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The Big Apple is on many families’ lists of dream destinations, and while the fancier hotels get much of the attention, there are family-friendly deals hidden here and there. Luckily, you can find several solid Marriott hotel options in New York City if you have a Marriott up to 35k annual award night at your disposal from cards including:
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
- Other legacy SPG/Marriott cards that are no longer available
If anything, the trouble at Category 5 Marriott properties is digging through the plethora of midrange options that look pretty similar on paper. I’ve sorted through the list for you to help separate the wheat from the chaff.
Things to consider before booking an NYC stay
Planning a trip to New York City with a family can be a complicated endeavor that depends on what part of town is your focus and what attractions are most important for your family to experience. Here are some things to ponder before booking your trip.
Are you traveling peak or off-peak?
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what dates are considered peak or off-peak, so you’ll have to do your research before you book your stay. Consider also that the dates change monthly. Here are some guidelines to use when considering Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates.
Are you staying five nights?
If you have both certificates and points to burn, you may want to save your certificate and book five nights using points because then the fifth night would be free. If you need more points to get you to the necessary amount, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Marriott Bonvoy account. However, on paper Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth more than double a Marriott point so I would only suggest this if you need to top up.
Beware of taxes and fees
The daily hotel tax rate is comprised of several different taxes and totals a whopping 14.75% plus $1.50 each day. Award rates aren’t taxed, which could make a big difference between paying cash and using an award. However, there is an increasing (and nasty) trend for some properties to charge “destination fees,” which are essentially resort fees by another name. These fees will be charged even on award stays. The higher the category, the more likely the hotel charges a destination fee. In fact, the St. Regis New York (which is at the top of the award chart) tacks on a $50 destination fee per day.
Small rooms are the norm
New York City hotel rooms are small, even at many of the luxury hotels. At a Category 5 property, you’ll be lucky to find rooms larger than 250 square feet. Most Category 6 hotels in Manhattan that sleep four people offer two double beds as opposed to two queen beds.
My family’s criteria for booking an NYC hotel
Here are the things that are important to me when booking a stay for my family in the Big Apple.
Rooms that sleep four
My No. 1 criteria for any family trip to NYC is finding rooms that sleep four. Many rooms with two double beds, and even two queen beds, are sometimes only listed for two or three people. I know families that regularly “sneak” their kids into rooms that are not technically rated for four people, but it’s not a practice I personally recommend. The one time you get caught could cost you thousands in last-minute hotel fees or worse: no place to stay. If you’ve got more than two kids, check out these tips for booking hotel rooms for large families.
Location, location, location
With close to 30 Category 5 Marriott properties in Manhattan, the options are much greater than for Category 4 hotels in NYC. You’ll want to pick the location that best appeals to you and your family. If you don’t yet know which NYC attractions to put on your to-do list, read up on these affordable and family-friendly activities.
Here’s where I admit my bias: I’m not a huge fan of the atmosphere in the area between Penn Station (West 34th Street) and Times Square South (West 42nd Street). Many midrange properties are in this area but rank lower on my list. There’s nothing wrong with this neighborhood safety-wise, I just don’t feel it represents the best of what New York City has to offer.
If you want to stay in the Theater District or near Times Square, I suggest north of West 42nd Street. If you want Times Square proper, it’s between 42nd and 47th, but I’m a bigger fan of staying in the West 50s. You’re still close enough to Midtown attractions, but are also within range of Central Park and Columbus Circle. I should note that this neighborhood is called “Hell’s Kitchen,” but don’t let the name scare you. It’s perfectly family-friendly.
When you think “West” or “East” in New York City, the starting point is Fifth Avenue. Most of what you want to see is likely on the West Side. There’s nothing wrong with staying on the East Side, just keep in mind that while walks between numbered street blocks are short, walks between avenues are longer.
Alternatively, you could go for more of a neighborhood vibe in Chelsea, SoHo or even Harlem. Mommy Points often prefers to stay in Tribeca. You’ll have to take the subway to get to most attractions, but you’ll have a more-classic New York experience.
A third option is to stay downtown. Doing so provides proximity to downtown attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and neighborhoods such as Little Italy or Chinatown.
I see a lot of this when I search Marriott.com for New York properties rated for four people:
With that in mind, I’m only recommending properties that show a reasonable amount of bookable dates open in the next six months.
The best NYC Category 5 Marriott hotels for families
In no particular order, here are my top Category 5 Marriott properties for families in NYC:
Rooms at the Residence Inn are a whopping 399 square feet — considerably larger than many other rooms in the city. Residence Inns also feature full kitchens and free breakfast, which could save you a bundle on meals. (Just be sure not to miss at least one real dining experience in Manhattan, like some of the world’s best pizza or these other fun NYC restaurants kids will love.) The location is at the south end of Broadway near the Cortlandt Street subway stop.
The Marriott New York Downtown could be the go-to for Marriott Elites as it’s the only property on the list (in Manhattan) that features a concierge lounge. You could also get lucky and score a room with a view of the Statue of Liberty. The location is convenient, being near the 9/11 Memorial and numerous transit options. The annoying $15/day destination fee at least includes a $15 F&B credit.
The Aloft in Harlem came to my attention via a friend’s recommendation. After one stay it’s become her family’s go-to in New York City. This could be a great choice if your family has crossed off all of the main tourist attractions and is looking for a more authentic experience. It’s a bit of a long subway ride from Times Square and Midtown, but the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side is easily within reach. Rooms on points sleep four and are a decently sized 315 square feet.
I haven’t tried the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, but it may be my go-to for my next trip to the Big Apple. The hotel features an indoor pool, which is unique among Category 5 properties, and some suites have terraces where you can view the Manhattan skyline. The hotel has just gone through a remodel so rooms look bright and fresh. Even the standard rooms are gargantuan for New York, coming in at 400 square feet. The M Lounge offers breakfast and weekday snacks for elite Marriott Bonvoy members as well. With rates over $400 a night when I looked in April, 35,000 Marriott points is a solid value.
I’d love to hear if your family has a favorite Category 5 Marriott property in New York City. If so, please share your experiences. And, if you don’t have a Marriott free night certificate at your disposal, here are some other options for other family-friendly points hotels in NYC.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.