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“Disappointing”
Review of Empire Hotel

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Empire Hotel
Ranked #342 of 468 Hotels in New York City
Reviewed September 27, 2012

A great location and it looked promising. But the service falls far short for a hotel in this price class.

Arrived at 3 PM, but my room wasn't ready. It wasn't ready when they projected either. So they took my phone number ... and never called to tell me it was ready. Basically I had to keep checking.

My cell phone would not work in the lobby, and there is no phone they could let me use (speaking of phones, to use the landline phone in the room is absurdly expensive even for toll free calls). So I missed a conference call. Being out of my room also prevented me from practicing my upcoming evening speech.

When my room was finally ready, it took 10 minutes to get in an elevator. There are not enough elevators in the building. There was a similar problem when checking out, so I wound up missing my train by 2 minutes. And there is only wait on line in the lobby check out, which leads to further delays.

The room was nice enough, though the bathroom was very cramped and a bit worn.

Perhaps if you visit during a time when it's less crowded, you'll think it's fine.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank ValueTravelerMD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Joseph R, Manager at Empire Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 29, 2012

Dear ValueTravelerMD,

I would like to apologize for your experience at arrival during your stay at The Empire. If promised, our staff should have certainly called when your room was available. I have shared your comments with our Front Office team and will address accordingly. Thank you for sharing your feedback and I sincerely hope we have another opportunity to welcome you back to The Empire.

Sincerely,

Joseph Rauer
Assistant General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 27, 2012

I stayed as a solo traveller two nights at the empire hotel in late Sep and it was a very satisfying stay.

Cost - Conventional wisdom is that hotels are much cheaper outside Manhattan and to a certain extent this is true. If you are driving in, it might be cheaper staying outside and Newark airport area (EWR) probably serves well. However, if you are flying in and want to avoid the harrowing driving experience in city, staying in Manhattan is the best option. I did some investigation and hotels in Jersey City are not that much cheaper (at least the ones which provide easy access to the city). The subway is $2.25 per trip and is very in-expensive and you can travel anywhere in the city for this cost. I got this hotel for around $160 per night and that is a decent price for sep time frame. The  prices are obviously cheapest in jan-mar due to the weather and are more expensive in summer. I now realise that if you look hard enough you might land a decent hotel that is above 3 stars in the $125 price range in Sep too in Manhattan. If a price below $100 is required, i guess choices drop down to hostels and shared bath accommodations. The list price for the empire was $300 per night and that is way too much to pay and paying $500 per night mentioned in some comments for this hotel would be outrageous. 
TIP: With the high number of hotel rooms on sale in NYC, the best rates are usually available couple of days ahead of the stay. The booking made closer to the visit has a better chance of getting an attractive rate.

Location - This is one of the most important points while visiting NYC and it is a quite different experience staying in Manhattan, comparing and contrasting it to commuting from a suburb like NJ. You can go on a late night visit to say Top of the rock at Rock-feller centre that is open till midnight. Commuting to a safe place on subway provides so many more options for visiting attractions. The crime in the big apple is quite low now, but i would not like to stay in a rough neighbourhood and a walk from subway at 2am in the morning would not be prudent and staying in good neighbourhood is worth its price. The empire hotel is right outside Lincoln centre (beginning of the upper west side) which is a wonderful set of buildings housing opera, ballet etc and is an excellent area. The hotel is 50 feet away from the lincoln centre and you cross the Columbus ave to get into the hotel. This is also one stop away from Columbus circle, a stone's throw away from central park etc. There is a Starbucks in the building and a 24 convenience store. I made good use of both. Times square is 15 mins away by walk or couple of mins on subway.

Travel in. I took the subway from JFK and it was super fast and convenient. You may want to leave the heavy baggage at JFK luggage storage facility and that makes it very convenient for commuting. The metro card works at all transit points (air tran at airport and also connecting to subway) and is the way to travel. The subway trains 1,2,3 connect to Lincoln centre while a number of others like A,C connect to Columbus circle. Having subway map on the mobile is the easiest to navigate the city.

Check in. I landed in at around 1 pm and the room was available early. That was helpful and the check in staff were courteous and responsive. I was on the 11th floor.

Room. The rooms in NYC are usually small and the room was on the smaller side. The bed was super comfortable and there was a nice LCD tv. I had to pay for Internet for one day and it was an additional $13. There were couple of closets for storing clothes etc. The hotel went through renovation and remodelling recently and it does show and every thing looks new. The decor of the hotel is a bit on the trendier side, where the colours of the interior furnishings have the zebra stripes. I was not exactly enamoured of this design but was neither put off by it. It did have a fridge with drinks and packaged food and as discussed in the other comments it is better to keep away from these, as they can easily add up to $100. Another surprise is a bouquet of articles from international power adapter, candles, lubricant, vibrators and condoms in the room welcome kit (not complimentary) which seemed to be a bit strange mix. There was a nice combination safe box which was complimentary and I found it very useful. As I was travelling in from abroad, I stored my papers along with money and iPad in here.

Bathroom. If the room was smaller, the bathroom was tinier. However, that being said, the furnishings from the sink to the soap were all top notch. The towels were excellent and so were the bathing accessories. There is no bath tub, but the shower was wonderful. As mentioned by other folks, the design of the bath is perplexing. There is a glass door that only covers half of the bath area and the rest is open. Unless you are careful, water overflows onto the wooden flooring. It was not a big deal for me, but with so much investment made on the hotel, I do not understand the purpose of this design and what is being achieved with this partial glass door.

Decor and roof top lounge. The hotel does have a distinctive look and there is a bar in the reception area. Also the top floor has a roof top pool and a night club area. There were large lines of youngsters waiting to enter on week-end nights, and the hotel guests have priority pass and can walk in. The line to enter some times wraps around almost one block. You can see the beefy bouncers at the separate elevator that goes to the night club. I did not go around into this area as I was bushed, running around the city, but some thing to consider for the younger folks. The elevators have a strange decor too and made strange rattling noise but worked fine.

Service. The turn down service was prompt and I was happy with the service. My needs are simple and hence this might be a factor too in not encountering any surprises. I did not consume any in-house refreshments nor visit the in house restaurant. The Internet speed was excellent and the WI-FI signal strength was super. 

Checkout. The checkout staff offered to hold my bags when I was checking out. The laptop is stored by security and goes to a different storage area, but the normal bags can dropped off for storage to be picked up later. That was very convenient too as I had a late evening flight and had additional places to visit and did not have to lug around my laptop and bag.

Clientele - In general, I did not see too many young children and I guess that goes with the young trendy outlook sported by this hotel. I booked on Hotwire and hence only learned of the hotel name after I paid for the stay. I do not see an issue for a family staying here with young children, but this demographic might be uncommon here.

NYC hotels - I also looked at a number of other hotels and the Trump tower and Mandarin Oriental are right across this area. These are 5 star hotels offering rooms above $500 per night. In general, with the cost of the real estate in NYC being as high as the Manhattan Skyline, most of the hotels do not sport very large common areas etc and pools are rare. Keeping this in mind might probably help and could avoid disappointment. There are so many things to do in NYC and hence planning to lounge near a large pool is not exactly practical while staying here. The empire is rated 4 star by travel sites and I probably agree with that rating. However, as mentioned above, the hotels in NYC will not have the same real estate space as other similarly rated hotels in other cities.

Summary - I was quite satisfied with the empire hotel and it was super convenient for visiting the NYC attractions.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank bramgopal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

After reading some of the reviews prior to our trip, my boyfriend and I did not know what to expect but we thought the hotel was great. We just returned from a weekend trip (Sept 20-Sept 23) and spent 3 nights at the Empire in room 821. We paid a special rate of 280 which I think is reasonably for the hotel, I probably wouldn't have paid more this hotel.

We arrived around noon and were able to check right into the hotel. Upon checking in the lobby was fairly empty and we only had to wait a few minutes to check in. After going to our room, I loved the decor. Of course the room was tiny but that is to be expected while in NYC. Last time I stayed at the Parker Meridian (around the same rate) and I would say our room at the Empire was larger. The bed was comfy and clean, as was the rest of our room. We had a great view and were happy we were placed where we were.

I would say the only downside about our room was the bathroom, namely the shower. It was very strange as we thought it was missing a door but after reading a few reviews we realized that was on purpose. It got water all over the floor and made it a little chilly, but could easily whip it up..just didn't really make sense. One more bad thing was that even though we were on the 8th floor, we could hear the music from the rooftop patio. But again, not a pair of earplugs couldn't fix. Neither of these two cons were a big deal for us.

I would say the best part of this hotel is its location. It is close to times square, close to subways, right above a starbucks and pharmacy and a short walking distance to banks, bars, restaurants, whole foods, and century 21. It was a very convenient location for us and on this point alone we would likely stay here again.

I can't comment on the service as we didn't really need the concierge or front desk for anything. Our room was made up everyday and we received new towels each day, good maid service. There was also a safe in our room so no problems there. Also the hotel provided free wifi which I thought was great as many hotels make you pay for wireless. Lots of pros to the hotel.

Overall, I would recommend this hotel. Lots of pluses and we experienced next to no negatives. Great location and great room!

Room Tip: Room 821 had a great view
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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1  Thank Lauren10122
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Joseph R, Manager at Empire Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 27, 2012

Dear Lauren 10122,

Thank you for the feedback from your most recent stay at The Empire. We are happy you enjoyed our location and the comfort and cleanliness of your room! We encourage all of our guests to share their experiences on Trip Advisor and genuinely appreciate the time you have taken to do so. If you ever need a contact at The Empire or if I can be of further assistance, please reach out to me at jrauer@empirehotelnyc.com. I hope we have an opportunity to welcome you back in the near future.

Regards,

Joseph Rauer
Assistant General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

The definite pro of this hotel is it's location. The proximity (5 minute walk, if that) to Central Park was a huge bonus...and 15 minute walk to Times Square. The location is fantastic.

Now....onto the cons. We were checking in earlier than usual - we had a morning flight into the city. We've done some pretty extensive traveling - my husband is the VP of a flight company. However, checking into the Empire Hotel was not easy. Yes, we were early arriving and I'm ok with storing my luggage and exploring the city, but I've NEVER heard of a hotel that didn't have rooms open prior to 3 pm. (?? makes no sense) Then, when we returned at 3:30 to the hotel, it was overrun by 'models' and fashion designers (fashion week) - we could barely get into the hotel...let alone find someone to retrieve our luggage from the locked room. This took far longer than it should have - keeping in mind we'd been up since 4 am and in flight and then wandering around the city waiting for a call from the hotel to check in (that call never came by the way). After about 25 minutes of bantering back and forth, we finally got to our room.

The room - nice enough. I see a lot of people complaining about the size. Maybe ours was bigger than the norm? I don't know, but a king size bed fit pretty comfortably in there. But the bathroom? Worst design ever. Besides it being tiny, I think whoever put this hotel together thought they were being hip or modern by only using half of a glass door for the shower. Every time you took a shower, you got the entire bathroom soaked. It didn't matter how careful you became, you still got the bathroom soaked. It's a horrible design. Same goes with the vanity - the sink is so low profile that you have to carefully coax the tap on...because if you turn it on like a normal tap, you get soaked as the water just hits the 2" deep sink and sprays everywhere. We were also limited to one half of an outlet because the other one had a broken plug in it.

WIFI. You have to pay for it in this hotel, which makes little sense to me. It's free in the lobby - but not in your room. So any old no-name off the street can wander in, take a seat in the lobby and use the service. But as a paying customer who's staying at the hotel? No. We needed it so after some grumbling under my breath, I pay $13.00 for the day. Now, it's not 24 hours. It's one day - midnight to midnight, so if you hook up at 5:00 pm, you're only getting 7 hours after paying for 24. One thing to keep in mind. Another thing to be mindful of is the wifi ONLY works on the machine you used to sign up and pay. In other words, if you happened to be in the room with 2 laptops and 2 iPhones (like us), your $13.00 a day wifi only works on ONE device. After learning this, I completely freaked out on the front desk and they comped us wifi for our stay, for all devices. Nice enough gesture, but talk about a sham. So be VERY aware of that.

Now...one of the main reasons we booked this hotel was for the rooftop lounge. We've heard its good. Did we see it? Nope. The first 2 days were consumed by this so-called Fashion Week, so we couldn't get up there. I tried one morning but it was closed. Every day it was over run by models. Every evening/night it was over run by drunk party goers. Once Fashion Week ended (Thursday), the Gossip Girl filming started. So now not only do we lack access to the rooftop, we can't get into the lobby. We are told to shush walking in/out of the hotel and were only given a few hours notice of this filming. In addition, the outside of the hotel was now covered by a bunch of giggling fans and security guards.....the whole scene was ridiculous.

So, during a 4 day stay, we never once saw the rooftop lounge, which was the main reason why we booked the place.

It's a shame that the owners of this hotel open that rooftop up to everyone on the street every night of the week. As a guest of the hotel, you have to deal with drunks, line ups, and groups of people everywhere smoking and acting like idiots every night of the week. Plus, you lose one of the main attractions of the hotel. And you're the one paying. I recommend the owners reduce public access to perhaps ONE night a week and allow the guests to enjoy it.

In addition to all of this, the lobby turns into a bar every night, so it is loud down there. There was never really any peace in this hotel except for when we got to our room. And at 3:00 am, the drunks leaving the rooftop woke us every night (we were on the same side as the front entrance to the hotel).

Bottom line: If you like access to all the amenities of the hotel, in addition to a little bit of peace and quiet, this is NOT the hotel for you. It's been VERY disappointing to have paid the amount we did to stay here and not have the rooftop nor the lobby to relax on/in during our stay.

Personally, unless you're a bar brat, I recommend you find another hotel.

Room Tip: Try a different hotel.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Nock4Six
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012

If you are doing anything at Lincoln Center this is the place to stay. For Fashion Week it was the hub of activity. It has a lovely bar area on the mezzanine and is next door to a stunning rooftop bar/pool area that has a forever present waiting line to get in. Only blocks away from a walk in Central Park, Columbus Circle, Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Robert's and Museum of Arts and Design.

Room Tip: small bathrooms and I would ask for a bath with double sinks for some counter space.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank macpwv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2012

At The Empire now on my 5th and final night in NYC. I don't wanna speak too soon but so far all I have is love for this hotel. I was nervous after a few reviews but I'm starting to think some people are just professional complainers. The staff was friendly. I don't know how helpful they were because I never needed them for anything other than an ironing board and towels. But it doesn't take much to please me. As long as the place is clean and the Empire is definitely clean. I only used the hotel for sleep. Pros
*early checkin (1230)
*near the 1 train, 2 stops from TSQ
*3 min walk to subway
*restaurants, shops, snack shops downstairs
*Location is directly across the street from Met. I watched from only 10 ft away as Sarah Jessica Parker, Valentino, Anne Hathaway, and Anna Wintour walked the Red carpet at the Met for Valentino's fall gala!!!
*comfortable beds

Cons
* Not a lot of fast food in The area. If ur looking for a quick, cheap, meal you will have to jump on the subway. Also, the restaurants in The area are really expensive.
*The elevator didn't sound very reliable
*Still don't get the one door on the shower
*no place to store luggage.

I got the hotel through Priceline for $230/ngt. I Thgt that was expensive but its NY. However, I wld hve never paid $500 to stay here. But overall I can't wait to book the Empire for my next trip to NY.

  • Stayed: September 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank mia f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Joseph R, Manager at Empire Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded September 27, 2012

Dear mia f,

Thank you sharing your experience on Trip Advisor. We are so pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay with us and look forward to welcoming you back. If I may be of any assistance for your next visit, do not hesitate to contact me via email at jrauer@empirehotelnyc.com. Thank you for staying at The Empire!

Regards,

Joseph Rauer
Assistant General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2012

Stayed at the Empire Hotel on an over night trip to see a show at the Beacon Theater. Pricelined the room for what I thought was a fair cost and was a little worried after reading some of the reviews on TripAdvisor but as it turns out, I shouldn't have. Everyone we dealt with was very nice, the hotel was clean and lively and our room on the 8th floor, though tight had two queen beds, was nicely appointed and very clean. Each bed had SIX pillows, how can someone complain they need more? The shower was great and the water plenty hot but there is no shower door as others mention so if you're having a party in there you will get water everywhere. The only complaint I have about the room was that there was not a drinking glass to be found anywhere so brushing your teeth or having something from the well stocked mini bar was difficult.
Never stayed in the upper west side before but would certainly use this property again if I needed to. Great location, an easy walk to lots of excitement.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Gary E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Empire Hotel

Address: 44 West 63rd Street, New York City, NY 10023-7029
Phone Number:
Location: United States > New York > New York City > Upper West Side , Manhattan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #342 of 468 Hotels in New York City
Price Range: $193 - $475 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Empire Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 426
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled on our own private corner of West 63rd Street between two legendary New York City landmarks - Lincoln Center and Central Park - this boutique NYC hotel provides luxury accommodations overlooking the Broadway / Columbus Avenue - the gateway to the Upper West Side. Location is essential to the spirit of the Empire Hotel and the interior motif and design is inspired by the earth tones of Central Park and the stately modernism of Lincoln Center. 426 Deluxe guest rooms and suites, WiFi, Pool Deck open seasonally, Ed's Chowder House Restaurant, Rooftop Lounge, Lobby bar. Fun fact, The Empire Hotel was featured in Gossip Girl. Join us for a Chuck Bass cocktail in the Lobby Bar. ... more   less 
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