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My hassle-free stay @W New York Union Square

Last month I stayed at the W New York Union Square. I am happy to report that no young republicans harassed or assaulted me. I didn’t even notice any condoms in my room – used or new.

Lindsay Lohan news stories this week showing the outside of a familiar looking hotel triggered my recall that I had not yet written about the W New York Union Square where I stayed two nights, FOR FREE, courtesy of SPG Amex Stars gig to attend New York Fashion Week.

The W New York Union Square hotel is one I enjoyed for a nice room in a century old building with a great location for a New York tourist.

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W New York Union Square seen from Union Square.

The hotel address is 201 Park Avenue South and the cross-street is East 17th Street.

Obviously I was mistaken when I stated after my trip to New York the week before that I walked a half-marathon around Manhattan and never crossed east of 5th Avenue to the E Streets of Manhattan. I had walked by the W Union Square a week earlier when I snapped this photo of the hotel from Union Square.

W Union Square building is a 1911 Beaux Arts design remodeled in 2000. I loved the building’s classic look. I came across this Jan 2000 description of the W Hotel building conversion project.

A Landmark Treasure is Reborn Anew, W-Style

The historic property’s design will reflect the past while creating a showcase for W Hotels’ signature contemporary style. The 1911 Guardian Life building was designed by D’oench and Yost Architects in the Beaux-Arts style, a magnificent granite and limestone structure boasting traditional European architecture. A grand four-story mansard roof and other features recall the building’s French influence, from both the Second Empire and updated styles that appeared in Paris in the 1890s. The building will be transformed into a light-filled conservatory offering panoramic views of the park and surrounding neighborhood, employing a design concept that ties to the existing building with an eclectic mix of fashion-inspired details and the decorative arts that have made W Hotels famous.

The Related Companies, LP Converting New York’s Historic Guardian Life Building to a W Hotel

The document fascinates me in that I read the vision of the W Union Square design and matched photos from my trip last month to this 13-year-old design description for the hotel.

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Like most W Hotels the elevator and hallways are dimly lit. The elevators require a key card and in the dark it can be difficult for weaker eyes to see your way to the key card slot quickly.

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This is my first photograph of Room 1012, my 10th floor room. The room has three large windows. The ceiling height is 9 or 10 feet.

“The building will be transformed into a light-filled conservatory offering panoramic views of the park and surrounding neighborhood.â€

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Room view of the surrounding neighborhood looking east.

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Room view from window on other wall. The clock tower at left had a beautiful blue color at night. I had plenty of time to stare at the cute water towers I associate as a unique Manhattan feature after my two trips in September.

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W New York Union Square Corner Room 1012.

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Desk space and full length mirror.

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Basic bathroom where when sitting on the toilet in this room had me thinking several times how the door barely squeezes by the countertop. It is a tight fit that works.

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Clean lines are typical of W bathrooms.

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Backup Plan toilet paper bag is the kind of whimsy to be expected at W Hotels.

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This sweets display was on the desk as part of the SPG Amex Stars treatment for New York Fashion Week. I ate a few white chocolate-filled raspberries and the sweets looked delicious, but I needed real food.

I went looking for Indian food in the Village for a real meal.

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Empire State Building seen from Washington Square

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W New York Union Square lobby ramp to reception.

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Ceiling art above reception looking up to second floor.

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W New York Union Square lobby seating. W Hotels call their lobbies living rooms. This living room view is looking to Park Avenue South entrance. Reception is right, around the corner. The windows to left face Park Avenue South.

Design elements will include a luminous, warm living room filled with memorable details, gardens and comfortable lounge areas. The greenery of Union Square will be evident throughout, recalling the fashionable parks and gardens of the early 20th century.

The Related Companies, LP Converting New York’s Historic Guardian Life Building to a W Hotel

The mention of greenery in the living room is interesting.

a tree with butterflies on it

I tried several times to get a photo of the ivy covering design between windows, but the bright backlight washed out the image of butterflies on ivy.

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W New York Union Square living room cuddly space.

a restaurant with tables and chairs

The restaurant Olives is a not an all-day dining space. The place was ususally doing heavy business with diners. I was surprised to snap this shot of three empty tables as I was leaving the hotel to come back to California.

Olives – Meals served daily:

  • Breakfast: Monday – Friday 7:00 AM – 10:30 AM; Saturday – Sunday 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
  • Brunch: 9:30 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Lunch: Monday – Friday 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM
  • Dinner: Monday – Friday 6:00 PM – 10:30 PM; Friday – Saturday 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM; Sunday 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

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Todd English’s Olives restaurant at W Union Square.

The property will include a 3,000-square-foot destination bar; a 3,100-square- foot signature restaurant; a double-height lobby lounge area; more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space on the second and mezzanine floors, including the Grand Ballroom and a fitness center. The Hotel will be identified with a new marquee on Park Avenue, creating an elegant entrance compatible with the original structure. An entrance at the corner of Park Avenue South and 17th Street provides separate access to the restaurant, as well as a dedicated bar entrance at 17th Street.

The bar space Lilium is open 6pm to 4am six days a week (closed Sunday). I missed all that action, although I did see a film crew shooting on the first afternoon of my stay.

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Lilium at W New York Union Square

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W New York Union Square is 1911 Beaux-Arts building of granite and limestone.

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I happened to be at Union Square on two consecutive Fridays when there is the large Farmers Market across the street from the W Hotel.

Loyalty Traveler Disclosure: My 2-night stay at the W New York Union Square Sep 12-14, 2012 was a free hotel room as part of the American Express New York Fashion Week Rachel Zoe runway event.  My flight to New York was free and the Rachel Zoe runway show and pre-show party was complimentary.

W New York Union Square room rate: $551.65 base rate + $84.87 taxes and fees for a nightly room rate of $636.52. Unlikely I will stay there again unless I get some other gig for a free room or a windfall in Starpoints.

W New York Union Square is a category 6 hotel at 20,000 points per night or 25,000 points in peak season.


Special Loyalty Traveler extra feature for other hotel hobo travelers going to NYC.

Taking Public Transportation from JFK to W New York Union Square

This was my second trip to New York in one week courtesy of SPG American Express for my 2012 SPG Amex Stars gig and the New York Fashion Week event.

I take public transportation in almost any city I visit.

Riding the Air Train from JFK terminals to Howard Beach went even more quickly this second trip since I already had a MetroCard I purchased the week before.

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Air Train from JFK to Howard Beach is $5.00 and takes about 10 minutes. Connecting to the subway for a trip anywhere in Manhattan is $2.25.

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Howard Beach Metro Station for the A train subway to Manhattan.

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Subway train change was required from the A line to the L line at Broadway Junction about 10 stops past Howard Beach. The L train stops at 14th Street and Union Square about 100 yards from the W Union Square Hotel.

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This slab of concrete in the Union Square station caught my eye. I did not see any kind of plaque describing its significance.

The ride from the airport to the W New York Union Square hotel was about 90 minutes from plane landing to hotel room sitting.



Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.


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