The London NYC and a Weekend in Gotham

Introduction:

Back in May of 2014, I had to attend the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New York to present our research poster. The event was being held at the Hilton Midtown in NYC just a block down from Times Square. Though I started the search for a hotel room early I couldn’t find any hotel rooms close by for under $400. Unfortunately the conference rate rooms were all taken at the Hilton, and there were no rooms to be had under $500! After waiting for many days to see if the rates would drop, I finally saw a half decent refundable rate of $250 at the London NYC using American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the program, it offers AMEX Platinum Card Holders free breakfast (for 2), late checkout, a room upgrade, and a $100 credit towards something (dining in this case) at the hotel usually. This essentially brought down the rate to less than 150, something I was ready to pay given the circumstances.

Due to storms in the New York area, I spent most of my day in transit, at the impressively crowded AMEX Centurion Lounge DFW (later post). Since I was AA Executive Platinum back then, they somehow found me a seat on a flight out. It wasn’t the greatest seat (back of the plane, middle seat), but something out, which I appreciated.

Dinner at Max Brenner @ Union Square

I arrived into Newark at around 10pm, and was promptly picked up by Sasidhar (the other blog contributor) and his wife to head over to Manhattan. It was fairly late already, but restaurants in New York are open until almost midnight. We chose Max Brenner because it had been a while we all have a bit of a sweet tooth (that’s understating it).

We had a reservation at Union Square location so the wait wasn’t too bad at all. If you don’t have a reservation, good luck finding a seat because the place was packed. The menu for the NYC restaurant can be found here (main menu) and here (desserts menu).

For the main course we split a veggie burger, knowing that a big part of the meal would be the desserts.

For dessert we started off with “Classic European Fondue” (milk chocolate mousse, marshmallow fluff, graham crackers, caramelized bananas served with a flask of warm toffee sauce,  and fondue). I always enjoy making smores though it can be a rather tedious process.

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We also ordered the “Max’s Famous Chocolate Mess Party” which included warm chocolate mud cake in milk chocolate ganache, piles of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chunks and toffee sauce along with strawberries, bananas and Choco-pops.

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It was an altogether awesome experience as usual, and I would highly recommend everyone visit the place next time you are in NYC, San Francisco, or Philly.

The Hotel:

The London NYC is an all suite hotel located just a block from Times Square and is across from the Hilton Midtown Hotel. Central Park and most major attractions in the city are within walking distance, and so location really can’t be better. The front facade of the hotel is quite unremarkable and so I didn’t really bother taking a picture, but just in case you want to see it:

Entrance to the London NYC (IMAGE PROVIDED BY HOTEL)

Check In:

There was no line at check in since it was already well past midnight when we arrived. Luckily the receptionist was still at the desk ready to hand us the keys to our room. I don’t recall how much we paid for parking but it was somewhere in the $60 range. At this point all I wanted to do was go sleep and so I didn’t inquire as to whether we received some sort of upgrade or not.

The Lobby at the London NYC (IMAGE PROVIDED BY HOTEL)

The Room:

Our rooms were located somewhere on the 44th floor of the hotel, and were both suites (it’s an all suite hotel) which were both old fashioned and modern at the same time. I would say these were the largest rooms by far that I had seen in a NYC hotel.

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The living room featured a credenza at the entrance which contained a fully stocked and overpriced mini bar as well as some storage to keep I don’t know what.

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By the window there was this beautiful wooden desk with a reading lamp attached to it, which was ideal for working. This was definitely one of the nicest hotel desks I had seen anywhere because it was extra wide and easy to have multiple items laid out on.

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Both the rooms featured a 40 inch flat screen tv and a rocking chair, which was oddly situated right under the TV.

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The entrance to the bathroom featured a shockingly big dressing room, which is useful if you live in the hotel I suppose. However this does emphasize the fact that this hotel definitely featured some of the largest rooms overall, in NYC.

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The bathroom featured some nice colors, a massive stand in shower, a single vanity sink, and CLEAR branded toiletries, which I don’t really care to keep. The water temperature and pressure in the shower were excellent as expected.

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The bedroom featured a large king size bed and some chairs by the window. The bed was extremely comfortable and had easily accessible wall outlets right next to it for all those cell phones that need charging.

We quickly finished up taking the pictures of the hotel room and hit the sack.

The following morning I dragged myself out of bed in order to review the breakfast, which is included as part of the Fine Hotels and Resorts package. I looked out the window and noticed that the view from the room was nothing special. It just looked out over a nearby street, and there was very little glimpse of Central Park, which was just around the corner.

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Breakfast @ Gordon Ramsey’s the Maze

We expected breakfast at one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants would be a sort of like a fine dining brunch experience, but it was nothing like that. There was a fairly long line at the door to the restaurant to get seated, though it did move fairly quickly.

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As part of the breakfast you are given the continental buffet at the restaurant, which featured the following:

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A rather depleted yogurt container and some fresh fruits, which weren’t fresh at all. Overall none of the items were being replaced in the buffet either and it looked like they had a quota on how much they could set up.

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The bakery section of the buffet was equally disappointing and was pretty much what you find at a Holiday Inn or Extended Stay Hotel buffet in terms of quality and spread.

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The A La Carte Menu really didn’t have anything special or interesting either. And it was especially not worth paying extra for. We ended up just having some orange juice and walking out to the disappointment of the waiter. I felt a little bad for taking up an entire booth just to drink orange juice, but the crowd had subsided by this time.

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The seating in the restaurant however was one positive. Most of it was in the booth style with plenty of room between tables to maneuver around once you got up.

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Breakfast Summary:  The breakfast was nothing to write home about and certainly had nothing to do with the word “special.”. And if I am seeing this correctly, the Maze has either moved from the London NYC or closed permanently. 

Bottom Line:  The London NYC has some really nice rooms at decent rates considering what you are getting for around $250/night. When booked with Fine Hotels and Resorts, the package includes breakfast and a $100 dining credit to be used anywhere on the property. I personally would prefer to stay at one of the chain hotels to load up on my points balance, and pay a lower price. However given that you are getting a large suite at the price of many hotel rooms, the London NYC is a solid choice for when the chain hotels are too expensive are too inconvenient. I would not hesitate to return if the price were right.

American Society of Hypertension Poster Session @ the Hilton Midtown NYC

We spent most of the day after breakfast wandering the streets of NY and walking through Central Park. At around 3pm, I headed over to the Hilton Midtown for the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) Conference.

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The exhibit hall had hundreds of posters displayed on boards across the hall. It took a while to find the spot to put up our poster, but I eventually found the place.

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After putting up the poster, I walked around the hall conversing with physicians and researchers who had their posters up. Most were medical students or residents at university hospitals.

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The research varied from being directly about high blood pressure (hypertension) to being about sleep patterns and obesity. It was interesting to learn about all the upcoming medical research that was happening across the country. Our research (in case you are wondering) was about how to detect falsely elevated blood pressure in elderly patients who often times respond  badly to blood pressure medication because in reality they don’t have the condition. If you want a more basic understanding I recommend first reading this article on wikipedia, and later checking out our abstract, which can be found here.

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Anyway I just spent a couple of hours wandering around the exhibit hall learning about new research and medications. I was wearing Google Glass so I got quite a few questions regarding how that works.

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The various pharmaceutical companies had some booths set up with food and drink. It seemed like most of the people wanting a bite to eat revolved around this pizza offering which was apparently from Lombardi’s (a supposedly famous NYC pizza place). I didn’t get a chance to try anything because I was constantly pounded with questions about my Google Glass. I get it was healthier for me anyway!

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After I went around for a bit, I stood by my poster and answered any questions viewers may have had regarding our research. And after having spent a couple of hours, I decided to just call it a day and head off to visit my aunt and uncle in New Jersey. This pretty much capped my weekend in the City.