Review: Andaz 5th Avenue – New York

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

This post is part of a broader Aruba & NYC trip report from October 2015.

  1. Introduction
  2. Review: American Airlines 777-200 Economy Class (LHR-MIA)
  3. Review: Amex Centurion Lounge – Miami
  4. Review: American Airlines 737 Economy Class (MIA-AUA)
  5. Review: Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club
  6. Review: American Airlines Admirals Club Miami (Gate 30)
  7. Review: American Airlines 737 First Class (MIA-LGA)
  8. Review: Andaz 5th Avenue
  9. Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
  10. Review: American Airlines 777-300ER Business Class (JFK-LHR)

We stayed at the Andaz 5th Avenue in October 2014 and found that it lived up to a lot of the good reviews we had read – so we decided to book again for our trip this year.

Cost

As I mentioned in the introduction to this trip report, we used Hyatt Gold Points for this stay.  The Andaz 5th Avenue is one of Hyatt’s Category 6 hotels so, with awards cost 25,000 points/night, our three night stay set us back 75,000 Hyatt Gold Points. 100% of the Hyatt Points we used came from credit card spend on our Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink credit cards.

If you’re looking to book the hotel with cash, rates for a standard room never seem to go lower than around $300/night and are often in the $500 – $600/night range.

Award Availability

I’ve never had trouble finding award nights at the Andaz 5th Avenue – each time I’ve searched the exact dates that I’ve needed have been available (but I do search/book quite a few months in advance).

For the purposes of this blog post I just checked random 5-night date ranges in December, February, April, June and August and found award availability for every night.

Location

One of the biggest selling points of the Andaz 5th Avenue is it’s location. Unless you need to be towards the bottom of Manhattan (Wall Street/Financial area) most of the major places people will want to visit are within easy walking distance.

Andaz 5th Avenue Map

First Impressions & Check-In

Andaz hotels don’t have a regular cheek-in desk like most other hotels – they’re a bit too “hip” for that. Instead they have an area in the lobby where staff use MacBooks to check guest into the hotel and deal with anything else the guest needs.

Andaz 5th Venue New York ReviewAndaz 5th Avenue “front desk”

We arrived at the hotel shortly after 6pm and, although our room was not yet ready, it didn’t take more than 15 minutes before we were checked in and heading up in the elevators.

The staff at the front desk were as friendly and helpful as I remembered then from last year and they talked us through the amenities of the hotel including free coffee in the lobby in the morning and free wine in the evenings.

Andaz 5th Venue New York ReviewSeating area adjacent to the lobby with coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings

The Andaz 5th Avenue likes to do things in a minimalist way so there isn’t that much in the way of decoration around the hotel. The hallways can appear a bit sparse….

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

…although they’ve made an effort with the areas around the elevators:

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

The Room

We were allocated a room on the 6th floor of the building and, this year, trips to the room involved just a single elevator (last year we had to go up to the 2nd floor, walk along a corridor and then take a second elevator before we reached our floor).

On entering our room the bedroom/living area was straight ahead:

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

The room was a good size and had a very comfortable king-size bed:

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

There was a sofa (of sorts) in one corner:

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

And a good-sized desk for getting some work done opposite:

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

There was a large flat-screen TV on the wall right in front of the bed…..

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…and the glass/wood case you can see to the right of the TV held the mini-bar and safe.

Andaz 5th Venue New York Review

The mini-bar is one of the little treats that Andaz provides in that all the soft drinks and snacks are complimentary and they’re replenished on request.

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

As the note says, the alcoholic drinks come at the usual inflated prices:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

I love the idea of the free soft drinks. They cost the Andaz next to nothing to provide and the gesture generates a lot of good feeling from travelers like me who hate the constant overcharging you get at most hotels.

As silly as this probably sounds, this is the part of the Andaz brand that makes me want to stay with them some more – not because of a few cheap soft drinks but because it makes me feel that they’ve actually thought about what they can do to make guests’ lives a little bit easier when they’re on the road….and without trying to gouge them at the same time.

Anyway, back to the room.

The bathroom was large….and shiny:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

And it has to be a huge annoyance to whichever poor soul has to clean all that glass and chrome every day – but it looks ok.

The toiletries provided were nice…

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

…and the shower cubicle was enormous….

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Although it has the one feature I hate most in overly modern showers – it isn’t enclosed.

Despite the size of the cubicle, it’s nearly impossible not to splash water on the bathroom floor. I just wish they’d employ a centuries-old device known as “a door” when constructing these things – how hard would that be?

As you can probably see from the photos, the minimalist look from the corridors continues into the rooms – a little bit more decor would not go amiss as, although comfortable, the room can feel a bit spartan.

The minimalist decor actually has a bit more of an impact than just making the room feel a little bit bare – the room could do with a bit more practical storage space too. The only wardrobe in the room is a glass cabinet by the door:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

And the only other places for clothes storage were the drawers in the night stands by the bed (one drawer in each):

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Joanna and I agreed that we would have preferred not to have the sofa if it could be replaced with a chest of drawers or (and this is Joanna’s request) a “dressing table” of some kind (with drawers!).

The View

The room overlooked 5th Avenue and gave a great view of the new York Public Library…..

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

….and, while it was a very nice view to have, it came with its own challenge – New Yorkers.

I’ve come to the conclusion that New Yorkers believe that the car horn is in some way linked to the propulsion of their vehicle – there can be no other reason for the amount of time they spend using it. Joanna thinks the horn is something New Yorkers use instinctively whether they need to or not….and she may have a point. I lost count of the number of times I heard a driver use his/her horn for no apparent reason – often there was no one else near them!

All of this leads me to the problem with having a view over 5th Avenue – noise. If you like sleeping past 6:30am it’s probably not going to happen unless you’re a deep sleeper. The vehicle horns start like clockwork and then there’s just no stopping them. It actually worked well for me because it meant that I was always awake early enough to do a bit of work before we had a nice day out in New York. But it would get more than a little tiresome if you were there for more than a couple of days and needed rest.

Tip: Request a quiet room away from 5th Avenue if you’re visiting on vacation and would like a lie-in. A view of the air-conditioning vents would be preferable to all the noise.

Connectivity

The Andaz 5th Avenue provides free WiFi for guests throughout the building. I needed to upload quite a few files to the internet during our stay and I didn’t find I had any issues with transfer speeds. It was a solid high-speed connection.

The room controls are all very convenient as the blinds and all the lights can be controlled from panels on either side of the bed – and, as a guy who loves a gadget, that’s something I really like 🙂

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

It was also good to have a couple of USB points next to the bed as well as the usual sockets – a nice touch and very helpful for those with numerous electronic devices to charge. It also partially eliminates the need for adapters for visitors from abroad – most smaller electronic devices can be charged by USB nowadays.

Dining:

We did most of out eating and drinking outside of the hotel but we did spend part of one evening in the “The Bar Downstairs”….

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

….which, as the name suggests, is in the basement of the hotel.

Apologies in advance for the terrible photos but (a) it was dark and (b) I didn’t want to keep taking photos of all the other guests who were trying to get on with their evening.

The bar is dark and has the feel of a speakeasy brought into the 21st Century (I can’t think of any other way to describe it):

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

The exposed brickwork at the back was nice….

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

….as were the craft beer, the wine and the “small plates” we had:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

The staff were super friendly and the whole atmosphere was nice – it was a good place to spend a couple of hours just relaxing.

The Andaz has a restaurant on the ground floor, called “The Shop” which we didn’t try – but I did take a few pictures:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

The Andaz 5th Avenue website has this to say about it:

Evoking an intimate and entertaining vibe, the shop at Andaz 5th Avenue is a neighborhood-centric restaurant serving delicious, simple foods that change with what’s at the height of the season. The Shop offers fresh, local cuisine in a chic, casual atmosphere. It will be one of your favorite restaurants in Manhattan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our menus feature dishes made from farm fresh ingredients from local producers from New York State.

What I saw of it looked nice but Joanna mentioned that the menu (which I didn’t see) looked a bit pricey, even for New York.

Other Amenities

The hotel has a very well equipped gym in the basement:

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

And there’s an area adjacent to the lobby with an iMac and printer for any basic computing/printing needs guests may have (including a link to airline boarding passes).

Andaz 5th Avenue New York Review

Overall

I’ve been quite tough on the hotel in some parts of this review but I still quite like the place. The staff are all very helpful and friendly and the location is fantastic. I’m really not sure there’s a hotel with a better location if you’re looking for a base from which to explore Manhattan.

The noise is an issue if you’re overlooking 5th Avenue, so I’ll be requesting a room towards the back of the building next time – I’m happy to sacrifice the view for a bit more sleep.

The Bar Downstairs was fun and a nice option to have – especially for those evenings where you just don’t feel like going out after a day wandering around New York.

Overall, despite a few things I’d like to see improved, I still think this was an excellent use of Hyatt Gold Passport points and, unless we book the Andaz Wall St (just to see how it compares), I can see us booking the Andaz 5th Avenue for our next trip to NYC.

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