Review: The Carlton Hotel in New York City

I stumbled upon The Carlton Hotel by accident. I spent a week in New York for business, and my company had a rate at the Sheraton Tribeca for $299/night. Despite Starwood definitely being my favorite chain, there was a Marriott promotion going on so I needed some Marriott nights. I looked around, and there was only one Marriott property in Manhattan for the dates I needed for under $299. It was the Carlton Hotel, part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. Oddly enough, even the Fairfield Inns were over $300 that week in the city, but the Carlton was only $279 so I booked it.

As I mentioned, The Carlton Hotel is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, a series of boutique hotels that participate in Marriott Rewards, letting members earn and redeem. But as Autograph Collection members, they are not Marriott properties. They are still supposed to honor Platinum benefits and recognize Marriott Rewards members, but there's typically no lounge or anything like that. It's hard to categorize them beyond that. The Algonquin, an old, classic, New York hotel is part of the Autograph Collection. The Cosmopolitan, the swankiest new hotel in Vegas, is also part of the Autograph Collection. The properties vary widely, and you can see the official list here.

The outside of the hotel is quite unassuming, You could walk past it and miss it, but when you come in through the doors, you enter a rather grand lobby. Especially by New York standards, the lobby is quite spacious. The check-in area is right in front of you, and the hotel's restaurants are to your right.

As this is an Autograph Collection hotel, much like the Hotel Icon that I visited in Houston, there is no club lounge for Marriott Elites. So while there's no lounge for breakfast, I received breakfast vouchers for every day of my stay. The breakfast vouchers could either be used for a free continental breakfast or as a credit toward some other breakfast items. I had a really good rate here of only $279, and I think part of the reason I had such a low rate was because I booked a room with a double bed. I was hoping to get "upgraded" to a room with a queen or king bed, but that didn't happen.

I took the elevators up to my floor, and I walked down the hallway to my room. The hallways were definitely very old school, and they somewhat reminded me of a haunted house. Even the staircase down to the lower floors was an older marble staircase, rather than something more modern.

Inside the room I found my small double bed with a couple nightstands on either side. I jumped on the bed to test it out, and I can report that even a small double bed was still comfy and worthy of Marriott's standards :-). The room was SMALL. Most rooms in New York City are small, and I would classify this room as slightly smaller than your average small New York room, if that makes sense. Picture the normal New York hotel room that is barely bigger than the king size bed. Then turn the king size bed into a double bed, but keep the same walking margin around each side of it.

The bathroom was fine, but it had a very old look to it. I mean old both in the Mad Men kind of way as well as old in the "you should renovate this" kind of way. While the shower drain wasn't dirty, it was sorta old and gross looking (but the Four Points in Chelsea still takes the cake for nastiest drain). Additionally, the shower itself was quite small. Not too much room to move around in there. Also, there was a floating cabinet above the toilet, and I don't know... maybe I'm retarded... but somehow I managed to bang my head on it twice! Thus, my room was quite simple and quite small, but the bed was comfy. When I'm traveling for business in New York, I hardly spend any time in my room except to sleep anyways.

I went down to the gym, and I was quite disappointed. It's really small, and twice when I went down, all the treadmills were in use. There are only two. On the bright side, there is a decent selection of free weights.

As a Marriott Rewards Platinum member, I'm entitled to free breakfast at Marriott hotels in their club lounges. As this property didn't have a club lounge, they instead gave me vouchers for continental breakfast in their restaurant. I was also told that instead of getting the continental breakfast, I could instead use the voucher as a $14 credit for something else. I got eggs benedict instead.

I also ordered room service one night, and the hotel did a decent job on my caesar salad and french onion soup. Haha funny ancedote, though. The caesar salad came with a big nasty anchovie on the top. I didn't want that crap. But I also didn't want to smell it in the trash can or on the side of my plate. I flushed it down the toilet hahahaha.

Yawn. Okay. Here's the deal. This is a really boring property. There's nothing awful about it, but there's nothing interesting or good. It's also old and in need of some renovation. Some people may find that old, classic New York look charming, but I find it annoying. I really can see no compelling reason to ever stay here again, with the exception of the reason I ever stayed here in the first place: the rate happened to be cheap, and I needed some Marriott Rewards nights. Yawn.


David July 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

This prop and the Autograph Collection was featured on AMC's The Pitch, which is a reality show that was paired with last season's Madmen. The Pitch featured 2 random ad agencies competing for a client's business by delivering a pitch...on one week's episode, the client was Autograph.

It was an interesting show...and Autograph seemed to be so random. However, it appears to be a good option for Marriott people.

Kevin, as one of the few upgrd/BA bloggers to regularly write about Marriott, could you do a post on MR? Are there any decent values? Or maybe a post on the nights and flight miles award, which seems interesting, but 200-300K MR pts seems like a lot, or is it...of course, no prob if you're busy, etc.

Kevin July 16, 2012 at 07:28 am

@David, Don't worry - I'll keep the Marriott posts coming :-). I'm a huge fan of Marriott, despite all the naysayers out there! Here's a rather interesting post from the past:

BR July 18, 2012 at 02:05 am

Come on, man! Anchovies are delicious!

Kevin July 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm

@BR, Not in my salad!

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