I stayed at the JW Marriott Essex House New York for one night during a trip to New York in September 2021. This stay was part of a Midtown hotel-hopping circuit, and I moved to the St. Regis and Park Hyatt on the following nights.
A luxury hotel Central Park catering to both business and leisure travellers, the Essex House is a landmark of New York City and was classified as a New York historical hotel in 1931, with a rooftop that has become a fixture of the city’s skyline.
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JW Marriott Essex House New York – Booking
Essex House was originally constructed in the 1930s, beginning construction just after Black Tuesday, the day Wall Street crashed, in 1929. The hotel finally opened late in 1931 after many delays due to the financial crash, and its iconic neon sign was hoisted to the top a year after.
In 2012, the Essex House became the JW Marriott Essex House New York, linking up with one of Marriott’s luxury hotel brands.
As a Marriott Bonvoy property, the JW Marriott Essex House falls under Category 7, so free nights can be booked for 50,000–70,000 Bonvoy points per night, depending on whether it’s a off-peak, standard, or peak date.
I caught the hotel on an off-peak night, so I was able to redeem an anniversary Free Night Award from my Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant Card worth up to 50,000 Bonvoy points.
At a valuation of 0.9 cents per point, the cash equivalent of 50,000 Bonvoy points would’ve been $450, and since the going rates were around US$800 during my stay in September 2021, I felt I was getting great value from the Free Night Award.
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JW Marriott Essex House New York – Location
The hotel is in a prime location in Midtown at the southern edge of Central Park.
The entrance is located directly on W 59th Street under a timeless gold marquee, emphasizing the hotel’s historical past. A total of 44 stories of the building tower over the city, with sweeping Central Park views from north-facing rooms.
The Essex House is located near some of New York’s most celebrated attractions.
The popular Central Park Zoo is steps away, directly across from the hotel, while famous Manhattan landmarks such as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, NBC Studios, and Columbus Circle are under a seven-minute drive away.
For business travellers and those visiting the city, it’s around an hour’s journey from New York JFK airport to the hotel by car. If relying on public transportation, you can access the hotel from the airport via the E train for US$2.75, and then transfer to the AirTrain for US$7.75.
New York’s subway is known to be more convenient for travelling than by cab, bus, or car, with 27 different lines and 472 stations within the city. The nearest station from the hotel can be found at the Columbus Circle, only a five-minute walk away.
JW Marriott Essex House New York – Check-in
The foyer is inlaid with marble floors and brass elevator doors, with a large glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling and wide halls, creating a grand entrance.
In attempting to “suite-talk” my way into an upgrade prior to my arrival, I had been told that a Junior Suite would be available.
However, at check-in (which had a very long queue), the agent couldn’t find a Junior Suite and proactively offered me an even higher tier, the Manhattan Suite, which I was absolutely thrilled with.
I was also informed that breakfast would be offered in the ground-floor executive lounge, and that the hotel also had a US$35 per day “destination fee”, but was offset by a US$35 on-property dining credit in exchange (clearly, the hotel hopes that guests either don’t maximize the dining credit, or end up spending more on the property).
I also inquired about late checkout, but was told that it wouldn’t be available if I wanted the upgraded Manhattan Suite, which was fair enough.
JW Marriott Essex House New York – Manhattan Suite
The Manhattan Suite designation covers many different types of suites at the hotel, given the unique building that it’s housed in.
I was assigned Room 2411, south-facing (thus with no Central Park views), with a terrace perched atop one of the many outcroppings of the building.
The living area of the suite is separated from the bedroom, and features a velvet dark blue sectional and two wing chairs with leather accents, centred around a flat-screen TV.
Located directly behind the sectional is a leather framed desk with brass-coloured steel legs and glass finishing over the top. The desk features built-in outlets for charging your devices, which I greatly appreciated.
A separate hallway leads from the living room to the bedroom, with the bathroom in the middle to the left.
The bedroom was fitted with a comfortable king-sized bed with plush bedding, plus two side tables, an ottoman at the foot of the bed, and a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall opposite.
The primary bathroom featured a modern porcelain sink with a black frame underneath, while the rest of the bathroom had more old-school marble flooring and tiling, maintaining some of the hotel’s older remnants.
Additionally, the bathroom offered Aromatherapy bath products with robes and slippers.
No doubt, the outdoor terrace was the highlight of the suite. It was incredible to be high-up above the city in the middle of the action facing Billionaires’ Row, and I loved spending a few moments out here during the daytime and nighttime.
Overall, the interior furnishings of the hotel are slightly dated but still nice.
JW Marriott Essex House – Executive Lounge
The Executive Lounge is situated on the ground floor, and is open daily from 6am to 2pm. There’s a mix of two- and four-person dining tables, plus some high-top communal seating.
Breakfast was served buffet-style, and the quality was on par with most North American hotel breakfasts (which is to say that it wasn’t the best).
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Additionally, the lounge is supposed to have all-day coffee and tea, but none were being served when I stopped by at 2pm. Still, it was quite busy in there despite nothing being served.
While it’s nice to have an Executive Lounge to retreat to in the heart of New York (something that isn’t too commonly found at other hotels in the city), I did find the JW Marriott Essex House’s lounge offering to be a little weak for a hotel of its stature.
JW Marriott Essex House New York – Dining
Since I was busy with work in the evening, I headed to Southgate Bar & Restaurant to use my US$35 dining credit from the US$35 destination fee.
Southgate is located in the hotel and is a casual-upscale bar, restaurant, and lounge. The space has high ceilings, modern decor, and an excellent ambiance for evening cocktails. I found it to be a nice on-property dining venue.
Southgate sources local ingredients for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner and typically serves American cuisine; however, due to the limitations of the pandemic, it was only serving drinks and bar snacks at the time.
I ordered the Buffalo wings and fries, which were tasty enough and certainly very filling.
JW Marriott Essex House New York – Other Facilities
The JW Marriott Essex House is home to the PRIMP Spa, which offers an array of treatments like massages, body scrubs, and facials.
Additionally, the hotel has a small fitness centre located on the third floor, with all-new modern treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines, and free weights.
The hotel offer fitness classes to guests, and also has a sauna and steam room available. Unfortunately, the hotel does not have a pool.
The JW Marriott Essex House is an iconic hotel in the heart of New York City with a central location to many key attractions and undoubtedly stunning views. While the property has been refurbished throughout the years, much of its historical character remains.
I largely enjoyed my stay here, in large part due to the amazing Manhattan Suite upgrade that I wasn’t expecting. Like most New York properties, this one is fairly expensive, though can be worth it on Bonvoy points or using a Free Night Award.
I’d note that this property is a bit older in design and furnishings, and its Executive Lounge more basic, compared to more modern JW Marriott properties around the world that I’ve stayed at.
Still, given the impressive suites and the heritage factor, I’d return in the future if the price and location were right for my needs – ideally to check out one of the rooms with a sweeping Central Park view.