Hotel Review: The Intercontinental Barclay NY

This past Christmas, my sister and I took a quick trip to New York City at the start of the winter holidays and our trip to India (which I will write about a little later). My sister had never been to New York City during the holiday season and I had some expiring IHG free night certificates so the trip seemed like a no brainer. And of course living in Dallas makes finding cheap flights pretty straightforward especially because of the abundance of fare sales by Southwest and Virgin America. Off we go!

InterContinental : New York Barclay
111 East 48th St
New York, NY 10017-1297
IHG Category 9: 60,000 points/night


Note: This is a two part series, check out the Christmas in the City corollary for the full details of my trip (Coming Soon)

Part 1: The Intercontinental Barclay NY
Part 2: Christmas in the City


Getting There:

The 25 minute Uber ride from New York-LaGuardia to the Intercontinental Barclay cost approximately $30. This seemed very reasonable considering that Taxi rates were quoted at around $45, not to mention the long taxi lines at LaGuardia.

The Lobby:

We stepped into the hustle and bustle of a lobby decked out for Christmas festivities. I would rank it as one of the most elegant lobbies I’ve ever seen, and almost on par with the likes of the St. Regis Rome, and Hotel Alfonso XIII. Understated elegance is something I’ve come to appreciate more and more over the years:

The hotel was actually built in 1926 by the Vanderbilt family as the ideal stopover hotel for travelers transiting the then new Grand Central Terminal. Over the years the hotel has played host to celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway. The hotel maintains this historical significance in its ambiance and presence of old telephones throughout the hallways and lobbies:

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Check In:

Bellmen were so busy with luggage carts that they didn’t even bother asking if we needed help with our carryons. It took a while dodging all the people leaving the hotel, but we finally managed to get to the check in desk. Luckily the Ambassador line was empty and we were immediately helped with check in. We were assigned a double queen room on the 12th floor of the hotel. There were no upgrades or perks due to Ambassador status on this award stay.  And as expected our rooms weren’t ready yet given the early hour (it was only 11 am), and so we dropped our luggage and headed off to explore the City.

The Room:

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After we grabbed some food we headed back to the hotel to warm up and rest up for another round of adventures later on. The hotel had called me an hour earlier saying that our rooms were ready and placed our bags back in our room. We were assigned a corner king room, and a traditional double room on the twelfth floor of the hotel. Both rooms felt pretty standard, but were exceptionally clean and modern, indicating a recent renovation. The double bed room was decently sized, but the corner king room was a joke in terms of size: there was barely space to move around.

The bathroom was decently sized and featured Agraria brand toiletries, which are nice enough I suppose. They are really not worth hoarding on your way home. The beds were extremely comfortable however. As you can see my niece really liked the king sized one lol.

Views of the room were fairly average. Nothing iconic could be seen through either of the windows in both the rooms. There was a good street view from my double queen room, but I’ve taken enough of those street long exposures to not care for it anymore.


Breakfast @ Pershing Square

Pershing Square Cafe
90 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017
(Located across from Grand Central Terminal)

The following morning, we headed out of the hotel for breakfast since Ambassador status means pretty much nothing in the Intercontinental hotel chain. We looked around Grand Central for a place, and instead ended up at the rather pricey, Pershing Square restaurant across from the station.

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The ambiance, decor, service, and food were all classy and top notch at the restaurant. Though it was a bit ridiculous that I had to order food even though I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t costing them anything by just sitting in an empty seat at “our” table. Anyway, if you are wondering: they really do have some of the best waffles I have ever tasted. Is it worth the $60 or some odd dollars we spent there? I’m not entirely sure, but my niece certainly enjoyed her pancakes.


Bottom Line: The Intercontinental Barclay Hotel is perhaps one of the classiest hotel establishments in the City. The highlight of the property has to be the lobby, which is fully decked out for the holiday season. The rooms themselves are above average in space, but aren’t anything out of this world. The location is ideal for travelers looking to stay close to Grand Central (the underground walkway entrance is next door), and Rockefeller Center, but which hotel located in Midtown isn’t?  There is no denying that this is a solid hotel as far as Intercontinental hotels go. I personally don’t think it is worth the money given that there aren’t many elite perks (free breakfast, suite upgrades) for IHG elites. I won’t return to this hotel anytime soon given the rates above $300. I’m pretty sure I can find more aspirational properties for 60,000 IHG points or an annual free credit card night.

  • Evan

    “Ambassador status means pretty much nothing in the Intercontinental hotel chain”. I disagree with you. I have had some really great upgrades with Ambassador and of course you get the buy one get one night free certificate. Not getting breakfast or lounge access is annoying but you can recoup the cost of Ambassador in one weekend stay if you are sensible. Anyway this hotel looks much better than the IC Times Square.

    • I should correct that, and say “award” stays. Paid stays have been slightly better, but nothing like what Hyatt and SPG/Marriott offer in my experience. Yes this property is MUCH better than the IC Times Square from what I hear.

    • Teja

      In my experience Evan, “award” stays have been subject to getting no perks in the IC hotel chain. I should correct that. The buy one night get one free perk is nice, but I much rather stay at an SPG/Hyatt/Marriott/Hilton where club lounge access and breakfast are included for top tiers. In my experience, outside of Asia, I haven’t really received any upgrades as Ambassador. YMMV I suppose.