I’ve been lucky enough to have visited New York a handful of times over the years. I have experienced the JW Marriott Essex House, the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel, and some of the lower/mid-level hotels like the Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Midtown Manhattan/Penn Station.
What I have learned, as a somewhat seasoned veteran of New York, is that with the city so well-connected by subway and bus, it almost doesn’t matter where you stay in the city.
That’s because there is so much to do and experience that even if you are in Midtown Manhattan, you are likely travelling a fair bit to see the sights.
In addition to the fact that you are likely to jump on the subway, New York hotel rooms are notoriously small and expensive. Add that to the fact that almost every Marriott Bonvoy hotel in Manhattan is a Category 6 or higher, you are sometimes left feeling a little empty when you first open your hotel room door.
This is why I’ve resolved to find clean, simple, and convenient accommodations in New York, rather than splash out for something fancy.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – Booking
One of the newest Manhattan-based hotels in the Marriott family, the AC Hotel New York Downtown, has come in at a very reasonable Category 4 level, meaning that redemptions are very affordable at 20,000, 25,000, or 30,000 Bonvoy points per night at the off-peak, standard, and peak rates respectively.
(Note that this hotel is not to be confused with the AC Hotel New York Times Square, which is a more centrally located Category 6 property.)
I booked months in advance of our stay and locked in a rate of 175,000 Bonvoy points for a 10-night stay in the summer of 2021.
If you take into consideration that Marriott gives the Fifth Night Free for points redemptions, we really only had to redeem for eight nights, averaging 21,875 points per night, meaning that most of our nights were considered off-peak even in the height of summer in New York.
Cash rates at the hotel start at around US$180 and can rise to US$300, so I’d consider this a great use of your Bonvoy points if you’re headed to New York.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – Location
The hotel is located at 151 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District, at the southern tip of Manhattan and on the banks of the East River.
This means that the location is pretty quiet in terms of the late-night shenanigans that you might find in Times Square or Midtown Manhattan. For what I was looking for, it suited our needs just fine.
The only downside of this location is that it’s a bit of a walk to any of the main subway stations.
The two stations that we made the most use of were Wall Street Station and Fulton Station.
Wall Street Station is a very quick 5-minute walk and is serviced by the 4 and 5 lines. These subway lines run south towards Brooklyn and north paralleling the east side of Central Park. You can easily get to Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central Station, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art using these lines.
The other major station within walking distance of the hotel is Fulton Station. Fulton Station serves as a major connection point to the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, and Z lines, giving you access to pretty much any location you want to get to within the five boroughs. While slightly further away, it’s only a 7-minute walk according to Google.
The Staten Island Ferry Terminal is also a quick 10-minute walk from the hotel, so if you want a free way to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance, a quick walk from your hotel affords you that luxury.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – Check-in
AC Hotels are not known for their opulence, but you also shouldn’t expect Best Western standards – it’s a mid-tier hotel chain based on simplicity and cleanliness. You’re not going to be awed by the lobby, but will find it to be efficient and effective.
Check-in for us was a very quick and standard affair, with the check-in agent providing us details about our room and the benefits of my Titanium status.
One thing to note is that when we stayed, housekeeping was by request only. I suspect that this is COVID-related or perhaps due to a shortage of housekeeping staff, but every housekeeping request that we made was fulfilled the next day.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – King River View Room
The AC Hotel keeps its room types simple. You either have a king bed or two queen beds in a room – other than that, the only difference is whether you have a river view or not.
Fortunately, we were able to get a King River View Room as part of our stay. As I expected, the room was small, clean, and completely functional.
A few notes about the room. The AC at the AC (i.e., the air conditioning) works incredibly well and welcomed us home after many hot and humid days in the city.
There is also a mini-fridge in the room that does a great job of keeping all those free drinks from the AC Store cool for when you return.
On the negative side, the rain shower you see in the pictures above did not work, but the shower head worked well with plenty of pressure, so we never bothered to get maintenance to service the rain shower.
The other somewhat quirky thing about the room is that the floors were somewhat waxy and sticky. This is not to say they were dirty, but rather, whatever solvents they used to clean the floors left a residue that I didn’t find especially pleasing.
The view from our room was quite nice, looking towards the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
One last thing to watch out for: the windows in the hotel are not mirrored and the hotel is surrounded by office towers, meaning that you could inadvertently brighten or sadden someone’s day. I’m willing to bet I managed to add a couple of hours to someone’s therapy bill.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – AC Store
As a Titanium Member, I was given the choice of my welcome amenity between either a bonus of 500 Bonvoy points or a US$10/day/guest (maximum of two guests) credit for use in the AC Store.
In most Marriott hotels, the food and beverage credit is usually US$10 per stay, whereas with AC, it’s $10/day/guest (maximum of two guests). So for my wife and me, it meant a US$20 food and beverage credit per day, which isn’t a bad benefit by any means.
Most days, that credit was used to purchase four La Croix soda waters (US$3 each) and two Gatorades (US$4 each), though there were certainly more options in the well-stocked but overpriced store.
AC Hotel New York Downtown – Other Facilities
You may see on the hotel’s website a mention of a lounge. Unfortunately, this lounge is not your standard lounge for status members, but rather a sitting area on the 2nd floor.
It’s actually quite nice and would be a perfect place to facilitate some discussion amongst friends. Because it’s a bit out of the way, it’s not well-used and affords some excellent privacy.
In addition to a swanky seating area, you are also welcome to use the microwave at the bar to reheat your day-old pizza. I recommend Village Square Pizza and their Pepperoni Square with Hot Honey sauce – insane!
To work off all that pizza you’ve been indulging in, you can head down to the well-equipped gym the hotel boasts. Full of new LifeCycle equipment and free weights, it’s a perfectly adequate gym and should meet all your needs.
Having stayed at a bunch of New York Marriott properties, I can honestly say that my stay at the AC Hotel in Downtown New York was very comfortable and served us very well. The area was clean, safe, and well-connected if you don’t mind a 5- to 7-minute walk from the hotel to catch a subway ride.
The service was excellent, with one of the concierge staff members going out of his way to find us a couple of umbrellas so we could go grab some food as Hurricane Henri was threatening to hit New York City.
All in all, with such an affordable redemption rate at this Category 4 property, I would highly recommend the hotel to others looking for a low-cost and consistent stay in New York.