We just returned from a trip to New York City. While I have my list of hotels that we like to stay at, this trip we opted to go off our map for a few big reasons and I booked five nights at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. I’ll be writing about our entire stay in another post (and the reasons we picked this hotel) but I wanted to share my feelings about our access to a hotel perk we usually don’t get to experience, the club lounge.
Access to club lounges is usually limited to those who have high level status with a hotel chain, in this case SPG Platinum members, or those who book a club room. Club rooms are typically on a specific floor, or floors, and at this hotel are located on floor 44 or higher. These rooms are more expensive and, at this hotel, seem to average about $30 a day more.
Since I don’t have top level status and I’m too cheap to pay extra for a club room, how’d I manage to get access during our stay? I took advantage of a credit card benefit.
Enjoy Free Access to Sheraton® Club Lounge
An exclusive on-property amenity. The Sheraton® Club lounge offers something extra while traveling for your business. Catch up on work or gather with other guests in a space that provides a higher level of comfort. Visit sheratonclubroom.com for locations and details. Booking requirements apply.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business credit card provides access to club lounges when staying at a Sheraton hotels. It’s important to know what that means. You don’t get access at any Starwood hotel, just at SHERATON hotels. While that does limit its usefulness, I guess it makes sense. Sheraton hotels are the ones most likely to have large convention spaces so they would be the ones where a large number of business travelers stay.
This card is currently offering a sign up bonus of 25,000 Starpoints after using the card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. If you want to sign up, you can use our link, HERE. We get a referral bonus when you use our link and we’d greatly appreciate if you do.
For us, this was the first time we were able to take advantage of this card benefit. While I’ve read that the club access should be automatically linked to your SPG loyalty account, we had to return to the front desk and inquire about it. The front desk agent asked to see the credit card (which should have been unnecessary as you don’t have to use the card to pay for your stay, you just need to have it) and then added club access to our room keys.
Instead of being on a club floor like most hotels, the club lounge at the Sheraton New York is located on the main floor, just off the hotel entrance, with views of 7th Avenue. It’s a large room with a number of tables to seat parties of four. This meant that when the club was at its most crowded, during breakfast, most of the tables were taken either by just two people or larger families all trying to squeeze around a circular table. It’s a large room so even without the lounge using space efficiently, we were always able to get a table.
We stopped in to eat breakfast at the club for several mornings. Sharon was particularly impressed that they actually had hot food for breakfast and not just danishes, yogurt, cereal and bagels/muffins. They offered a large selection that included the typical items mentioned above, but also scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and oatmeal. They also had carafes of coffee and two specialty coffee machines (one Gevalia and one Starbucks) that were painfully slow.
This picture from hotel website shows a typical breakfast from the lounge. I don’t know when it was taken but it could have been from our stay, even including the Nathan’s Hot Dog truck outside on the corner.
The convenience of having a free hot breakfast came in handy when we needed to be at the hotel conference room at 9AM and wouldn’t be finished until 4PM. However, we didn’t take advantage of breakfast every day because they took away the food at 10 AM. If we didn’t need to be up early, we slept in and just ate lunch somewhere around the hotel.
During the day, the lounge left out fruit and granola bars. They also had a fridge stocked with water bottles and sodas. Not a huge variety but better than having to stop at a store.
In the evening, they opened up a cash bar area and served food in the lounge. We always had plans in the evening and spending even more time sitting in the hotel wasn’t why we came to New York.
If the breakfast was a plus, the major disappointment of this lounge was the impracticality of working there. One afternoon I needed to write some articles so I went to the lounge with my computer. The chairs and tables were not conducive to getting work done and there were very few plugs available anywhere near a table.
They did have a small area set aside with computers but there wasn’t any empty space available to use your own laptop. I ended up going over the library bar/lounge area across the lobby and finding a seat near a plug to finish up my work.
We don’t value club lounge access that much because we don’t want to spend any more time in the hotel than we have to. However, this was not a typical trip for us and being able to run downstairs for breakfast and coffee was a great perk. This lounge is designed as a relaxing space more than a work space so the usefulness of it to a road warrior needing to spend hours on a computer is limited.
While having this as a perk of the SPG Business AMEX card is nice, the limited number of Sheratons that we stay in makes it not very useful. Since I didn’t sign up for the card solely BECAUSE of this perk, it was a nice bonus to get. Access to a club lounge is not going to change my opinion that chasing hotel status isn’t worth it for us and I’ll just keep taking advantage of these little added comforts when they’re available.
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