Having wanted to visit New York since I was little, I really researched hotels when I finally made the trip to the big apple. Although I wasn’t planning on spending a huge amount of time in the hotel, I wanted a great location so I wouldn’t have to rely on taxis and a bit of comfort so I could relax when I wanted.
Eventually, I settled on The Gotham Hotel, a small family-owned boutique hotel in Midtown. I quite liked the idea of opting for a boutique hotel opposed to a chain, thinking I’d get great service due to its size. Little did I know, I’d be left regretting that decision.
Whilst planning my trip to NYC, I quickly learned that location is everything. Despite being a relatively small island and easy to navigate, Manhattan traffic is horrendous. This leaves you with three options; walk, taxi or subway. Although I didn’t mind hailing the odd cab, I wanted to explore the city and make the most of the time I had there, and the best way to do that is by foot. To make matters a bit tricky, I didn’t want to be right in the middle of Times Square but also wanted things around the hotel so I didn’t have to trek if I fancied a snack.
The Gotham’s location couldn’t be better. Nestled away on East 46th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue, you are literally a stone’s throw away from all the amazing shops that go hand in hand with these streets. Walk in a straight line and you’re 8 minutes away from the heart of Times Square. What attracted me the most to the hotel was that it was just off the iconic stretches meaning you could escape the hustle and bustle for an hour or two, but close enough to nip out at the drop of a hat. Close to the Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks Cathedral, and Grand Central Terminal, the hotel makes the perfect base for both shopping and sightseeing. It was literally perfect.
Originally home to The Gotham Book Mart, the Gotham Hotel is set in a super skinny (by NYC hotel standards) building and boasts 67 rooms, all featuring private balconies or terraces. Claiming to be “bold and contemporary, yet luxurious”, it ticked all the boxes for my desire to have a bit of relaxation in between the hustle and bustle of exploring the city.
My room was a Superior King with Terrace which included free Wi-Fi, an en-suite bathroom with rainfall showerhead, climate control and a terrace area with two chairs and table. Whilst the room was comfy and clean, it wasn’t anything special; I could have been in any hotel room in New York within this price range. I really liked that books were used to decorate the hotel rooms, giving a nod to the hotel’s historic past, and I would have liked more emphasis to this to make it unique. The bathroom, on the other hand, was very luxurious with an amazing rainfall shower that I didn’t want to step out of. Combined with the Molton Brown toiletries, I was pretty darn content. One thing I did find weird though was that, although used towels were taken each day, they weren’t replaced with fresh ones. Maybe that was a one off oversight, but it did make it awkward on the last day when I was left with a little hand towel having not realized I didn’t have any big towels.
Towards the back of the building on the 15th floor, I didn’t have much of a view. Although this didn’t bother me too much as I wasn’t planning on sticking around the hotel much, it could be a bit of disappointment to those drawn to the idea of having a terrace. Saying this, there was a construction site to the front of the building and being at the back meant I didn’t hear any noise from the street below so silver linings.
The Customer Service
As I said, I was quite excited to stay in a small, family-operated hotel because I assumed the service would be amazing, I mean, with just 67 rooms, there’s no excuse really is there? Sadly, this is the point that really let me down, to the extent I was I tears my final day in the city thankful I was coming home.
Let’s start from the beginning. Check-in was super slow. Despite having a print-out of my booking (which was done directly with the hotel on their own website), the reception staff couldn’t locate my reservation for about 15 minutes, leaving me feeling a bit stressed. A small thing that I could easily overlook if the rest of the service was good; but it wasn’t.
Throughout my stay the desk staff were always super cheerful and asked how I was etc. and I really enjoyed this friendly and attentive service. This is what I have expected when I booked and I was beginning to think I had found the perfect hotel in New York. Then disaster struck.
On my final night in New York, I headed out to watch the sunset from the Top of the Rock. Having returned to my room for an hour or two to relax, I noted that housekeeping hadn’t been in my room yet. Like most tourists, I had picked up a few souvenirs from NYC, and when unpacking put all my souvenirs from my entire trip around USA and Canada in a bag from the Disney Store so I could then re-pack my suitcase when I got back to the hotel. I left the bag next to the desk in my room, away from the bin, and headed out to watch the sunset.
The bag had gone when I got back to my room 2 hours later and housekeeping had been in my room. Initially, I thought I might have misplaced it somewhere, but after taking everything out of my suitcase, the bag and items inside it were nowhere to be found. I decided to call the desk downstairs and explain the situation, to which they said they would discuss it with housekeeping, look around and give me a call back in an hour. After waiting 2 1/2 hours I’d yet to receive a response so went down to the desk. It was at this point I was told my items could not be located. When I explained that I was checking out the next morning and needed a resolution ASAP I was told to discuss the matter further with the manager first thing in the morning at 10 am. When asked if I would have a resolution then, I was given the answer “hopefully”. Unimpressed and with little confidence with the lack of communication I returned to my room.
The next morning I waited until 10.30am (to give the manager time to get in) and then headed downstairs to speak to them and to check out. Turns out the manager wasn’t due in until 11 am which annoyed me even more because it was just adding to the poor communication. About 30 minutes later I discussed the issue with the manager. Stating that this was out of his control, he then went to find the housekeeping manager. By the point I was getting more and more annoyed; I just wanted a resolution and someone to tell me what was happening. More waiting, more wasting my time. I was finally told that they would have to follow a procedure and that I should have a response by the time my pre-arranged taxi came to take me to the airport this afternoon. Having no other choice, I had to store my suitcase at the hotel for a couple of hours. Frustrated by the situation, I semi-sarcastically asked the desk staff if they could guarantee I’d have luggage to come back to. She laughed. I wasn’t impressed.
Tearfully, I headed off for my last couple of hours in New York. See here’s the thing, I was a young female on my own in a very big city, and very aware that I had limited amount of time to get this situation sorted. I felt overwhelmed, upset, frustrated, annoyed and a whole host of other emotions and a lot of this could have been eased, if not completely avoided, by communicating and dealing with the problem efficiently. I became increasingly aware that I had effectively had things taken from my room. Out of all my solo adventures, this was the first potential crime I had experienced, and, whilst I feel lucky in that I have been so safe in my travels, it was unnerving all the same. Whilst the items taken were only ‘things’, they were memories of a trip that I had spent over a year carefully planning. It wasn’t a great way to end what was the best trip I have ever been on.
Thankfully, I actually forget to put some of my souvenirs from my travels around Northeastern USA and Canada in the bag and still had a few mementos left. With literally a couple of hours left in New York and no resolution provided by the hotel yet, I ran around all of the main shops trying to repurchase things; some items I managed to get, others from other states and countries I had no chance. After making last-minute purchases and trying to relax around Central Park I felt slightly better about my situation and decided to head back a little early to see if a resolution could be agreed on.
Again, I asked for the managers again and waited in reception. It was explained to me that they had checked the electronic log for my room and that had confirmed the time frames I had said, and that the only other person who entered my room was housekeeping. I was also told that housekeeping had seen the bag in my room when they entered my room. On that basis, I was asked for receipts. Of course, my receipts were in the bag, with my purchases. I had paid in cash and couldn’t remember all items in it because as I had explained, items had been collected throughout my trip. Getting anxious again I was offered a small refund, to which I said I was not satisfied with, especially how I had been treated with. Eventually, I agreed on a slightly higher figure on the basis I had no other choice and was very aware that I was leaving in 30 minutes.
It was this point that I explained that being a travel blogger, I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels but never experienced such lack of service. The manager then said that they had seen social media posts made by me stating the situation and said they had seen a post in which I said the staff had laughed at me, They said they didn’t know why I would say something like this. Feeling more upset and annoyed than ever before at the hint I was lying, I explained that I had said this as it had happened to me. I also said that the delay in dealing with the issue had upset me. The response? The hotel doesn’t always have a manager on site, or even someone able to act as an acting manager, and that this was the first problem of this type it had experienced. Now, I know it’s a small hotel, but given that it’s in New York (a 24-hour city), it wouldn’t have been outrageous for someone to think there would always be a senior member of staff on duty. Stores often have a deputy managers that can make decisions in the absence of a manager so the customer still has a good quality of service. I mean, what happens if there’s an emergency? And with that, the issue was left there.
Whilst waiting for my taxi, another guest was also complaining, the subject of which I don’t know. What I do know is that he said he had complained numerous times and had experienced a lack of communication or resolution. The guest was extremely agitated, and giving a quick look over to me, quickly moved the guest into a private room to discuss it further. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but part of me thinks that knowing I was a travel blogging writing a review, and that review wouldn’t be glowing, the manager didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. Interesting to see I wasn’t the only dissatisfied guest though.
After everything, I left wishing I had just booked into a chain, at least then I would have known what I was getting myself in for.
So now you’ve heard my hotel horror story, I want to know what’s the worst thing you’ve experienced in hotels. Let me know in the comments below!