Updated: May 21, 2015
REVIEW: New York Hilton Hotels - Hilton Hotel in MidtownReview of our stay at the Hilton New York in Spring of 2009:
For tourists planning a vacation to New York City, it can often be a daunting task to know which hotel to pick. New York is a big city, home to hundreds of hotels. We get a lot of questions, like: Where is the best place to stay in New York for tourists? What hotels in New York are safe? How much do midtown hotels cost? Hopefully our review and comments can make choosing a hotel in New York a little easier for you -- we've been to New York more than 20 times, and the Hilton New York is one of our favorite places to stay. Why do we prefer the Hilton? We actually have a handful of hotels we like to stay at (see map below), but what they all have in common is location: they are located in the middle of midtown Manhattan, which we feel is the best place for tourists to stay when visiting New York. This area is safe, visitor-friendly, and close to many atrractions (walking distance to Broadway shows, Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Central Park, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central, Museums, Lincoln Center, etc.), with easy access to nearly every subway line if you need to go a little farther afield in your New York adventures. Hotel rooms in New York are normally pretty small, and pretty expensive, so be prepared for that. Depending on day of week and time of year, you should expect to pay from $200 to $400 for a decent room at a decent hotel. With the economic slowdown of 2008-2009, we've seen room rates come down by about almost 1/3 from where they were in prior years. Keep that in mind - a $200 room in 2009 might turn back into a $300+ room by 2010 if business picks back up. But let's move on with our closer look at the New York Hilton Hotel.
Hilton New York ReviewThe Hilton Hotel chain has a number of hotels in the New York area. The one we are reviewing is officially called the Hilton New York, and is located at 1335 Avenue of the Americas, also known as 6th Avenue, between 54th and 53rd Streets (there are other Hiltons at Times Square and downtown). You can see where this is on the map below. The hotel is a 46 story tower, and was the recipient of a $150M upgrade and redesign in 2006.
View Midtown New York Hotels in a larger map
The Hilton is the blue marker at top center, 54th and 6th, about an inch above the heading for Radio City Music Hall. Central Park is 5 blocks to the north, just off the screen, Rockefeller Center is just below center, and Times Square is at the lower left. You can scroll around the map a bit if you want to see where other things are, or zoom in or out. But trust me, this really is the central part of New York, and the best general area to stay in if you are a tourist. The official Hilton website is HiltonFamilyNewYork.com - you can check room rates and availability there. In May of 2009 we paid $199 for weekend nights and $229 for weekday nights for a standard 2 double bed room -- a very good price.
Hilton New York Rooms and AmenitiesGetting there.. We flew into Newark, NJ -- cab fare was about $75 to bring us into Manhattan, and it took around 45 minutes. There are a variety of buses, trains, and shuttles you can take from the airport into New York, but if you aren't familiar with them and you have 2 or 3 passengers to split the fare, we suggest just taking a cab -- it's a lot easier and not a whole lot more expensive. There is actually a covered driveway area just outside the lobby along 6th Ave -- a rarity in this city where you normally stumble out the front door of your hotel onto the busy sidewalk. This means you can get into and out of cabs without worry about the weather. If you are driving, there is an attached parking garage complex located off 53rd midway between 6th and 7th Avenues -- it connects to the rear of the Hilton lobby away from 6th Avenue, just drop off the car and walk into the hotel. Cost of valet parking is $48 per day -- very expensive, but close to normal for overnight parking in midtown (you might find it for $8-$10 cheaper, but don't count on it). There is a large open lobby, with the reception desk to your left as you come in the front doors. Elevator bays are off to the right. Arriving around 4PM, check-in was prompt and courteous. Throughout our stay, the front desk staff was generally helpful -- we lost a key one night, and they promptly replaced it after checking our ID. Anyways, on up to our room on the 34th floor..
Rooms are pretty standard size for New York, fairly small. We had two double beds, both with terrific bedding and pillows. There was the usual desk and chair, plus additional sitting chair. A large armoire housed a 27 inch TV, with drawers below it. In the corner was a small minibar/refrigerator -- it is locked with a tab so they know if you open it, and it is fully stocked with no room for anything of yours. I think drinks were about $7 -- I couldn't find a price list, which is normally standard so you know what you are being charged. There was also a small coffee maker on top of the mini-bar. Bathroom is very small (very little shelf and counter space for 2 people), but nicely finished in marble. A hair dryer is included, as are the usual shampoos, conditioners, etc. We had a slow drain in our tub when showering, a complaint we read from another visitor on Expedia -- hopefully people report these problems to maintenance so they get fixed, otherwise housekeeping may never know about it. We saw a few areas of peeling paint on ceilings and walls -- nothing to make us switch rooms, but perhaps a little below Hilton expectations.
Other than that, everything was clean. Overall the rooms, bathroom, and bedding were very comfortable. One complaint -- wireless internet access is available, but Hilton likes to charge $15 per day for that. How come so many small hotels and motels offer free Internet access, but these big name hotels feel that is something their guests should pay extra for? Come on Hilton, make your guests feel at home and let them use the Internet like they are accustomed to -- it doesn't cost you anything to provide the service.
Large windows look out over other midtown buildings -- not much of a view from the 53rd Street side we were on. Apparently some of the suites on the top floors have better views, but ours was nothing to rave about (see photo below). There are the usual sheer and blackout curtains. You have your own digital thermostat to set the temperature you want -- our cooling unit ran almost continuously but was fairly quiet. TV has pretty good variety of cable channels. Overall our room was quiet -- we could lightly hear water running in the room next door but never had a problem with noise from the hall (we were well away from the elevators, which is a common noise complaint at many hotels). In terms of housekeeping, we returned one day around 2:30PM and our room had still not been made up, the other days everything was fine and the room neat and tidy when we returned each evening. So that's it on the room - clean, nicely furnished, fairly small, but overall very good by New York standards. I would recommend it (and I do!) to my friends and family. Our itemized bill was left under the door on our last morning, and we were able to use their zip checkout feature on the telephone -- just dialed a number and told them we were leaving, and out we went.
As to the rest of the hotel, there is casual dining at the lobby level at the New York Marketplace (buffet style, open 6AM to 2:30PM), and fine Italian dining at Etrusca (5:30PM - 11PM). We didn't eat at Etrusca but read good things about it -- consider a meal there if you don't have other restaurant recommendations. There is also a Starbucks and two bars in the lobby. There is an 8000sf fitness center on the 5th floor, which we never used (if you do a lot of walking around while in NYC, you don't need any "extra" exercise!).
Just to confirm our thoughts about the Hilton New York, we checked into user reviews on Expedia and TripAdvisor. On Expedia, 87% of visitors recommend the Hilton with a 4.2 out of 5 star rating. Comments were almost unanimously positive. On TripAdvisor, 878 reviewers give the New York Hilton 3.5 out of 5 stars (common complaints were small rooms, Internet access fees, parking expense). You can certainly pay more for hotel rooms in New York, but you won't have any regrets if you plan your New York vacation at the Hilton New York.