for ten days for my daughter's wedding and I cannot live in the room we have been given for ten days. It is absolutely horrible."
He looked at me but said nothing.
"I really can't stay in that room. I would go mad!"
I said all this quietly, no point in shouting yet!
He still said nothing, I waited. I waited some more whilst he fiddled on his computer.
With a completely dead pan face he slid two keys across the counter to me. "Change rooms quickly and bring the keys back to me."
I didn't need telling twice! I ran back to the lifts and went off to have a look at our new room. It was everything the other one was not! Big room, big bed, light and airy, a good view over 7th Avenue and Maceys! Storage space, a decentish bathroom! Wey-hey!!
I went upstairs to Russ (who, because he had no faith in my ability to negotiate, had carried on unpacking.) and gave him the good news.
We swapped rooms. I went back to Joe and told him that if I could reach across the counter I would give him a huge kiss. I thanked him again and again. His impassive face cracked a smile and a wink. (Joe, if you ever read this, God Bless you for helping us! You have my undying gratitude.)
After that our stay was very comfortable. The heating and air conditioning in the room worked well and was not too noisy.
Generally the rooms were quiet but at times there was no escaping the noise from the street.
This hotel couldn't be better located. It is in central Manhattan. About a five minute walk from Times Square, the Empire State building, a million shops and enough coffee houses and restaurants to keep you eating at a different one every day for ever.
It is absolutely opposite Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Gardens (Which, curiously enough, is not square and has no garden! Times square isn't square either!)
It is a ten minute amble to the amazing Grand Central Station. (Which manages to be grand, central and a station!)
The beginnings of the vast Central Park are about a twenty minute walk away.
The hotel is also very handy for the subway if you don't feel like walking or getting a yellow cab.
On our first night because we were tired and didn't feel like exerting ourselves, we went to Lindys, which is the restaurant/diner adjoining the hotel. It boasts the most famous cheesecake in New York.
Don't go there! It is appalling. Our meal was served over a twenty minute period. My husband got his veg ten minutes before his fish. The fish was raw in the middle. We sent it back and all they had done was chuck the uneaten bits back into the fryer for a few minutes. My cheeseburger was inedible and my chips were burnt. My son in law's steak was completely forgotten. etc etc. The waitress was embarrassed by the catalogue of disasters. The prices in there are ludicrous compared to other places. I can only assume they survive because so many people arrive at the hotel and eat at the first place they see, as we did.
The coffee bar in the hotel is a good place to get a variety of pastries and hot and cold drinks. The staff are friendly and there are a few tables outside the coffee bar to sit and drink at. It is a bit dearer than the local delicatessens which abound nearby but very convenient if you don't want to go out into the bad December weather.
There is a vast amount of places to eat locally.
The vast majority of the staff were as helpful and as amiable as anybody could wish for. Our room maids were treasures and the housekeeper for our floor was an absolute star! She was very helpful and full of local advice. It is not true that all New Yorkers are rude, it's just that the ones that are are very good at it. Most of them are proud of their city and dying to tell you about it. Our staff were no exception.
Compared to other hotels we looked at, the Pennsylvania was very competetive. Particularly if you don't book directly with the hotel.
Glenn Miller immortalised the phone number of the hotel. Pennsylvania 6-5-0-0-0! It is the longest held phone number in New York! (Now, you wouldn't have slept if I hadn't told you that would you?)
Overall it is a great hotel. If I ran it I would employ an 'Artist in residence' to do something about the miles of bare corridor walls. That is it's biggest downfall. I must say though that whilst we were there a large crack in the paintwork of the corridor was fixed immediately.
We enjoyed our stay.
During one of my first visits to New York, a long time before I had a computer and could research and book online, I decided to book flight and hotel with an independent travel agent. It was a tiny family run business and as I had been booking holidays with them for years, I trusted them and they knew what I needed and wanted.
Thats how I ended up at the Hotel Pennsylvania for three nights before continuing my travels along the US East Coast and up to Boston.
Tired from a long flight I arrive at the hotel. It looks rather impressive from the outside. Its a large building opposite Madison Square Gardens. I entered and arrived in a huge marble and mirrored lobby with a receptions area the size I had never before seen in my life and not since.
The Pennsylvania is one of New Yorks largest hotels with 18 floors and 1700 rooms plus three penthouse floors, built in the 1919 but has undergone a complete renovation over the past years. It takes up a whole block on 7th Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Street and within very easy reach of places of interest and shops. The Empire State Building and Macys are only a few minutes away on foot.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra made the hotel, or at least its phone number famous in the 1940s with their hit Pennsylvania 6-5000, a phone number that hasnt changed since 1919.
As I was pre-booked and pre-paid, checking in was easy. I showed the nice guy at reception my booking confirmation and after filling in the arrivals card I was given a key card to my room. From the number I noticed it was on the 10th floor but there were plenty of lifts to get me to my room.
Just wanting to flake out on the bed for a little while, freshen up and then go out for a stroll in the neighbourhood, I opened the door to what would be my home for the next three nights. To say that I was slightly taken aback would not quite cut it. The bed was dirty, the carpet was dirty, the bedside tables were under the bed, lamps were on the floor, everywhere cables and wires. I think I actually uttered a barrage of expletives to no-one in particular, grabbed my camera, took a series of photos (in case I needed to sue the pants off of them, or at least off the travel insurance or agent), shut the door again and went downstairs, luggage still dragging behind me. I was tired and not in a particularly good mood.
I didnt even bother with the check-in part of reception and went straight to general enquiries, slapped my key card on the counter and stated: Im not staying in THAT room.
One look on the computer and I was showered with apologies. They had given me a room that had not been renovated and should never have been given out to anyone. I could only whole-heartedly agree with that statement.
Within minutes my room was changed and I was checked into a room that was guaranteed refurbished. As an apology I also got an upgrade from a standard to a moderate room for free and had a choice of either two double beds or one king size. As I was on my own, I didnt see why I should occupy a room that could sleep 4 so I opted for the kings. I was moved from the 10th to the 14th floor and given a front view towards Madison Square Garden room.
I am sure if I had been more aggressive I would have been able to get more out of the situation but I was tired after a whole day travelling and only wanted to go to my room and relax.
Back up to the new room, open the door and much to my surprise, I find a rather nice and fairly large room in front of me.
The room was decorated in pastel colours and dominated by a large king size bed. But there was also a nice desk (with tourist information but no stationary or pen) and chair in one corner and a cabinet with TV in the other. And everywhere I looked there were lamps, on walls, on the ceiling, on tables and even without the main light on, each of the lamps produced enough light to illuminate the room beautifully.
All rooms are air-conditioned and have their own temperature control. This will come in handy in the hot and sweltering summer months when New York can be very hot and oppressive. The windows actually open, not fully but at least you can let some air in from the outside. Not that you actually want to, the noise and air quality in the city is not the best.
The bathroom was small but adequate with a bath/shower combination and some complimentary shampoo and soap. Shame it didnt have the Hotel name printed on them, otherwise I would have taken it. Plenty of fluffy white towels were available for you and housekeeping even phoned at one point to ask whether I needed more or not.
Decoration in the bathroom is nothing much to talk about, like in most hotels, it was fully tiled, off-white with a large mirror. The showerhead could be adjusted to your own personal favourite water strength from normal to a massage setting.
The room and bathroom were spotlessly clean and there is a daily maid service.
Being in New York you cant expect huge hotel rooms but it certainly was of a nice and comfortable size and you didnt bump into the furniture when you moved around.
All rooms have clock radio, colour TV with cable, pay-per-view movies, hair dryers, ironing boards/irons and direct dial phones with voicemail, but you will need to ask reception to unblock your phone for outgoing calls. This will require a credit card as security and will only get charged if you actually use the phone.
The room itself does not have a safe for all your valuables but you are welcome to leave anything of value that you dont want to keep in your room in the safes at reception.
Towards the back of the lobby there was a large and well-stocked newspaper shop plus souvenir area. The prices were no more expensive than anywhere else in the shops.
As a guest in the hotel you offered half price access to the fitness studio located next door but I am not the sporty type, and walking around the streets of Manhattan gave me all the exercise I needed, I didnt actually check it out, in particular not if I had to pay for the privileged.
The rooms can be a little on the expensive side if you decide to book last minute, but if you look around the Internet, you can actually find some very good prices. If I was to book now I could find prices from $99 plus 13.625% sales tax & $2.00 per room, per night occupancy tax for a single standard room. You pay for the room, breakfast is not included in the price. But depending on how close to the dates you book, or the time of year, prices can be very expensive.
Sometimes it works out cheaper to actually book the flight and hotel together but it is still advisable to see if you cant save by looking online for hotel prices without flight.
I was actually surprised how expensive the rooms on normal rates could be as the hotel itself only carries a low two star rating. I dont know why the rating is so low, I would give it at least three stars. But I dont give out ratings.
If you feel hungry, there are two restaurants on site but it is often cheaper to eat in a restaurant away from the hotel. I certainly found a few nice delis in the area and bought dinner to take back to the hotel on my way back.
After my first and initial bad impression I cant fault the hotel. It was comfortable, even if large and not very personal, clean and ever so handy for exploring the neighbourhood and sightseeing.
Within easy reach of Penn Station (Amtrak), Port Terminal (for Greyhound busses) and subway stations.