Monday, 23 April 2012

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Hilton Times Square - Not Quite Hidden Enough

There's a couple trains of thought when it comes to fronting your hotel in Times Square. You can either go big, splashing giant video screens and bling all over your building, or you can go small, blending in with your surroundings and garnering yourself a sort of 'secret' vibe. The Hilton Times Square tends towards the latter, which means that you have to actually pay attention, or you're going to walk right past it.

Of course we all know that teenagers don't pay attention. It was a mere half block walk from where the Bolt Bus dropped us off at the Port Authority to the Hilton, but that was enough time for my kids to start worrying about where I was taking them. I could see their eyes darting all over the frontage of the buildings, looking for something that resembled what they're used to in a hotel. Finally, just as their eyes locked on the giant neon McDonalds and they started to wonder if we were going for food first, or if maybe we were planning on spending the night in the restaurant (the practicality of which would not be lost on me), we hung a sharp right and ducked through a revolving door into the lobby of the Hilton Times Square.

Or what was left of it. Now I'd done my homework, and I knew that the lobby for the Hilton Times Square was on the 21st floor, and that the temporary entrance at street level was under construction. I knew that, but I'm a Dad, and it's my job to tease my children whenever possible. I stopped as soon as we got inside the revolving door, put on my shocked face, and said "Oh no, it looks like they've closed!".

When my kids were younger, this would have been cause for great concern in their world. I would have been able to enjoy taking in their worried looks for at least a few seconds before Lori would tell me to stop acting like a preschooler and explain to the kids that everything was fine. That's the way it would have unfolded a few years ago. This time, when I informed my kids that the hotel was closed, the boy whipped out his iPhone, launched the Hotel Tonight app, and informed me that there was plenty of room at the Plaza tonight for only $700 a room. Apparently my days of teasing my kids are coming to an end (although it's also apparent that the boy doesn't read my blog, or he'd know why we can't go back to the Plaza).

I'm not a huge fan of hotels that you have to take two elevators to get in and out of, but I suppose in New York it's fairly common place. 21 floors up, check-in,
then another 14 floors up got us to room 3505, the room from which my kids would later discover they could see Times Square. It was a fairly normal sized room for a Hilton, which means that in New York terms it was quite spacious. We had no trouble spreading out for the one night we were staying there, although there were a few battles for window space to see everything there was to see out on 42nd Street.

Night View from room 3505
My favorite part of the Hilton Times Square? The location. It's located a half block from the heart of Times Square, and right across the street from the Foxwoods Theater where we went to see Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark. Being so close to the action meant that we didn't have to walk far, we didn't have to stray too much to find something to eat, and most importantly, we didn't all have to go shopping. Lori and my daughter could go and do their part to support the New York economy, while the other kids and I could walk back to the hotel room instead of having to wait on a bench somewhere.

My kids favorite part of the room? Well aside from being able to see Times Square, it had to be the internet speed. Granted, it was a wired connection, but here's the speed test we ran shortly after arrival:

That's probably faster than the speed of our internet connection at home, although in all fairness we use a wireless system at home that's connected to just short of a billion separate devices. As Gold Hilton Honors members our internet charges are waived, but if I was going to swallow my objections to paying for the internet, this would be a connection that I'd be pretty happy about.

Day view from room 3505
Another benefit of being Gold at Hilton is an option for free breakfasts. In the (21st floor) lobby there's a breakfast buffet every morning, so we made sure to get up in time to eat before leaving. It's a standard buffet with bacon, sausage, eggs, waffles and the other expected breakfast foods. The food could definitely have been hotter (or at least luke-warmer), but we were very close to the end of the service, so that could be an explanation. In any case, we're always appreciative of being sent on our way with full stomachs.

And it was when we were sent on our way that the Hilton Times Square impressed the most. As a family of five, taxis don't work that well for us, so instead of trying to find a mini-van cab, we usually just ask the concierge of the hotel to arrange something for us. That's what we did as we were leaving the Hilton, and we were told that an SUV would be right around to pick us up. Instead, when we went out, this is what was waiting for us...

Yeah, my kids were fairly impressed with the Hilton Times Square, and to be honest, I was too. It had the perfect location for our stay, super friendly staff, and lightning quick internet. I just wish they'd make it even a little bit harder to find. It takes a lot more to fool my kids these days. Anybody know of a hotel with no signage at all?