The Grand Hyatt is very much in the same vein as the Wellington in that it is a value hotel, in a decent location which caters to a large extent to the mass tourist market. Its lobby is constantly thronging with groups of travellers and there is pretty much a permanent flow of guests in and out of the hotel. Despite its immense size ( and frequency, the hotel meets the needs of its clientele with the facilities that it offers. This is not the place to come if you are looking for peace and quiet or indeed something a little different in terms of design or innovation, however if you are on a budget and want a basic, functional, affordable place to stay, you could do worse. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, by yourself or as a group, you'll find accommodation to suit your needs.
The Grand Hyatt has a decent situation at 42nd Street at the Grand Central Terminal between Lexington and Park Avenues. Times Square and Bryant Park are a short walk east with the theatres of Broadway just a little further on. Further to the north, about 10 minutes' walk, are the shopping areas on Madison and Fifth Avenues while just to the east is the Rockefeller Center and MoMA. To the south, again, roughly 10 minutes away on foot, is the Empire State Building. As well as Grand Central station there are several metro stations surrounding the hotel operating several lines. JFK is 18 miles away, La Guardia 9 miles and Newark 17.
If you can avoid leaving your luggage at the hotel on your final day then do so as there is a very cheeky $2 charge per item. We didn't see this advertised anywhere so were quite surprised when the grumpy porter asked us for over $10 just to store our bags. In order to avoid this ridiculous charge, try asking for a late check out if you have a later flight.
The soaring glass tower of the Grand Hyatt stands at one of the busiest points in the city and has a permanent hubbub of people around it-good preparation for the crowds in the lobby. You'll be met as soon as your taxi pulls up by doormen sporting a red jacket and smart cap who will take care of your luggage with a smile. Inside, the lobby is immense.
Large areas of seating are pierced by tall triangular pots and their plants while the multiple reception desks, baggage store and theatre and tours desks are arranged around two sides of the hall. On another side is the lift bank whose half a dozen elevators work overtime. In the centre is a water fountain and in the background plays, rather paradoxically, chill out music.There is also a coffee stand for those in a hurry in the morning or for those waiting in the lobby for their taxis. The concierge desk is just next door.
Although not a moment in the day goes by without there being numerous guests around, you shouldn't be waiting too long to be seen to as we found check in quick and efficient (you always have the option of using one of the express self-check-in machines just in front of the reception). At the back of the hall, through a corridor, you'll find several boutiques including a jewellers, a souvenir shop, an art outlet and an antique dealer. The hotel's gym, which looks out onto the street, is very well-equipped with individual screens on the cardio machines as well as plenty of towels and water. Personal trainers can be arranged on demand, as can wellness services.
The business centre, located on the conference floor, offers a full service with PCs, photocopiers and fax machines. Wifi is also available throughout the hotel, but at an extra charge. As you'd expect with a hotel the size of, and a frequency as frightening as, the Grand Hyatt, there are signs of wear and tear around the property, but that is not to say that it isn't clean and presentable. The members of staff we came across were extremely pleasant and good-natured, which is no mean feat when you spend much if your day checking in rowdy tour groups.
The Grand Hyatt offers 10 categories of room in total although the difference in size between the smallest and largest rooms is only 100ft² or so. Most have good views of the city with the ones on the higher floors of course having the best vantage point. The standard room is perhaps slightly bigger than the New York average and is modestly appointed with function above all in mind. The bed, which is extremely comfortable, is dressed in crisp linen and several cushions and pillows, and flanked by bedside tables with an iPod docking station and telephone. Opposite is a drawer unit upon which a television sits while the rest of the furniture, which has seen better days, consists of an armchair and table and a working desk with ergonomic chair. You'll find a safe and iron and ironing board in the closet, while in the marble bathroom, which has a bathtub, there is a hairdryer and Portico toiletries. The guest room categories which follow the standard room all share the same amenities and the same décor and layout but are a shade bigger. The King Deluxe has the advantage of a sofa bed but all other guest rooms have the option of adding extra beds anyhow. It isn't until you arrive at the suites that a real difference is noticed. These all have separate seating areas with modern furniture and a coffee table, as well as a dining table and chairs for up to six people. The décor remains sober but tasteful and has everything one could need for a comfortable stay.
The hotel has two dining areas: the Manhattan Sky Lounge, which serves breakfast, and the Commodore Grill, named after the shipping magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, which serves all three meals. During our visit the Sky Lounge was not in operation, but it is a bright and airy space looking out onto the street from the first floor. The Commodore Grill is a vast, slightly old-fashioned eating area, upholstered predominantly in red which serves food throughout the day. The breakfast is a classic mix of continental and hot fare with cocktails available too. Service was quite slow during our visit although the staff was pleasant and as attentive as they could be with hundreds of people demanding their attention. The brunch menu has a few extra dishes such as the blue cheese burger and potato-horseradish crusted salmon, while the evening brings more variety still. To start, the choice is between dishes such as sautéed gulf shrimp and foie gras terrine which can be followed by, for example, New York strip au poivres or classic bouillabaisse. Each day has its own special and the wine list is fairly extensive, with a preference for home produced bottles.
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