At almost 100 years old, this old hotel built by the Vanderbilt family near the Grand Central Terminal still looks elegant and classy well into the 21st century.
How does it fair in the modern New York?
The hotel is located at East 48th Street, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. It takes about 45 minutes on car from JFK (without jam) and almost 1.5 hours with jam! Alternatively, one can reach there on subway as the nearest metro station from the hotel is at the Grand Central Terminal.
Check in was a breeze. We managed to check in at 1045 am (as part of our Ambassador benefit) and we had a separate check in section. We missed the breakfast by a whisk (breakfast ends at 11 am) but otherwise, those staying in Club Room will get breakfast on check in day (if they check in at 10 am).
As per the Ambassador policy, we get guaranteed one-level upgrade although it was not apparent. I did check with the counter and they confirm that I was indeed upgraded from the deluxe to the premier room. Besides the early check in and guaranteed upgrade, I was also given USD $20 credit which can be utilized in the restaurant or in-room minibar. The one last benefit I enjoyed with my stay was the 4 pm guaranteed check out (just nice for my 850 pm flight out of JFK).
The hotel lobby looks classy despite its age. Unlike most hotels, Club Intercontinental is located at ground floor next to the restaurant (cum bar).
The room we had wasn’t particularly spacious but more than adequate. We had a large king-sized bed, a table and 2 chairs. A small wardrobe is located next to the toilet and the minibar opposite the wardrobe is microchipped. 2 bottled water is provided complimentary daily (inside the fridge) – I was initially hesitant to take it but as there were no other water in the room, I figured that those 2 must be it.
The toilet wasn’t particularly large but comfortable. It comes with a shower cubicle instead of a tub (which is my preference). Amenities are provided and replenished daily too.
Turn down service is available, and you will get 2 pralines every night.
Although small, the room is very cozy and would have been excellent if not for one flaw = bad soundproofing. This can be an issue if you have noisy neighbors who talks well into the night. You barely get any street noise (despite our room facing the 48th street) but all you need is your neighbor talking at above average volume and your sleep will be disturbed. Even the bellman acknowledges this issue as a common complaint among guests.
My favorite part of Intercontinental Hotels has always been the Club Intercontinental. I have had excellent experience in Boston and London but similarly mediocre experience in Toronto. New York Barclay’s Club Intercontinental ranks up there probably slightly below that of Boston. Being at ground floor, the lounge has no windows. It is not large but getting a seat was not an issue during our 2 days there.
The selections may not be great for noon tea and evening cocktail, but breakfast was reasonable. The hot chocolate machine there can be a hit and miss – one moment you can get a tasty cup of hot chocolate and next moment, an extremely diluted cup. I did highlight this to the manager in charge.
I paid USD $440 for 2 nights here (courtesy of my IHG weekend certificate) and this is very reasonable in mid-Manhattan. Even without considering the weekend cert, the daily rate is cheaper than its sister property in Time Square (though slightly less convenient).
I would not hesitate to recommend the Intercontinental New York Barclay to those traveling to New York City.