• The Warwick New York Hotel

    June 13, 2011

    If you’re a longtime reader of Carrots ‘N’ Cake, you know that I have a small huge obsession with hotels. For some reason, I just love them. Over the years, I’ve written dozens of reviews, which you can read here: Hotel Reviews. Here’s another one to add to the list!

    About a month ago, I used Priceline to score a sweet deal on a 4-star hotel in Midtown Manhattan. It’s “Name Your Own Price” option allows you to name the price you want to pay for a hotel room. You can select a general location and service level (i.e. 5-star), but the actual hotel is not disclosed until your purchase has gone through. Your credit card is charged immediately, so you can’t cancel. It sounds kind of crazy, but you can save a crapload of money on some pretty awesome hotels.

    When my bid was accepted, I was psyched to learn that Mal and I would be staying at The Warwick New York Hotel for our upcoming trip. The website made it look upscale and our initial impression upon check-in was great.

    The lobby was gorgeous.

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    The location was ideal.

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    And our room looked really nice. 

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    …until we got a closer look at it.

    The furniture was worn, ripped, and stained.

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    The rug was faded and the bed skirt was torn in multiple places.

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    The bed was comfortable and the bathroom was clean, so we didn’t have a terrible stay, but I expected a lot more from The Warwick, especially since it’s considered a 4-star hotel. Do you think we got a crappy room because we booked through Priceline?

    Have you ever used Priceline? If so, how was your experience?

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    { 91 comments… read them below or add one }

    Liz June 13, 2011 at 10:59 am

    My husband and I went to NYC a few years ago. We booked through one of those sites as well (don’t remember if it was orbitz, priceline or which). We also got the Warwick. We were impressed at first, but the room did seem a bit dumpy for NYC. Also, our bathtub didn’t seem to drain very well. After taking showers, we had water up to our ankles in the tub. The maintenance guy had to come and repair it while we were there. Also our view was of a building right next to us or something. Not impressed. I almost think that only certain hotels participate in programs like that. Maybe next time we’ll get a better hotel.

    Reply

    Katie @ cooklaughmove June 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

    We used Priceline once – not name your own price though. Our room and hotel was HORRIBLE!!!! Seriously, like a crime scene or something. Everything was nasty and I was terrified. Never, ever, again!

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    Mac June 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I haven’t used priceline, but I have used hotwire. My boyfriend is really good at getting the nice hotels, apparently the start ratings on hotwire match up with the star ratings of hotels on other sites and between looking at the ratings and the general locations, he is pretty good at knowing (without actually knowing) what hotel we will get! That’s a good quality to have in a bf, right?

    Reply

    Pauline June 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

    My boyfriend is much more the bargain hunter when it comes to travel sites and whenever he books a vacation for us he uses the name your price option. So far we’ve been very lucky! Although, it’s completely scary to hand over credit card info without having a clue as to where you’ll be staying. Nerve wracking, but so far so good.

    Reply

    Erin June 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I work for a major hotel brand and I’m going to let you in on a little secret… Priceline guests tend to get the lower quality rooms one because they aren’t paying our bills and because 90% of the time they are inexperienced travellers who are coming into town to party and cause trouble while they are in town.

    Now while I say lower quality for my brand the would mean by an enterance, elevator, ice/vending. Dirty rooms don’t fly in my company and frankly if clealiness is the issue then go to the Manager on Duty. Don’t bitch out the employee behind the desk just ask nicely to be moved to another room or have the problem corrected if they are sold out. Its not just because I’ve worked in the service industry for years but also because I was raised to be civilized, but the is nothing more that irks me then some one who thinks if they complain enough, yell enough, stomp their foot like a spoiled child enough they will get their way. If there is a problem with your room give the hotel time to fix it. And as for asking for a comp room or compensation in another form well I’m going to break it down for you. You’re getting that room at a freaking STEAL! Basically those rates a booked at bare bottom dollar for what it literally cost to run the lights and clean it after you leave. So judge the compenstion on that or take the apology for the inconvience be enough.

    There is such a thing as human error in this world and most of the people cleaning rooms are cleaning anywhere from 18-30 rooms a day. If they miss something that is small like a hair in the tub give them a freaking break. If there is some wear and tear in the room well hotels just like every other industry is facing a lot of hard hits with this economy. Owners aren’t paying for upgrades every 5 years anymore… its more like every 7-10 years. Managment company have cut man hours to keep prices low for the guests and to make money.

    So in closing… Yeah you’re not getting the primo rooms when you book with priceline or any other site. The best rooms will go to loyal guests who frequent that property or have high status with the company loyalty program. They are paying the bills not the priceline weekend guests. If you want guarentees book directly with the hotel or take the risk and get what you pay for!

    Reply

    Orla June 13, 2011 at 11:42 am

    @Erin: Out of curiosity, which booking sites *would* get you a good room? I rarely book through the hotel’s website as the prices are always much better on expedia.com, hotels.com etc. Do hotels think that everybody who isn’t a loyalty customer or booking direct should get a lesser room? Not judging their practices, I’m just curious if my money would be better spent booking direct with the properties :)

    Reply

    Erin June 13, 2011 at 11:18 am

    PS- You’re taking a huge risk booking an unknown in NYC. Bed bugs are no joke there and I wouldn’t unpack your bags any where but outdoors.

    Reply

    Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food June 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I have used Priceline to rent a car and everything turned out okay!

    I totally agree that a hotel with that type of furniture, damage, etc should not be considered 4 star! Yikes!

    Reply

    Kristy@RunTheLongRoad June 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I don’t think you got a crappy room because of Priceline (I just think the Warwick needs to do some updating!). My husband and I use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” a lot and, overall, have been pretty pleased. Our biggest compliant is that sometimes we get stuck in a super small hotel.

    Reply

    Lee @ in the pink of condition June 13, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I pretty laid back about most things, but I’m super picky about the condition of hotels I stay at, so Priceline makes me nervous. I’d rather spend a little extra money to know what I’m getting.

    Reply

    Lee @ in the pink of condition June 13, 2011 at 11:43 am
    Jordan @ foods sweat and beers June 13, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Whenever I have guests coming to Chapel Hill, we advise them to use Priceline, mostly because there are so very few 4-5 star hotels (or hotels in general) in the area that it’s kind of easy to know where they’ll be staying.

    That being said, I’d be nervous to do it in a big city or something like that without being able to read thousands of reviews. I’m just a hyper-planner like that…

    Reply

    Honey @ Honey, What's Cooking June 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I’ve used priceline and so far I’ve been okay. I really think this has more to do with the hotel than priceline. Hotels in NYC are pretty old and outdated, and with the number of visitors they have, it can be pretty hard to keep up with the hotels. I’m sure they give priceline customers the worst rooms, but if the hotel is in good shape you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference between a good room and an excellent room. I think it has more to do wtih the hotel quality than priceline iteself.

    Reply

    Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife June 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    INteresting…I don’t think I’d ever chance it and use Priceline. But the hotel itself looks really nice!

    Reply

    melissa (fitnessnyc) June 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve never used priceline. Sorry to hear that it was less than 4 star quality, I would have expected more too. Also sad I once again failed to see you while you were in NYC! Have fun in my hometown next weekend,hopefully you’ll get to spend sometime downtown!

    Reply

    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio June 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I have gone on priceline a number of times with the intention of “naming my price” but I always chicken out. I just get so scared of getting stuck with a random flight or crazy hotel. I’m glad y’alls hotel wasn’t too bad!

    Reply

    Wendy June 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I really don’t mean to freak you out but the stains on the first piece of furniture look like bed bug stains to me. I had bed bugs when I lived in Brooklyn, NY and they are still an epidemic in the 5 boroughs. I hope it wasn’t bed bugs but if you found any mysterious bug bites on you, you might want to check around your body, luggage and anything you got in NYC to make sure you didn’t bring any home.

    Reply

    Jenni June 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve used Priceline two times for NYC hotels and both times, the rooms have been teeny tiny. In both hotels, I made a point of seeing other rooms and they were double the size. Luckily, though, we didn’t experience any furniture stains or rips, like you unfortunately did, but it was clear that our rooms were different from the others. Had I paid full price, I would’ve been very disappointed.

    Reply

    Amelia June 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I am obsessed with Priceline, but I’ve definitely had mixed experiences. I think sometimes hotels give you the worst room they have when booked through Priceline, unfortunately.

    Reply

    Allison @ Can't Wait For Breakfast June 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I think it is just NYC — I live here and my boyfriend is in the hotel industry — He has worked in other cities and NYC’s hotels are definitely in need of more repair and fixing up —
    Next time you stay in NYC, I would recommend lifting up the mattress and checking the underside for bed bugs — when I first moved here last year, we found them in a hotel we stayed at :(

    Reply

    Laura June 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I’m with Erin. Hotels tend to give their lesser rooms to people who book online and pay the bargain basement price. And the name your price feature freaks me out! I’m always meticulous about going to tripadivsor.com and first reading the reviews, looking at the pictures and seeing what ppl rated the hotel over there (in general it’s usually a lower level) before booking at the other sites. That being said, I booked a nice hotel in SoHo last year for a super good price on Priceline. The catch though is that I knew (thru trip advisor) that it had been recently renovated, so I could count on the rooms still being nice. I probably wouldn’t stay there again though after they’ve had a year of wear and tear on their rooms. Also, the hotel industry is going thru a major recession. My friend does interior design for hotels & told me that most major hotels are now on a 7 year renovation cycle even though they buy materials that are made to last 3-5 years of wear & tear. When in doubt, blame the economy. :-)

    Reply

    M June 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I used to love going to hotels, but now that bedbugs have become a
    huge and growing problem in last few years(often in the
    nicest of hotels, or furniture or clothing stores, or on planes!Ewww)
    I am a tiny paranoid about getting them.
    A close friend of mine got bedbugs and it has been a NIGHTMARE for them-they had to throw away their beds and other items,and even after
    having pest control come it to treat for them ,they were told bedbugs are extremely difficult to get rid of-so a huge, financial and icky nightmare.
    (of course we in N.America are pretty lucky in our lifestyle compared
    to impoverished countries, so really it is not the end of the world).

    BUT,I now detest hotels! They say look UNDER the mattress when you go into hotels.Unfortunately sometimes they cannot be spotted :(

    Sorry if I grossed anyone out!!

    Reply

    Jen (the little jogger) June 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I used Priceline a few times in Chicago, and we always got pretty lucky with our hotels. It’s nice that you can specify which area of the city you want to stay in, or else you can get in a lot of trouble!

    Reply

    LauraJayne June 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Totally bummer about the Warwick! I stayed in the one in Seattle and adored it! It is an older hotel, so maybe it just needs some renovations!

    I don’t know if it has anything to do with booking through Priceline, although I wonder if you could have asked to see another room or if booking through Priceline would have prevented that?

    Reply

    Amy June 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    It’s hard to tell if you got a crappy room, but it doesn’t look like it. I used to work for a 4-star hotel and our rule of thumb (sadly) was to put 3rd party reservations on the lower floor/smaller rooms =/ Our boss kind of made us because people who book through 3rd parties can’t give a review that hurts the hotels service scores. Plus, they wanted the people who spent the big bucks to come back, they didn’t care about the other people because they figured they were just there on vacation and wouldn’t go back anyway. But wear and tear on furniture is pretty normal, it gets so expensive to fix/replace that hotels won’t do it most the time unless absolutely necessary. The hotel I worked at always had to order something when it had to be replaced because there was no where to store a bunch of extra chairs, mattresses, etc.

    Reply

    Mari @ itsgoodno.blogspot.com June 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Just for my experience of living in Manhattan and having spent time in hotels before we moved here (for interviews etc) finding affordable hotels in this city that are also up to par is nearly impossible. I think it mostly has to do with how expensive it is for a hotel to own/rent those buildings. Anyways, I would recommend the Marriott Courtyard on the Upper East Side for future travels, really nice and clean. Also to re-iterate what has been said, bedbugs are so frequent at hotels here because of the influx of visitors/close quarters, it’s often worth the extra money to stay somewhere clean and with a good reputation… or make friends with someone who has a pull out couch! :)

    Reply

    Heather June 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I’ve always been leery of using Priceline for just that reason. I feel like they are going to save the good rooms for people who pay top dollar and give the crap places to those who book on priceline or hotels.com.

    Reply

    Carey @ Positively Blonde June 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Wow, I would have expected a lot more from the Warwick too! Regardless, it’s in a great, central location!!
    A few years ago, my then boyfriend and I went to South Beach for New Year’s Eve. I let him pick the place (big mistake!) He chose a three star hotel on the beach at an overpriced but fair rate given it was a holiday. I was thrilled thinking we would have views of the water! When we arrived, we found a musty closet sized room with the hardware falling off in the bathroom. And our ocean view ended up being a view of the alley way and the dumpsters. If you stretched dangerously far out of the window, you could see a little ocean.
    It was definitely an experience, but we had a wonderful time anyways :)

    Reply

    Rachel June 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I don’t know about Priceline (although I would definitely suspect that anyone doing the “choose your price” is going to get the worst rooms in the hotel, since the hotel isn’t making much money off them), but I’ve found when I travel for work (at hotels where we get a corporate rate) I’m almost always in the room by the elevator or the housekeeping room. Again, because we’re getting quite a substantial discount, and the hotel would (I suspect) like to save the best rooms for people who are paying full price and need to be impressed.

    Reply

    heather June 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I’ve used Priceline a few times & always felt like I got a good deal on a nicer hotel then I’d normally stay in. Sometimes we don’t get the greatest views, but that doesn’t really bother me. That’s too bad about your stay – sounds like the hotel was on the old side like a lot of places in NYC. Hope you had a great time, anyways!

    Reply

    J June 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Curious, is “bed shirt” A) a typo; B) a Boston way of saying bed skirt; or C) another “glove department” oops? Love the blog, keep up the good work.

    Reply

    lindsey June 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Soo, definitely used Priceline to book for our NYC trip in August and we are staying at the Warwick.. It’s only 2 nights though.. fingers crossed!

    Reply

    Erin June 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    @<a hr@Orla: On the DL… There really isn’t a site that is going to get you a good room. When hotels assign/block rooms every day they start with the loyal guests in their system for the day. Believe it or not there are a ton of people who still travel with those programs so there aren’t a lot of rooms left at the end of the day, particularly on days when the hotel is sold out. We’re going to give the Wholesale (priceline ect.) reservations what we have left. Also if you are traveling with your family you are better off booking only reservations that guarantee a room type. If they don’t you are probably not going to a two bed room when traveling on the weekend. We sell the single/king beds to wholesalers on those days because our other guests will book the two bed rooms at full price.

    I would never book with the Name Your Own Price Option because well there are way too many hotels out there that have 4 star ratings but have gone down the tube since the economy tanked! I need to see the pictures, TripAdvisor.com are the best because they are taken by the travelers. I also trust the bulk of their reviews. I weigh them out based on the majority not the minority. If there are 400 good and only 19 “bad ones” I’d totally stay at the property. There are lot of really inexperienced travelers in this world and low ratings tend to be about trivial things like no free breakfast or the pool being closed for the season. Very rarely are they every sever enough to warrant not giving the hotel a try.

    I really wish that I could write a blog or a book that would explain the ins and outs for the occasional traveler. I however wouldn’t have a job if they tracked me down lol… ef=”#comment-225716″>Orla:

    Reply

    Cristina June 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I am convinced that hotels have special “price line” rooms. My husband and I travel A LOT so i use priceline as much as I can. My husband was in Portland for business so I tagged along for a few days. The company put us up at the nines which was AMAZING. I highly recommend it. For the extra night we were staying I ended up using priceline and got a room at the Westin. The room was OK but it overlooked a garbage dump. I am convinced that no “true” Westin guest would put up with that, so that room has to be reserved for special pricing customers. The worst part is that it ended up being the same price as the nines after we paid taxes. I have really lucked out in other cities like MSP, LAX and ORD, but I think that if a hotel has a crappy room it is reserved for special pricing. My best experience with priceline has been in Munich for Oktoberfest. It seems to be the only way we can get an affordable room in that city for the festival every year.

    Reply

    Katie June 14, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I, too, have a mini obsession with hotels … and I, also, have an obsession with checking for bed bugs EVERYWHERE I go. I even ask my husband to check for bed bugs and send a pic of the mattress when he goes away on business. All these bed bug stories have made crazy!!

    See … a comment about loving hotels turns into a scare fest about bed bugs. I need help!

    Reply

    Ellen June 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I just got back from a weekend in NYC too! We also used priceline and ended up in The W Downtown. It was a wonderful experience, but the location wasn’t that convenient to everything we wanted to do. I’d try it again though. Sorry about your bad room, ours was really outstanding if you don’t mind a dance club in the elevator!

    Reply

    Emily @ NewlyWife June 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Aw, sorry that happened to you! We have used Priceline before, with great results. We do a lot of research first, though. You can usually find forums and things where people post the hotels that Priceline works with in the area you’re looking. It also shows how much people paid per the star ratings. They’ll also mention their experience with the hotel, which is helpful. We got a nice room in Napa for $75!

    Reply

    Allie June 18, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I stayed there a month ago with my boyfriend and felt very similar. We also booked it on Priceline. I don’t think that is why it was crappy though, I think the hotel just needs to be updated. We always use Priceline and we have gotten some really nice deals like a room at the Millennium Hilton with a corner room for $160!

    Reply

    Kelly June 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Thought i’d share, http://www.oyster.com/ it was in my shape magazine this month, i guess they post hotel room pics so they arent all spiffied up for websites and such.

    Reply

    Peter Baldwin August 19, 2011 at 3:03 am

    nice 2 stars hotel but for the price of a 4 stars… worst customer care, I booked my room thru in house reservation, the agents name was Wendy, she would mis-informed me about the rate and was extremely rude.

    I had to complained to her manager, and the excuse was that Wendy just did not want to work on weekends…

    not my fault really, besides the room that I was given, a ”Deluxe” category room, had stains on the walls and carpets. There was a roach in the bathroom as well.

    Reply

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