After deciding to stay in Manhattan following my United Polaris “test flight”, I had to actually pick a place. Manhattan hotels are notoriously expensive, whether paying cash or using points. And unfortunately, I’d pretty much used up all my points in Europe and Tokyo in 2015. Fortunately, though, early March isn’t the most popular time to visit New York City. That meant some relatively good cash prices with a little searching. One option that popped up: The Renwick Hotel New York City, a Hilton Curio Collection hotel. I’ve never stayed at a Curio, and in addition, the AAA rate of $179 seemed not so bad for Midtown. I also love boutique hotels in general, making this a no-brainer in my book.
The Renwick Hotel New York City
- 118 East 40th Street, New York, NY
- Website: http://curiocollection3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-york/the-renwick-hotel-new-york-city-curio-collection-by-hilton-NYCRWQQ/index.html?WT.mc_id=zLADA0WW1XX2PSH3DA4PPC5PPC6MULTIBR7_709529_10720064&_vsrefdom=mca&mchxkw=c:750532281,k:_renwick__hotel,m:b,p:1t1,d:c,ai:39645418016,ad:189580853007,s:g#
- Features: on-site restaurant, free WiFi, business center, fitness center, parking ($50 self/$60 valet)
Location: at the corner of 40th and Lexington, in Midtown East. The hotel is two blocks from Grand Central Terminal, and a 15-20 minute walk to both Times Square and Penn Station. In other words, it’s easily accessible from pretty much any subway or commuter line.
The Renwick Hotel New York City – Check-in and Common Areas
I arrived about 11:15 PM, so not surprisingly, I was the only guest in line. A friendly agent checked me in quickly and had me on my way. Most importantly, he didn’t hold my mumbling attempt at speech thanks to my frozen face against me…
As the façade suggests, The Renwick is set in a historic building, in this case constructed in 1928. The building itself features a rich history as a haven for some of America’s most prominent writers. F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck both lived here during the building’s time as a long-stay residence. Developers eventually repurposed the building as a hotel, which opened in 2015. The hotel officially became part of Hilton’s Curio Collection last year.
Anyway, I point out the building’s history, because it significantly influences the hotel’s design. The Renwick partners with up-and-coming New York artists to decorate the lobby and guestrooms. You’ll notice works celebrating the building’s artistic history from the minute you walk in. Especially the building’s literary history, as you can see from the tributes to Fitzgerald and Steinbeck.
One corner of the lobby features a low-slung couch, where you can admire the wall art while waiting for your Uber.
Meanwhile, the corridors take a page from the Virgin America playbook with purple mood lighting.
The Renwick Hotel New York City – Guest Rooms
I booked a “City View” king room. I’d forgotten to check-in online and select a room, but the clerk assigned me a nice one on a high floor – Room 1402. Given that it’s a historic hotel in Midtown Manhattan, I fully expected shoebox-sized rooms. While far from spacious, the room measured larger than I expected.
The side closest to the window contains a small but functional working desk. I appreciated that the lamp aimed the light downwards, giving you brightness where you need it without blinding your eyeballs. The window shade also has a kinda cool outline sketch of the New York skyline. Incidentally, you’ll find this same sketch in all guestrooms, as well as throughout the hotel’s common areas.
An interesting gimmick: there’s a sketch pad on the upper left corner of the desk headboard, along with a cup full of pencils. Supposedly, the hotel places miscellaneous art supplies in each guest room.
Meanwhile, the artistic theme continues throughout the room. If you look closely, the TV stand is shaped like an easel.
Each room also features a quote on the wall by a famous American author or artist. On my wall? A tidbit of wisdom from Andy Warhol.
Between the door and the sleeping area is a full-length mirror, with a small marble stool.
While the room was a bit larger than expected, the bathroom was pretty tight. Surprisingly, though, this was a full bath setup, with both a shower and tub. Water pressure was good, and the water piping hot. Much appreciated, considering it was 18 degrees outside.
Bathroom amenities are unique for a Hilton, with products supplied by Brooklyn-based Apotheke. Soaps and shampoos come in communal dispensers. I’m not a fan of these, and this setup demonstrated why. The pump on the shower gel dispenser barely worked, making for a painfully long wait for soap.
One thing I really appreciated about the room: plenty of power outlets. You’ll find one outlet and two USB ports on both sides of the bed.
Meanwhile, a mini power strip at the desk provides two more plugs and two more USB ports.
As with all Hilton hotels, the hotel provides free, standard WiFi to Hilton Honors members. I found it perfectly adequate, capable of handling an extended FaceTime call to check in on Assistant Travel Editor Ashok. The problem is that it disconnected every time my phone slipped into sleep mode. This seems to be a common problem at Hilton properties. It’s annoying, though ultimately not a big deal.
On the other hand, about that “city view”? Yeah, it leaves something to be desired.
Then again, what can you really expect when modern skyscrapers dwarf your building on all sides. Needless to say, I don’t recommend paying extra for the “view”.
The Renwick Hotel New York City – Other Amenities
If you’re hungry, Bedford & Co. downstairs serves up Argentinian-style grilled meats and seafood, courtesy of celebrity chef John Delucie. Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the restaurant. I already had breakfast plans with my cousin, so didn’t drop in. However, the space seems elegant, if a bit old fashioned, especially the bar.
Though hardly cheap, prices aren’t horrible either, with most main dinner plates ranging from $20-30. Oh, and if you’re a “Man vs Food” fan, try the 40-ounce bone-in ribeye steak…
Should you need to work off the ribeye the next morning, consider visiting the fitness center. It’s a bit industrial looking, though, what with the unfinished ceiling and all.
The Renwick Hotel New York City – Final Thoughts
I wasn’t sure I’d be a fan of the hotel’s artsy design. Hipsterizing a historic building usually doesn’t work in my opinion. But in this case, I think The Renwick pulls it off. Given the building’s history as a home for America’s great literary minds, the artistic theme actually seems perfectly appropriate. The fairly reasonable rates and good location are nice bonuses. Just don’t bother paying the upcharge for a “city view” room, unless you enjoy staring at the middle of a skyscraper.
In addition, I like the Curio concept in general. I usually prefer independent boutiques to big chains, especially in larger cities. Often, I find they convey the local character and culture better than a generic Hilton or Marriott. Of course, the trade-off is no points or award stays, apart from the credit card variety. But if I can get the character of a small boutique with the opportunity to earn and burn points? That seems like a win-win in my book.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my recent weekend trip to New York the long way. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.