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As I have shared many times over, the reason I got seriously into miles and points was to keep my daughter connected to her family, and if my balances plummeted, that would be the use that remained after the others were gone. I wanted her cousins, grandparents, and more to not just be known as names on birthday cards or photos on Facebook. I wanted them to be people that she actually knows and cares about, and who hopefully actually care about her. I was blessed to grow up in close proximity to my cousins, and as a result they are still a big part of my life today. Heck, we even still vacation together!
My daughter will have a different experience than me as she has to get on an airplane to visit one set of grandparents and her cousins, but thanks to miles, points, and deals I can still give her every opportunity to have extended family be a big, positive part of her life. Over the 4th of July weekend that is exactly what we did.
This trip came to be as a piggy-bag on joining my dad for a “bucket list” trip to see the fireworks in Washington DC. I thought it would be the most economical to go ahead and combine the two trips by flying into DC, seeing the 4th activities there, then taking Amtrak to NYC to visit family on July 5th. A few days later we flew home out of NYC and thus were able to combine two trips into one. That cuts down on travel time and airfare costs.
If you are curious, you can read about the first parts of the two city trip here:
The focal point of the trip to NYC was a “slumber party” for C and her two girl cousins + a visit with grandparents. Her cousins live a train ride away from NYC in Connecticut, but like in many houses in the Northeast, there aren’t things like guest bedrooms, extra bathrooms, etc. We could have all shared one bathroom and taken over their entire living room floor with blow-up mattresses for us and the grandparents, but that sounds like something you do during times of natural disaster, not for one night of fun. Certainly isn’t my style of fun.
So, we did a version of fun that is more our style with a night in the two-bedroom suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue. Staying there meant we were a short walk away from Bryant Park and a longer walk from Central Park, both of which we utilized heavily on our 24 hour “slumber party”. Getting this suite wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ll get to the how later on, first here’s how it went.
Video Tour of Andaz Two-Bedroom Suite:
If you have never watched a video we have made before, let this be your first. The girls wanted to do a tour of the suite for me, so we did it. Totally unscripted. Totally hopped up on sugar. Totally chaotic. Totally awesome. Oh, and despite all that you get a good feel for the suite, too.
In case you wanted a little more detailed (or slower pace) review than the video had to offer, then here are some shots and thoughts on the two bedroom suite.
The living room was made up of a pull-out couch, long work desk, and extra chair. The whole family made up of six adults plus the littles fit in there reasonably well for the purposes of just hanging out and chatting – which was the main point of the suite. We wanted to stay somewhere that afforded us the chance to make the most of the 24 hour visit by being in a comfortable space to just hang out.
The TV itself did not work very well when we wanted to use it to access Netflix or even the on-demand movies. Several calls to maintenance and even a visit by a friendly maintenance tech didn’t do the trick. That put a little damper of the evening slumber party fun, but wasn’t a make or break occurrence.
The milk and cookies that were delivered almost offset the TV problem. I’m still not sure if one of us ordered those or the hotel gave them to us as part of the sleepover extravaganza, but they were quite good and perfect for the occasion.
The living room pull-out couch was helpful in providing beds for lots of little heads. That brought the bed count to a grand total of three beds in the two bedroom suite.
The Master Bedroom:
The master bedroom was quite large (for NYC) with high ceilings. Like pretty much all of the hotel, there is a very minimalistic style which kind of leads to lots of “dead space”, but I loved it. We have stayed in the Andaz 5th Avenue before, and this bedroom was much larger than the bedroom in the Splash Suite.
Unlike in the Splash Suite, there is no bathtub in this suite, but there is the large and modern style shower down a small hallway from within the bedroom.
The second bedroom and bathroom looked just like the first, though a little bit smaller.
Still large enough for three girls and a Grandma to read a book, so perfectly acceptable.
Kitchen, Free Food, and Breakfast:
There is a very small kitchen area in the room that isn’t overly useful for making a full meal, but is extraordinarily useful for a free snack. As you may or may not already know, the Andaz chain is known for providing free mini bar items (other than alcohol). That meant the waters, juices, sodas, and snacks were all free. The room was a bit light on the edible snack side, but very helpful with juices and waters.
We were given complimentary juices and waters at check-in as well, which was a nice touch and saved us quite a bit given the number of people in our party and the price of such things in NYC!
As a Hyatt Diamond member we have free breakfast for all registered members of the room, and at this hotel they let you take that perk via room service. However, when you take the perk via room service here you are given a flat credit to use that frankly does not cover the number of guests in a two-bedroom suite. I have read the credit in a regular room is $75 for breakfast via room service, and I think we got maybe $100 in credit for the breakfast in the suite. This obviously did not cover the entire cost of breakfast for all of us at NYC room service prices, but it did cover enough of the tab that breakfast was back in the pretty affordable realm.
There was no way we were going to ruin the slumber party vibe early in the morning to all get dressed and head out for breakfast. We wanted lemon poppyseed pancakes in our pajamas goshdarnit!
Why the Andaz Fifth:
In case this question hasn’t already answered itself, we selected the Andaz Fifth Avenue for our one night gathering for a few different reasons. First, I had stayed there before and quite enjoyed the stay. I knew we would very likely have another comfortable stay and the focus could be on having fun and not worrying about a bad hotel selection.
Second, they have big suites that we could actually (kind of) afford given a little creative negotiating. They also have the freebies thrown in such as the Diamond breakfast, juices, and waters that made the stay extra comfortable. The location was very good for our needs as we had a picnic dinner and lunch in nearby Bryant Park, plus we were able to walk uptown to Central Park without much trouble.
The New York Public Library is also right across the street, but sadly was closed that weekend for the 4th of July holiday. We also got to put my 4PM guaranteed Diamond late check-out to good use so we could make the most of our day. Finally, well, I got to earn more Hyatt points, so that’s always good.
I am sure a two bedroom suite in NYC at the Andaz sounds a bit over-the-top for a kid’s slumber party, and if you look at it that way, it might be. However, if you look at it as the perfect spot to make the most of 24 hours with extended family you don’t get to see very often then, it was a killer investment and one of our best travel choices to date.
How we did it:
I don’t mind spending some real cash on certain aspects of travel from time to time, but my bank account isn’t healthy enough to handle the regular going rate of close to $1,000/night for a two-bedroom suite in NYC. Instead what we did was combine the reservations of two base rooms we had booked at the Andaz using the lowest rates we could find, and upgraded into level entry suites with Diamond Upgrades, into one two-bedroom suite. We probably actually lost a little bit of square footage in that trade, but we gained a way for us to stay together and relax in the same space.
I negotiated this with the general manager by email after some back and forth with turning down some other different options she presented that I couldn’t quite afford. This suite upgrade was very much not a ‘blogger perk’ in case that thought crossed through anyone’s mind. It was still not cheap, but much cheaper the way we negotiated it than outright paying the going rate. I couldn’t afford it for a week, but it was worth every penny for one night.
Of course if you don’t need that much space, you can get regular rooms here via the sign-up bonus nights from the Hyatt Visa or for 25,000 Hyatt points per night or $150 a night + 12,500 points via a cash and points reservation. If you are short on Hyatt points they transfer in 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus® Business Card.
Remember if you have Hyatt Diamond Upgrades to spend (and you get those simply by obtaining a Hyatt Diamond Challenge), you can even use those on cash and points reservations to confirm a suite. That would at least get you in the Splash Suite and then you could try negotiating from there if you needed more space.
I can’t say enough good things about how perfect the Andaz 5th was for our short family gathering in NYC. We had the space and comfort to just relax and enjoy, and I think that has to be the point.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.