Hotel Review: Andaz Fifth Avenue With a Family

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As part of our “Christmas in NYC” visit, we spent a couple of nights at the Andaz Fifth Avenue. I have been looking forward to this visit for a very long time as I consistently have heard it is one of the best Hyatt Hotels in Manhattan.  If you are interested in catching up on some of the other posts in this series, here they are:

Getting to NYC: BusinessFirst on the 787

The Macy’s Santa Line

Grand Hyatt – VIP Suite Review

NYC Holiday Activities with a Family

Andaz Fifth Avenue – Splash Suite Review (this post)

NYC Logistics with a Family

Andaz Fifth Avenue Location:

The Andaz Fifth Avenue is located directly across from the Public Library on Fifth Avenue.  The actual entrance to the hotel is on a side street, but the location is right across from Patience and Fortitude (the lions).  My daughter loved them!  The nearest major cross street is 41st Street, so that makes this location very walkable to Times Square, Empire State Building, Macy’s at 34th Street, Bryant Park, Grand Central, etc.  Even my daughter was able to handle most of those walks, so older children should have no trouble at all.

We did not have the easiest times getting cabs here.  There is no official “doorman” who hails cabs for you the way they do at the Grand Hyatt, and for whatever reason, we often had to wait quite a long time on that part of Fifth Avenue to get a cab.  So, if that is something that is important to you, take it into consideration.

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The Lobby:

Apologies for not having any great shots of the lobby, but it has a little reading area, a place you can get snacks like nuts, fruits, and water, and a sitting area.  There is also a restaurant on the lobby level.  The actual check-in section is one of the newer configurations where there is not a formal counter, but rather an informal area in the center and “hosts” who are available to assist you.  It all feels very fancy and futuristic, but everyone was very nice and accommodating….even to our two-year-old.

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The Splash Suite:

I knew from reading other reviews of this hotel that we would do best in the Splash Suite.  Not only did it offer a separate living room and bedroom (important for nap time and toddler bedtime), but it also had a tub available.  My kid does way better in tubs than showers, so we really wanted this particular suite both because it looked awesome and it afforded some practical amenities for our family.  We were staying on points, so I knew getting into this suite wasn’t going to be easy.

I started up an email conversation with a person who worked at the Andaz and was offered an upgrade to the Splash Suite for $300 per night.  I tried to negotiate it down and was presented with the option to use a confirmed suite upgrade to the Andaz King Suite, and could then pay just a $150 fee per night to upgrade from that suite to the Splash Suite.   However, I think when that option was presented the man I was working with didn’t remember I was staying on points.  I guess I could have probably used 33,000 points per night for a suite and then paid the $150 per night from that base suite to the Splash Suite, but by that point it was all getting too complicated so I went with the original offer.

I have heard of some Diamond members getting upgraded to this suite without paying an additional fee, but I didn’t want to risk it for such a special visit.  It was a prime holiday weekend in Manhattan and I wanted it locked in.  I think the extra money was worth it for our short stay, but you would have to do the math to determine if it is worth it for your family.  We were able to not only sleep in our room, but comfortably hosted my parents a couple times (and had them babysit there one evening), and even some NYC friends which was a huge luxury.  That would not have worked nearly as well if we were in a base-level room.

Here are some shots of the living room.  It comfortably held 4-5 of us in the evenings.

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20121217-133905.jpgOne of the neat things about the Andaz is that the mini bar items are complimentary (other than alcohol), so we made good use of the snacks, sodas, and water.  The snacks were not replenished while we were there, but the drinks were.

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This bathtub is what gives the Splash Suite its name.  The tub was ginormous and our daughter had an absolute bath “swimming” in it.  For what it is worth, she also had fun pretending the hose was a phone.

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20121217-134007.jpgThe suite is laid out such that the bathtub area connects the living room to the bedroom, so there isn’t a ton of privacy if you want to soak while having guests over, but it is perfect for when you have the suite to yourselves.  The shower and the rest of the bathroom area is located off of the bathtub section with sliding doors.  The entire bathroom was very clean and modern.  The shower was fantastic!

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20121217-134045.jpgThe bedroom section of the suite just has enough room for getting in the bed or sitting on the lounger.  You should store your stuff in the tub area, or the bedroom will feel quite cramped.  There is no room in the bedroom for a rollaway, but some small kids could probably sleep on the lounger, if you wanted.  Our daughter just crawled in bed with us and it worked out just fine.  We are sometimes a bit “challenged”, so we didn’t figure out that there were black0ut shades until the last day we were there.  That would have been helpful, but it was also fun to enjoy the views of the city as we fell asleep.

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20121217-134207.jpgYou will hear street noise at this hotel, but it didn’t seem to bother any of us one tiny bit.  It just adds to the ambiance.  😉

Breakfast:

The Diamond breakfast at this hotel is fantastic.  They allow a $75 credit per day that you can use either in the restaurant or via room service.  I wish all Hyatts offered something similar.  There was no question as to what to order since my friend Gary at View From the Wing has raved so many times about the Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes.  In my experience, he has very good taste in food, so who was I to question which item to select.  Yes, pancakes were that good.  They really didn’t taste like pancakes at all actually.  They tasted just slightly crispy on top, and almost like a rich and fruity sponge cake on the bottom.  It was perfect.  I ordered them both days and would again in the future.  I tasted some of the other food that my daughter and husband ordered over the course of the stay (as shown below), but the pancakes are not to be missed.

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At least one of the days we did go over the $75 daily Diamond breakfast allowance and were billed accordingly, but if you order a little more selectively than we did then two people could certainly stay under the $75 cap.

For those interested, the Diamond amenity offered at check-in was either 1,000 Gold Passport points or a $15 food and beverage credit.  I would personally prefer either the 1,000 points or a food and beverage amenity as is offered by most other Hyatts, but I just took the points and didn’t look back.

How You Can Do It:

Just like most other NYC hotels, this hotel can be pretty pricey in the $400 – $500 range some nights (though I have seen it under $300 from time to time).  As such, the hotel is a top tier Category 6 Hyatt that requires 22,000 points per night.  If you are short on Hyatt points you can transfer them in from Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1 using cards like the
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Plus Business Card.  This is also a hotel that would be worth using your two free nights that come with the Hyatt Credit Card (make a reservation on Hyatt.com and you may get an offer for a $100 statement credit on top of the two free nights).

Be aware that technically, only some of the larger specialty rooms suites can accommodate 3 or 4 persons, and those specialty rooms are not available via point redemptions for standard rooms.  You could use points and then pay a premium for a larger room, use 33,000 points per night for a suite, or try to negotiate another arrangement directly with the hotel.

I personally found this hotel to be a better redemption as a Category 6 hotel than the nearby Grand Hyatt that is also a Category 6.

Overall Impressions:

While this is not a hotel marketed toward families, we did encounter several families with younger children on the weekend we were there, and we certainly felt welcome at the hotel with our daughter.  The location can’t be beat for many NYC tourist attractions and the view is spectacular.  They treat Diamond members very well with the breakfast benefit, and the food was almost reason enough to return by itself.

Honestly, I am going to have a hard time going to a different NYC hotel as I had such a great stay here.  The Hyatt 48 Lex is arguably a better redemption value currently since it is just 15K points per night, but this hotel was just so darn comfortable, while at the same time “special”, that I loved it.  I highly recommend that everyone try it out on a Manhattan visit at least once.  Just don’t blame me if you get addicted to the Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes.  Blame Gary.

 

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Comments

  1. The breakfast is really good but often slow in coming, and the $75 credit is fairly hard to keep track of, especially since they don’t give you a bill.

  2. Wow, you paid $300 per night for a bathtub?
    Your 3-4 night trip probably cost $900 just for the hotels plus 44,000 points. WOW!
    My 4 night trip to NYC cost $49. Yes, just $49 for hotel stays and no points used.
    I stayed three nights at the Andaz in the Andaz Suite(looks pretty much the same less bathtub)
    Oh and if you dont have diamond status and can’t afford room service, don’t fret- there’s an Asian restaurant across the street that sells very fresh and inexpensive bakery items. Plus drink the milk and coffee from the mini bar and you are set.

  3. Carl, agree it was a little hard as there was no bill. We didn’t experience any delays in room service breakfast this time, but good to know it happens.
    Barb, How did you have 4 nights in NYC for $49 with no points? Amazing! Yup, it was an investment, but the suite was not obtained just for the bathtub – though that was a very helpful selling point for us. We also utilized the space during naps, for hosting friends/family, and to give my parents some place to hang out while they babysat C one night for us. It was very much worth it for us on the trip as we used all elements of the Splash Suite to the fullest on this particular trip.

  4. Blaine, white things? There are some tomatoes in the photos. For whatever reason C kept saying she wanted tomatoes so we ordered them. 😉

  5. Hi MP, I’m thinking of taking my family of four (sons 7 and 8) to NYC next year. Which hotel would you suggest using Hyatt points?
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Laura, I have heard there are a couple of rooms at the 48 Lex that can accommodate 4…..so that is worth a call to see if you can secure one of them on points. That would be my first attempt due to the tremendous value at 15K right now. Otherwise, the easiest route is the Grand Hyatt as they have many rooms with two double beds. Of course, if you are interested in trying to get upgraded rooms your options open up, but those are my suggestions for base level rooms.

      Ooooh, almost forgot. The Hyatt Place Midtown will be open by then as a Category 4 so that is another option for a family.

  6. great review! I arrive tomorrow and am hoping to get an upgrade to a splash suite (Currently using a suite upgrade for the Andaz Suite) but certainly no guarantees around Christmas.

    Any fun things you did in NYC? We are thinking of battery park across the street, the library, of course, and maybe seeing a musical…

    • Michael, good luck on getting the splash suite! I have my fingers crossed for you. At the top of this post is a link to the activities we did in NYC. Lots of fun stuff near there!

  7. Great review! I will be staying there for 2 nights in May and am very excited…may I ask how you got to the hotel? I’m trying to decide which option is best – cab/subway/shuttle/etc.

  8. @ sharon, We flew into Laquardia and used Uber car service. Very nice, fast, and efficient. However, we had a credit which was earned from reading View from Wing blog, otherwise the trip would be $51.00. We flew out of Newark and took the Newark Express http://www.coachusa.com/olympia/ss.newarkairport.asp
    which you catch across the street from Bryant Park. It is $16.00 per person one way and they take credit cards on board.

  9. @barb – Thanks! We are doing the same thing – flying into LGA and flying out of Newark. The Newark Express sounds great!

    @mommypoints – That is good to know, I was researching bus/shuttle options and was wondering if the drop off at Grand Central would be too far to walk from. Guess not:)

    • Sharon, it was pushing the limit of too far with bags and a toddler, but it was still doable. Certainly would be doable with fewer bags and/or without a toddler. We also did a car service to/from EWR. My parents did the train, but that wasn’t practical for us with all our stuff this time.

  10. For those in a standard room, the hotel gave us some sheets and an extra pillow and our 5 year old was comfortable on the oversized chaise. I was concerned like MP about how our daughter would be received at the hotel, but everything went pretty well. I wasn’t as big a fan of the breakfast, so we took a cab to Sarabeth’s our second morning there. We just asked the host to hail a cab for us when we needed it and they were pretty accomodating. It cost about $45 each way from LGA by cab.

  11. Sometimes I wonder just what kind of message you are sending to families just getting started in the miles and points game – between this trip (spending $300/night for an upgrade) to NY and your trip to London for the Olympics (spending $2,000 out of pocket for business class airfare). It seems your message to the average family is not so much to collect miles and points so you can experience family vacations and trips you might otherwise not be able to afford, but rather that points and miles just aren’t enough once you get a taste of international business class and splash suites.

    I really don’t see how the average family can relate to you, and I don’t think we need to use your credit card links you are constantly touting so that you can spend money so foolishly.

  12. Askia, glad to hear they took care of your daughter. Thanks for sharing!
    Laura, no problem. Keep me posted on your plans – very exciting trip!
    Poor House, well you know those details about my trips because I shared them so as not to paint a false picture of how my trips happen. Lots of miles and points blog sometimes leave those details out, and I want families to have a realistic view of what is possible given their own circumstance. If you want a nice suite in NYC on a prime December weekend it is likely going to take some financial outlay. Not everyone wants, needs, or cares about the room. For those that do, I share how we did it. Everyone has to decide for themselves what is important for the trip and what is realistic for both their financial and miles and points budget.

    All I can do is share what I know, what I do, and how I do it and leave it to other families to decide what is helpful and not helpful for them. We take plenty of trips that are in standard rooms, in economy seats, or on miles/points, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are. Sorry if the info wasn’t useful for you.

  13. While MP has added some luxury travel to her experiences, please keep in mind that the true purpose of miles and points is to enable you to travel with less expenditure of cash outlay. For us, her retired parents, using the points enables us to eliminate the airplane ticket and to use our money for the rest of the trip. For others it may mean splurging on other parts of the trip. We make our own decisions as to how much we can afford to do. At our age, we do not need or want the luxury route, but without her points help, we would not be taking any route. Her advice and expertise has opened up the world of travel to us in ways I could never have expected.

  14. @Poor House: You might do well then to stick closer to home (SlickDeals, Fatwallet, et al). There are more than a few of us with similar family travel patterns as Mommypoints.

  15. We stayed at this hotel last weekend for my birthday and for a holiday NYC visit. As a diamond I used a suite upgrade and got an Andaz suite on the 13th floor–plenty of room for the 2 of us. We did have room service breakfast each day–loved the lemon poppy seed pancake but not so much the brioche french toast–watch out for the costs vs the gratuity, delivery charge etc as our bill at checkout had an overage for the breakfast.
    We tried the evening reception in the library from 6-8 one night–for us it was a complementary glass of wine and not a good one at that.
    The location and the room service breakfast for diamonds are what sets this hotel apart. I was not too impressed by service–you got polite responses when you asked about something but nothing special. It was a splurge at $300 a night and I would not come back except possibly on points.

    • silver springer, good to know. Thanks for sharing! I agree the hotel is a bit of a splurge no matter how you slice it….especially if you want a non-standard room. Happy belated birthday!

  16. Stayed over Thanksgiving weekend. Both my wife and I are platinum. Maybe it’s worth it if you’re a diamond; not so much as anything else. Not impressed at all and won’t be returning. Would characterize the service as impersonal and room adequate.

  17. Thanks for the review, super useful!
    Secured the splash suite using the chase free nights. We’re a family of four. Do you think they will allow us to “squeeze” in?

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