My husband and I recently spent 3 nights at the Surrey and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. My request for a a quiet room (not always easy to accomplish in New York, based on past experiences) was readily met, which certainly helped to make the stay enjoyable.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with what we found to be the ideal mix of "friendly, yet professional" (some might find it a bit casual, but we tend to prefer this to pomp and circumstance). The art that greets you is a treat too! Our corner room was spacious enough (room for a king bed, arm chair, small writing desk, armoire and yes, you can actually walk around the room too!). The bed was to die for; comfortable, lovely large pillows and good quality sheets/duvet. A decent size bathroom (no tub in the salon room we stayed in), with marble finish and plenty of towels, etc. Wifi is available for a fee (even in the business centre?!), which was a disappointment.
Upon arrival, we went for a drink on the rooftop patio. Service was good and the view of all the beautiful art deco buildings on the upper east side was a treat. Drinks are on the pricey side (cocktails start at 18$) but frankly, I could barely finish mine (it was ample!). If I had one complaint, it would be the lack of options for bar food, but perhaps they do this to encourage guests to dine in the restaurant or order room service. We did order room service for dinner and it was average (in terms of price and quality). It did arrive promptly and all the accoutrements were included, but the food itself was lacklustre (a bit bland, not so sure about the use of processed cheese slices on our sandwich).
I have to sing the praises of housekeeping. They did an absolutely phenomenal job with the room, both for the morning cleaning and turn down service. We were always well stocked with toiletteries, water, towels, etc. The room was spotless for the duration of our stay.
Location wise, potential guests who are not familiar with the city should be aware it's a relatively quiet area at night. There is a bar in the hotel ( Bar Pleiades...we did not check it out) or alternately, you are right across the street from Bemelmens at the Carlyle. The hotel is a couple blocks from the subway station (although only the 6 line runs through the area) which is an easy and affordable way to get around (30$ gets you an unlimited 7 day pass) or, of course, you can always use cabs. Central park is a few blocks away and you are very close to plenty of museums, great shopping, etc.
We would suggest this hotel to people (we saw a mix of guests-older couples, young people, families) who are looking to be close enough to the hustle and bustle of the city without being right in the centre of it. Would definitely stay here again.