I remembered my stay in the W Hong Kong hotel and for me it was one of the highlights of my stay in Hong Kong. This time during my visit to New York, I was fortunate to sample 2 stays at both Andaz property in the city. Arriving early into New York City on a weekend, I was able to check into my room at the Andaz in Wall Street. Unlike most hotels with a check-in counter, the Andaz ‘host’ will come over and invite you to be seated in their comfortable lounges while they offer you a drink. Having settled you down, the host will then proceed to the other details of checking in. And that morning, the host attending to me was a very outgoing one, and was articulate. Definitely one of the best receptionists I have ever encountered while checking in. In the Andaz Wall Street, I was even upgraded to a Large King Room from their standard King Room. Having arrived early in the morning, there was some cookies and small pastries being served on a long table behind the the seating area.
As I sipped my cup of coffee, the host went on to explain the distinctive features of staying in an Andaz which includes complimentary internet, minibar (though excluding alcohol) and the special check-in features. Their key card is also special since it features the elemental names of the Periodic Table with a corresponding trait being written out at. I got the element Pu 94 for Pure and Am 95 for Ambitious. I was provided with a room on the higher floors just as I liked it from my Hyatt Gold Passport preferences and the room was spacious for New York City, with a dark and cool bathroom that has both a walk-in shower with a separate soaker tub. The washbasin and the toilet was located at the opposite end to the bath area, separated by the wood-tiled foyer. A special highlight in the large room was the rotating wardrobe, shelving unit and full length mirror allowing one to access their clothing conveniently. Inside the room itself, a long table with a flat-screen TV was positioned that also doubles as a dressing table and a work desk. The King bed is positioned beside the soaking tub which had a sleek glass ledge at the lower third of the wall. This is definitely not a room for families, but really suitable for young couples or individual travelers. Unlike the W which places emphasis on funky headboards design and hip music, the Andaz reflects calmness and minimalism in the room decor that borders on being spartan. There is a light wallpaper behind a simple headboard that is reminiscent of a Scandinavian design. At one corner of the wall, there is a matte metallic plaque with some wordings against a wooden border, and a simple Geneva iPod dock stands at one of the side tables.
With a room on the higher floors, I was able to get a nice view of the surrounding skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan which was alright since I wasn’t staying for the views. It was great enough not to get a room facing an office tower right opposite you. It is also worth noting that the Andaz Wall Street doesn’t have much dining choices other than Wall and Water, where breakfast is also served at. Its other facility is a gym which I did not try and it has a separate lobby just beside it for access to the Andaz branded residences. Close by the hotel, there is a pharmacy and supermarket which makes it easy to get any necessities one might need but since the complimentary mini bar provides water as well, there wasn’t a need to rely on bottled mineral waters. The hotel is also close to the Wall Street subway station and walking distance to sights around Wall Street, Staten Island Ferry and Battery Park. I would have to say the Andaz Wall Street became my favourite hotel I stayed in while visiting New York City, and it will definitely be a property I hope to return to.
I checked out of the Andaz Wall Street on a Monday afternoon to check in at its sister property along 5th Avenue, just opposite the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. Compared to the Andaz Wall Street which had a business atmosphere and a more staid decor, the 5th Avenue property is a little bit more whimsical. The lobby is much more modern though it seems more compact in space. I was directed to the square table and provided with a bottle of mineral water, having been acquainted with the Andaz way of welcoming its guests. This time, there wasn’t any mention of an upgrade since I think the hotel is nearly fully booked with a function going on in the hotel. The hotel has two wings and I was assigned a room on the other wing that required me to change elevators. It was a bit of a hassle really and I would strongly suggest to guests wishing to stay here to consider staying at the ‘main’ wing of the hotel instead. Switching elevators takes places in the second floor where one will pass by the event space and a small courtyard which stays true to the Andaz style.
Once I got to the 9th floor, I was greeted by a small lift lobby to find my room occupying just one of the 5 rooms on this floor. The room itself is smaller than that the Large King Room at the Wall Street and while the bathroom had double vanity sinks, it lacks a soaking tub though it make do with a foot bath and sitting area in the walk-in rain shower. The wardrobe and the shelving unit are encased in a glass and metal structure making the room appear more spacious though it creates a sense of mess when entering the room after one has unpacked. Similar to the Andaz Wall Street, there was complimentary internet and minibar here though I noticed some differences in the snack and beverage offerings in the minibar and I prefer the ones provided in the 5th Avenue property. A flat screen TV hangs by the wall and a wooden desk with a nice looking armchair positioned at the corner by the window. I have no complaints on the TV though the armchair is really uncomfortable to sit on and its rough edges really makes it only feasible to stay still while seated. A Geneva iPod dock was also present by the bedside. Overall the room decor is similar to that of the Andaz Wall Street but it felt much more spartan. And I didn’t really like the work chair. For views, I got to see more skyscrapers and one landmark being the MetLife Building on top of the Grand Central Station.
Bathroom amenities provided in the 5th Avenue is similar to the one at Wall Street being those by C.O. Bigelow, one of New York’s oldest apothecaries. In fact the one at 5th Avenue provided an additional bath amenity in the form of bath salts which was great to use for soaking one’s foot after a day of walking along 5th Avenue. The brighter tiles of the Andaz 5th Avenue’s bathroom also made it a more pleasant place to linger in. Both Andaz properties also offer some very comfortable bedroom slippers for use while in the hotel unlike the W in Seattle which does not even provide slippers. For first timers to New York, the 5th Avenue property has one of the best locations in New York as it is within walking distance to the shops in 5th Avenue, the theatres of Broadway, the lights of Times Square and the sights of Midtown from the Top of the Rock and Grand Central Station. There is also a subway station beside Bryant Park which had far more connections to access various parts of New York.
One shouldn’t miss the check out at the 5th Avenue, as they provide some nice check-out gifts, ranging from a lib balm to some lollipops. It was a nice touch of saying goodbye and sure makes me think about returning! Having said that, I would still pick the Andaz at Wall Street over the one at 5th Avenue for its larger rooms and more memorable service by its staff. The coffee provided in the morning also tastes better for the one in Wall Street!
My stay in the 2 Andaz properties in New York was amazing and made me like the Andaz better than SPG’s W-brand. I prefer the minimalist look of Andaz’s room and really enjoyed the service at both properties. In terms of amenities and rooms, the Andaz also wins by providing complimentary in-room internet, minibar drinks and snacks as well as great perks like the checkout amenity and some nibbles for the morning. The only drawback, though, is that the Andaz brand is really limited to a handful of hotels and mostly in America, with the only international one being in London. It’s time for Hyatt to bring the brand to more cities worldwide, I say!