Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Pennsylvania 6-5-0-0-0! The Pennsylvania Hotel, Manhattan. New York.
Pennsylvania Hotel New York (USA)
Member Name: GillMN
Pennsylvania Hotel New York (USA)
Advantages: Very central. Comfortable. Helpful staff.
Disadvantages: Some rooms are absolutely uninhabitable.
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.
Summary: I would definitely stay there again if I could be guaranteed a good room.
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