Review: The W New York – Union Square, New York, USA


The “W” Union Square would be our modernized historic hotel for this particular trip to New York City. It’s well situated on the beautiful Union Square Park in the middle of where you want to be in Manhattan. Conveniently accessible to most attractions, we enjoyed a functional stay in a neighbourhood that was pleasant to be in, in a hotel that was a little average in experience.

This post is one chapter on our trip to New York City, New York, United States of America. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status and credited to Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The W New York – Union Square, New York USA

Booking the W Union Square:

I had picked the W Union Square as the concept of the hotel had always appealed to me. The hotel is in an older building and is in the convenient Union Square neighbourhood. The Union Square neighbourhood was a nice place to spend a few days in Manhattan. It’s central to almost everything. It has more personality to it than the boring Grand Central neighbourhood and the Westin Grand Central New York where we had stayed on our last visit. The Union Square neighbourhood also had substantially less tourists than Times Square, making for a better overall visit experience.

I wasn’t able to get what I would describe as a great rate for this property. I opted to spend on a higher rate in favour of convenience for a short stay, over a great price for a more distant or inconvenient. Our rate was $376 USD, in addition to an 8.875% state tax, a 5.875% hotel tax, a $2 flat rate occupancy tax and a flat rate $1.50 NYC Javitz fee; all of which pushed the nightly rate to $435.19 USD. This is hardly beer money, but we enjoyed the location and the location of the property.

The W Union Square Hotel is currently a Marriott Bonvoy Category 7, meaning that rooms are approximately between 50,000 – 70,000 a night under variable pricing, with 60,000 points a night as standard. If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.005 a point, you’d have to spend more than $300 USD to come out ahead for a 60,000 point a night redemption. While that’s a fair amount of points to part with, dependent on your priorities it may represent the most value to redeem points. During our stay, it was a Starwood Preferred Guest Category Six with rooms available between 20,000 to 25,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points. In our case, we preferred earning points on our hotel spend. As a result, we ended up paying a cash rate over redeeming points.

Lastly, I also attempted to apply Suite Night Awards to our short room reservation. Unfortunately, they failed to clear, despite our stay being only three nights over a winter weekend.

Arriving to the W Union Square:

201 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003, United States

After arriving on Delta Airlines First Class Minneapolis St Paul – La Guardia New York, we took a Carmel Car from the La Guardia Airport to the W Union Square. It took about twelve minutes for the car to arrive after we had called with a convenient text confirmation. Our route from the airport to the hotel was straight down the FDR freeway then off at 13th ave.

The hotel has a presiding location over the Union Square park. It is described as a landmark 1911 Beaux-Arts Guardian Life building. It’s also really conveniently located to the MTA Subway MTA Union Square Station being only a few blocks away.

The W Union Square
The W Union Square Roof
Arrival Signs

We checked ourselves in at the front counter. The front reception is located in a high ceiling lobby and situated in a space located underneath an elegant stair case. The front desk was also conveniently located across from the hotel elevators. I got the impression from the check in that this particular property was quite a high volume operation. Although, with the W Union Square offering 244 rooms and 26 suites across 21 floors, it’s not quite as large as some other New York City hotel properties.

Front Desk Reception

The lobby has a flex space also known as “The Living Room” that doubles as a lounge, or a place to consume drinks from the Irvington restaurant that is attached to the hotel.

The W Living Room

The Room: A Spectacular Room

After checking ourselves in, we led ourselves up to our room on the fourteenth floor. While there was a contemporary look to the hotel hallways, it was quite a dark looking hotel hallway. The dark doors and carpet coverings also added to a somewhat sombre look to the property. The Sherlock Holmes-esque mirrors added a strange vibe to the property, and the mirrors made the halls larger than expected.

Some Dark Styled Hallways

Our assigned “Spectacular Room” Room #1415 was situated on the corner of the floor. The first impression was that it was spacious by New York City standards and had a very nice high 11 ft ceiling which gave it an airy feel to it. Unfortunately, despite being a corner room, the design of the building did not take advantage of the two sides to add additional light into the room. Considering the building age from 1911, it was a pretty large room by historic standards.

Immediately on entering the Spectacular Room, there was short hallway and we turned right into the bedroom. The bedroom itself had dark tones as a result of the deep blue wall covering. The dark wall colourings led to a contemporary vibe to the place.

A Spectacular King Bed
A “W” Themed Spectacular Room

The room was accented with an occasional chair in the corner. It conveniently turned into a purse storage location for MrsWT73.

Storage Space on the Occasional Chair
Mirrors Made Efficient Use of the Place

The bed was nice and comfortable. The room, being on a high floor, was about as quiet as you could hope for in the middle of New York City.

The room contained a flat screen television. It was supported on a console that doubled as a desk and a suitcase holder. Being a W Hotel, the room was nicely equipped, with proper charging plug ins and many places for dropping multi media devices.

An Entertainment Center that was also a desk and a luggage rack
Desk Features next to the Television
Power Charging Banks
A Spectacular Corner Suite

Consistent with W Hotels, small organic snacks were also available in room, on a chargeable basis.

Boutique Snacks Available on a Whim

The bathroom was a little on the small side for a historic buidling. It offered a stand up shower and a single vanity sink. The W Hotel offered the usual amenities with upscale Bliss toiletries.

The Bathroom: A Single Vanity with Stand Up Shower
Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash

There were no fantastic park views from the room today, we had an easterly view up towards Brooklyn. Although we were on a high floor, it was better than an alley view or a brick wall.

A Room with a Winter View

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Breakfast Benefit:

As part of the platinum benefits, we opted for the SPG Platinum breakfast benefit. This is a bit of an odd set up as there is only an option to take the breakfast served in your room only. This is a bit strange as the attached Irvington restaurant is open for breakfast and has hotel room charging privileges. It’s not a big deal eating in your room, but the rooms are pretty small to begin with and the trays weren’t always cleared promptly. Our breakfast tray was still sitting on the floor outside our room at 2 AM the next day one evening when we came back from a late night out.

I had to sign for the breakfast bill after it was delivered which was $86.33 USD (per day) by the time the taxes, fees and service charges were all added in. The fee was wholly covered by the Starwood Preferred Guest (now Marriott Bonvoy) program. Breakfast consisted of 6 pastries, 2 juices, jams and a coffee bodum. It wasn’t enough to fill you for the day but certainly enough to get you more than started.

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Breakfast Vouchers
A Continental Breakfast for Two

There are several 24 hour convenience stores within a 2 block area of the hotel for those that were looking for additional amenties near the hotel.

Around the Hotel:

The Irvington Restaurant

The W Union Square hotel restaurant is the cool and hip Irvington Restaurant. It’s accessible from the lobby and had a contemporary feel to it. The restaurant featured dining and a bar area.

The Bar at the Irvington Restaurant
A Look into the Open Kitchen at the Irvington
“Of Course I don’t think you’re inadequate… I Love You”

It had reasonable ambience, a nice décor but pretty average and forgettable service. I had pan seared sea bass with carrots and chillies. It was unfortunately pretty unexciting.

Pan Seared Sea Bass, Carrots and Chilli

In summary, unfortunately it was a pretty bland meal experience followed up by even blander service. On the plus side, the restaurant did offer room charging privileges. When the highlight of your dinner is that you’re able to charge it to a room, and earn 6X Starwood Preferred Guest Points on the meal via a stay charge (4X $1 as a SPG Platinum 75 + 2X on the SPG Amex Card), you know that the meal experience wasn’t all that outstanding.

Bar Jamón: (situated closeby)

Fortunately, we had a much better experience around the corner. Without being done for the evening, we did happen to walk two blocks up to a Spanish wine bar Bar Jamón. Bar Jamón is run by the Casa Momo people almost immediately next door. Casa Momo has been Michelin starred since 2009 and features Spanish Tapas. We had a few snacks there in a standing room only area at Bar Jamón that maybe could hold 25 people.

The discreet Bar Jamón around the corner from the W Union Square
A Great Wine Bar at Bar Jamón

We had some terrific Rioja and Manchego cheese that was miles ahead of the food up the street. They offered fresh Iberico ham sliced off the leg on our visit. I left the big camera at home but I’d highly recommend this place to visit if you can get in. The bar has been quoted in Wine Spectator as one of the best restaurants to get Spanish wines and the restaurant is Michelin starred, so they must be doing okay.

Union Square Park:

The hotel is situated across from Union Square Park. It’s a nice location for a hotel to be in. The location offers some greenery and some space from the usual Manhattan Noise. We often walked through the park during our winter stay, with great views of the hotel throughout most of the park.

Some Impressive Views of the W Union Square from the Park
Leafy Trees make for a nice walk

The Bottom Line: Our Stay at the W Union Square

Overall, the W Union Square was a reasonable place to stay during our visit to New York. I loved the residential neighbourhood feel to the area and the proximity to everything. I didn’t like the lacklustre breakfast option and the some what forgettable stay experience. Our next time through New York, we may stay somewhere else. Although, if I was frank, I don’t know if other properties would realistically be much better.

If you stayed at the W Union Square, how did you find your stay ?

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