Checking in: Westin New York Grand Central

Location, location, location: New York has a head-wrecking choice of hotels but if you want to stay in an enviable location, the newly opened Westin New York Grand Central gets my vote. Located slap bang in Midtown Manhattan, the hotel is close to its namesake Grand Central Station and pretty much all the touristy ‘must-dos’ like the fluorescent horror that is Times Square and it’s a great base to explore the city’s busy streets.

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Rooms: The Hotel Formerly Known As The Helmsley Hotel is now a member of the Starwood portfolio and it’s been revamped and given a makeover to match its glamorous sister properties. Rooms are stylish, with understated but classic decor and boast everything you’d expect from a Starwood – say hello to a large bed that’s ridiculously comfy, a desk, widescreen TV, mini bar full of tempting goodies and a spacious bathroom with that all important shower you could spend an hour in. Looking good so far….

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All I want is a room with a view… My number one thing about this hotel was the view. Rooms in this hotel overlook the Chrysler building, which was instantly recognisable from a million TV shows and films as being in New York City, it made my heart flutter. Guests get fantastic views across NYC’s twinkling cityscape at night and, like a (jetlagged) 5 year old waiting for Santa, I slept with the curtains open because the city’s bright lights had me enthralled.

The people…From what I could tell, the hotel is frequented by both business travellers and holidaymakers of all ages so it’s a nice mix. Meanwhile, any of the staff I spoke to were friendly, efficient and – unbelievably – one knew people from my hometown, despite being, a native New Yorker. Small world, indeed.

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Breakfast…You can’t beat a good hotel breakfast, can you? Along with a power shower and a comfy bed, the breakfast option is a hotel deal breaker for me. Thankfully the Westin didn’t let me down. The LCL restaurant is more like a café than your typical bland and functional hotel breakfast room. There are lots of healthy options to get your day off to a good start, including fruit juices, smoothies and omelettes. I ordered the huge blueberry and banana pancakes and a side of fruit salad. Allow me to drool at the memory of those pancakes for a second.

Gym: I’m far from a gym bunny (ok, ok, I’ve never been to one – I am disgusting) but even I was impressed by the Westin’s fitness facilities. This hotel has one of the biggest gyms I’ve seen in a city centre hotel. All importantly, they have a rent-your-gym-gear system for a measly $5 and you get to keep the sports bra. Now you’ve no excuse not to hit the treadmill when you’re in NYC.

Wi-Fi…the hotel offers free wifi in the sizable lobby but the bad news is it costs $9.95 to get hooked up in your room for 24 hours. I know it’s not much but if you’re staying 3-4 nights it adds up and I think business hotels should have free wi-fi in general. I ended up paying the fee because running up and down from the 22nd floor just to get online for free after a long flight was not gonna happen. But once I was connected, the service was fast and I had no problems.

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It’s the little things…after the views and the prime location, my favourite thing about the hotel is the Starbucks machine in your room. Starbucks on tap? Nice.

The all-important question – would I stay here again? Definitely!

Ker-ching!  A stay at The Westin New York Grand Central starts from $266 per double room per night.  To book, visit www.westin.com/newyorkgrandcentral.

If you need more inspiration about things to see and do in New York City, go to www.nycgo.com

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