As Myra already told us, the perky W welcome agents talk a lot. Which was helpful since our check-in took about eight minutes longer than it should have. It wasn’t that the futuristic light-show lobby was crowded—the issue seemed to be with the computer systems that require more than one person to operate and lots of earnest stares to kick into action.
We had emailed Guest Services in advance to let them know we would be expecting a UPS package that we had routed to the hotel to our attention, and the agent who had replied left her station to come and greet us and say, “You’re expecting a package, let me go and fetch it.” It wasn’t within easy reach, apparently, so she returned and said, “It’s not right here but we’ll send it up to your room.” Peachy. Or so we thought ...
Room Reaction: Myra called the design ‘Bladerunner with accents of blinding neon and red’. Our first thought was Japanese Jetsons space capsule. And our next was: Isn’t such a slick, modern decor going to date fast? OK, so we did like the showpiece modal desk and closet design, and the way it curves into a little stool at the end, helpfully located right near where you walk in. (Step right in, take a load off!) But our attention was stolen by the window dead ahead.
The window seat is a cute idea—but it faces north, so your view is of construction across narrow Albany Street, and the cranes of Ground Zero beyond it. We’re not squeamish about being so close to the site, but we expect some tourists—the kind who still walk by with stunned faces or stand by it with a hand over their mouths—may be.
Amenity Madness: The standard W fare: Bliss toiletries (is it just us or are these among the tiniest of the hotel bath goodies out there?), a pricey, cutely curated minibar, and some design magazines splayed out on the window seat.
Internet Connect: It’s not free in the rooms. Wired/WiFi use starts at $6.95 for 30 minutes (full-day access is $14.95), although there is free WiFi available in the Living Room lounge and bar area of the hotel.
Service Growing Pains Remember that package the kind Whatever/Whenever agent was so eager to deliver to our room? It still hadn’t arrived when we got back to our room around 10:30 p.m. When we called to inquire about it, there was some confusion about where it was but the agent told us she’d check with security and call us back. She didn’t—and when we called the front desk back she had gone home. Another agent ran through the same apologetic, we’re not sure where it is, let me ask security routine, but we weren’t impressed that the first agent we spoke to had not done as she’d promised and called us back.
In the end, it turns out the package was not even at the hotel. The last agent we were transferred to finally copped to this, and offered to call UPS if we could provide the tracking number. This was good service—but it should have come about six hours prior when we were first checking in. We don’t expect hotel staff to pluck a package out of the air when it’s UPS’s fault it hasn’t arrived, but we do expect them to be upfront from the get-go, rather than try to impress with promises they can’t keep.
The next morning, we had another unplanned experience that tested the mettle of the W’s guest service, but we’ll save that for a separate story. We can tell you that it involved a piece of that brand-new hotel-room design that did not work but a fast and friendly response from the hotel staff.
What We Liked: The comfortable W Signature Bed, the lack of a scene in the lobby, the faint whiff of newness in our roomy-enough-for-New-York-City room. The window seat, at least in theory. In the gym, we appreciated the unexpected addition of a heavy bag, gloves, and speed ball for boxing drills.
What We Didn't Like: The noise on our floor in the middle of the night—drunken neighbors stumbling around trying to find their room; the rain shower with such pitiful water pressure, it felt like London drizzle on our heads; the confusion over the package we were expecting; the odd location (downtown is fine, but the hotel is off the beaten track even for FiDi types); and the fast-getting-old peekaboo shower. After all, won’t this be mostly a business hotel? Even though it’s mostly frosted glass, is the tease really necessary?
Bottom Line: Staff here were doing their best to deliver the W message of Whatever/Whenever, but there were still some kinks in the execution. They should figure this out in the next few weeks. Our room was comfortable but the quirks were not worth it. Certain corporate types may find it ‘cool’, but straight-up suits either know better or are already hanging out a few blocks uptown for the real downtown NYC scene.
We paid $242 a night + tax for our Wonderful Room.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more photos of the Living Room bar and terrace, and BLT Bar & Grill.