Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Times Square

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The Holiday Inn Express Times Square is conveniently located on the western fringe of Times Square, technically in Hell’s Kitchen, and only a short 5 minute walk from the southern end of the famous Cross Roads of the World, Times Square. The location finds itself home to a large number of mid-scale hotels aimed at the business traveller including Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Four Points by Sheraton, Elements by Westin, Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn.

Unwittingly I had booked this trip to New York to coincide with New York Fashion Week, which whilst not affecting the price of the hotel greatly (Summer in New York is always expensive), the occupancy rates however were noticeably higher, and the clientele that otherwise I would have expected, business travellers and family holiday makers were replaced by a seemingly endless supply of Fashionista’s who no doubt thought the world of themselves.

Unwittingly I had booked this trip to New York to coincide with New York Fashion Week – who thought the world of themselves.

Our Verdict

Check-in: Check-out
Room: Staff:
Bathroom: Value:
Location:    
Dining / Meals: Overall:

Inside Word

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Times Square
Address: 343 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018
Type: Budget Hotel
Chain: Holiday Inn (IHG Group)
Room Number: 2502
View: Empire State Building and South-West over Hudson Yards
What’s Hot  
   Location – only 3 blocks South of Times Square
   Free breakfast
What’s Not  
   Door not shutting properly
   Windows so dirty you can hardly see out of

Check-in

Having just flown into New York from Los Angeles on Qantas flight QF11 I arrived at the hotel at about 6:30pm after a surprisingly quick taxi ride from JFK Airport. The taxi driver dropped me off about 3 doors down from the hotel, rather than stopping right in front of the hotel, which I can only guess was because he didn’t want another fare as I could see people waiting in front of the hotel trying to hail a taxi.

Related: Flight Review: Qantas flight QF11 Sydney to New York in economy

As I made my way into the lobby I was struck at just how small it was. In New York a large number of mid-scale hotels seemingly occupy what can best be described as old apartment buildings converted into hotels. In the case of the Holiday Inn Express Times Square the lobby was tiny, reception was immediately to my left after I entered the hotel through a double set of sliding doors. This caused a bit of a log-jam right at the front door as there was at least 6 other people either waiting for or speaking to the staff behind the desk.

Exterior of the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

I ended up waiting about 10 minutes while the staff attended to other guests and once I was served I was pleasantly welcomed to the hotel, the details of my one night stay confirmed and issued with my room key. I was also given the access code for the free WiFi which was included, however I found the connection to be terribly slow so didn’t get much value out of it as I used my own WiFi Hotspot during the small amount of time I was in the room.

Hotel lobby of the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

Room

As I was expecting the king room which I had booked at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square was exceptionally small, which is somewhat of an expectation for New York hotel rooms, but this was one of the smallest I had ever stayed in.

King room at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square
In room amenities

After entering the room I noticed that the door to the room did not close properly, and to ensure that it was closed I had to manually force the door closed each time I entered or left the room.

In addition to the king size bed, the room also included a small desk, flat screen TV, chest of draws, closet with in-room safe, a small bench for luggage and a single armchair. Unfortunately the desk was a bit of a fail as it was just a little too high to work on for long periods of time and once my 11in MacBook Air was set up there was very little room left on the desk for anything else (apart from the lamp and telephone).

Desk and work area in a king room at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square
Television & storage drawers
Desk and air-conditioning unit

The bed itself was moderately comfortable and whilst I have slept in worse in New York it really was evident that I was staying in the lower end of the Holiday Inn business model. One of the aspects I did appreciate was that each of the pillows on the bed were marked with their level of firmness, which easily allowed me to find a firmer pillow without having to use two soft pillows to get comfortable which is often the case when I am travelling.

Your choice of firm or soft pillows at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

The lack of space is painfully obvious once you realise that they complimentary tea and coffee maker are actually set up on one of the bedside tables, and the wardobe is no wider than about 1meter.

Coffee making equipment on the bedside table
Closet and safe

The view from the room 25th floor was pretty impressive looking to the South-West overlooking the new Hudson Yards development, that being said, the windows could do with a decent clean to make the view that much more enjoyable.

View of Hudson Yards during the day
Looking south from the 25th floor of the Holiday Inn Express Times Square
View of the Empire State Building from the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

Whilst the view to the South-West was enjoyable, the real winner was looking to the left out of the room and gazing in awe of the Empire State Building either day or night.

Empire State Building at night

Bathroom

As you would expect in a small hotel room, there wasn’t exactly that much extra space to be found in the bathroom itself. The designers recognised the limited space available for guests and thoughtfully added a small glass shelf above the toilet which increased the useable space in the bathroom by more than double, which is great if you are someone who like to travel with any of your own toiletries.

Small bathroom
Shower and bath combination

The water pressure in the shower was down right aweful, it was barely more than a drip, but thankfully it was at least hot water coming out. Combined with the lack of water pressure, the combined bath / shower had one of the confusing dial based taps which not matter how many different hotels I stay in I can never seem to get the temperature right inside about 15 minutes.

Complicated tap system
Small basin in the bathroom at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

Location

Undoubtedly one of the hotel’s best features is its location. Situated only 3 blocks South and 1 block West from Times Square, it provides the perfect base for anyone visiting New York who wants to in the heart of the action but also far enough removed that you aren’t run over by the crowds as soon as you step out of your hotel.

The Holiday Inn Times Square is also handily located near 3 major subway lines which gives guests easy access both uptown and downtown via the A, C & E trains and cross town on the 7 train.

Dining & Meals

The hotel offers its guests a free breakfast daily, which can be found at the back of the hotel on the first floor past the bank of elevators. There is limited seating in the designated restaurant area which is accompanied by an additional tall table / seating area located adjacent to the reception desk and across the lobby from the Concierge and lounge area.

You may also like: Hotels in New York that offer a free breakfast

Complimentary breakfast daily at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square
Breakfast station set up at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square
Hot and cold drinks at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square

As you would expect with a free breakfast it offers a basic contintental set up with cerals, bakery items and fresh fruit. Plus you can get filtered coffee, tea and an assortment of cold drinks.

Small breakfast room with chairs
Additional seating in the lobby

Check-out

After my night in the hotel I was planning on making an early departure to make the most of the amazing weather that New York was experiencing in September. I made my way down to reception just after 6am, and while I was waiting for a guest in front of me to be served, and staff member that hadn’t started her shift offered to check me out, and take care of my luggage for me. She proceeded to apologise for her appearance as she had just walked to work and was still in her gym gear. I was not only impressed by her desire to assist a guest given that she hadn’t started her shift, and that she was conscious of the fact that she wasn’t in uniform show true professionalism and class.

Check-out was a breeze and when I asked about leaving my bag until the early afternoon I was told I was able to leave it at the hotel until 10:30pm that night without any charge.

Staff

I had very limited interaction with the staff with the exception of check-in which was disapointing due to the amount of time taken and the hotel seemingly understaffed for such a busy time of the year. That being on said I couldn’t have been happier with my other interaction with the Holiday Inn Express Times Square staff when it came to checking out, and I can easily say that my lingering impression of the hotel and the service I received was greatly enhanced by the send off which I recieved.

Value

There are a number of factors to consider when determining value for this stay. One is the time of year which I visited which was in mid-September and in the middle of New York Fashion Week, two reasons to see the price jump explicitly. For my 1 night stay I paid US$349 plus tax which admittedly is expensive, but given that other hotels in the area were going for US$100 more a night for a very similar room (Hampton Inn) I was happy / willing to pay that amount to be close enough to Times Square without having to sell a kidney to enjoy the location.

Would I stay at the hotel again?

If the price is right I would be happy to. I would not expect to have to pay more than US$200 a night in quieter times of the year, and even less than that in say January or February when New York hotels are at their cheapest.

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