When compared to other cities, New York City hotels are bad. All travelers know or should know that. (I was born in NYC , lived there much of my life--as did my father and grandfather--and have just bought a Manhattan apartment there, so don't tell me that I am biased against the City.) But this hotel, which asserts it is a four-star facility, is bad even by that lowly standards. It's run by Marriott, which normally does a good job. Perhaps it just gave up this time.
Let's start off with the good. The location, between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal is convenient. An examination revealed no B-Bugs. The TV, although its picture is dark, offers many channels in high definition. It's rooms are clean enough, although the halls and many public spaces are dingy.The operator answers the phone promptly, and the wake-up service rings on time.The exercise room, although spartan, does exist.The internet is free, and, as noted below, not awful. The water was hot and didn't fluctuate in temperature.
Now, let's get to the bad. The cleaning staff didn't know how to make the bed, so that the comforter was installed backwards half the time. Cheap wines in the lounge started at $15 for a small glass and escalated sharply thereafter. The room was hot at night, and lowering the temperature triggered the air conditioner (on some of the coldest nights in NYC's history), which loudly buzzed every time the unit turned on.
The first room they put us in was unbelievably small. One could hardly make it by the bed on either side. It had a musty smell, perhaps signaling mold. The replacement room was adequate in size, although by no means large. Its bathroom though was tiny, and clearly construction was never finished as the pipes to the upper flowers were right next to the toilet, which when flushed made an unbelievably loud sound.
The staff was never able to understand that there were two of us, thereby providing only one very small kimona, one washcloth, one hand towel, and only one soap.
The hotel features that it provides to each guest a copy of The New Yorker. We didn't get one, and when we requested it, they gave one that was not the current edition.
They provide coffee, but only in the lobby in the morning, requiring one to dress up to get one's morning coffee.
Although 12 or so stories, the facility has only two elevators. Those elevators are shared by guests and staff. The staff is located above the top customer floor, so that the elevator has to travel frequently between the basement and the very top to access the staff facility. Some of the indicator lights on the call buttons don't work. The floor selection panels were not cleaned adequately and were therefore difficult to read. To characterize the elevator service as lousy is to downplay the required waits. Sometimes it was full when it eventually arrived, not necessarily with passengers, but with luggage on transportation carts...and of course all this was made worse by guests trudging down to the first floor for their cup of coffee and back up after getting it.
There really is no place near the entrance for the doorman and concierge (or whatever they are since there is no identification), so they stand there clogging up the entrance as they chat with people to no obvious purpose in most cases. Although guests are not supposed to seat themselves in the dinning area, nobody acknowledged our presence when we were planning to eat breakfast. (Fortunately, there is an excellent, reasonably priced informal restaurant right next door to the west, i.e., towards Broadway). Highly recommended.
The internet was slow, throttled to 2 megs up and 1 meg down. The ping was an acceptable 28 ms. That's not good, but it's also not terrible. However, it needs to renewed once each day, which means it disconnects sometime around midnight. So, each morning, one has to go through the nonsense of reconnecting.
Guests are clearly not expected to sleep at night. Our room (#508) looked out onto an air shaft, so one would expect the room to be dark at night. No so. The shaft was well illuminated. The shades are, unbelievably, translucent, so light comes right through them. Also they don't cover the whole window, so light comes in as well around the edges of the shades. The result is that it's almost (but isn't) possible to read at night without turning on any lights. Adding insult to injury, there are two little switches over the bed, one on each side, that are enclosed in a bright ring of light. These switches turns on internal illumination for the pattern over the bed, Each switch lights one-half of the pattern. Why? There really is no explanation given that they obviously unprepared for two people in a room.
For about 10 years starting in 1919 the Algonquin was frequented by literary stars in a group called "The Roundtable". Clearly, the fact they survived 10 years there proves they never stayed in its rooms.