Review: InterContinental New York Barclay an IHG Hotel

The InterContinental New York Barclay, an IHG hotel, is one of the city’s most historic and iconic properties, It dates back a century to when the Vanderbilts built this hospitality palace to host the city’s top guests. This IHG One Rewards landmark is perhaps the most sensational in its New York City portfolio.

Sometimes, you can redeem points for a bargain, but at others, the rates (whether in cash or points) can blossom higher than imagined. Either way, the experience here is tops for those searching for elegance, history and some remodeled charm.

As with most places in the city, public transportation is easy to reach, but walking around the Big Apple is a cinch. The hotel is a 15- to 20-minute walk from Times Square, the Empire State Building and the city’s top attractions.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

While the hotel’s facade shows its history, a recent remodel gives the property a more contemporary flair. Guests whirl through the front entrance’s revolving doors to find the main lounge, where they wait for their rooms or order a drink.

The reception area is also just beyond, where the staff does its best to assist with quick room access.  I arrived late in the afternoon, so my room was already ready and I was offered a late checkout due to my IHG One Rewards elite status, indicating that the property honors its perks for those who need extra time in the room.

I noticed the club lounge had been moved to the lobby level (perhaps to encourage guests to upgrade to this category). The nearly $40 mandatory amenity fee includes a $25 food and beverage credit (the minibar counts), a $20 laundry credit or a $50 credit toward the $150 fee for club lounge access.

If I had more time in New York, I would have accepted the latter offer. This would have meant being able to enjoy evening cocktails, wine, beer and snacks on a complimentary basis plus breakfast and daytime refreshments. But my 6 a.m. departure made that a moot point.

Known as The Parlor, the hotel’s restaurant had plenty of options, including an escarole Caesar salad that caught my eye, but alas, New York has too many other entertaining options.

Still, the lounge and bar do a lot of business when groups are in-house, and the $25 food and beverage credit that comes with the hotel’s amenity fee means that many people stick around to use it.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

The rooms here showcase a fresh flair, unlike what they were a century ago. Updates to the rooms look amazing and have taken what was an aging palace to a redesign meant for the next era.

While the hotel attracts many convention groups (it has more than 700 rooms and suites and numerous ballroom and boardroom setups), it is also a solid spot for tourists and business travelers.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

By the elevator banks in the lobby, a display about the hotel showcases the glamorous past decades of guests who have checked in here. It’s a fun way to wait for the elevator and learn about the property’s history.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

Gold-framed elevators lead to carpeted hallways with beautifully designed doorways that look residential. Behind them are small foyers, which lead to small closets and larger sleeping areas.

The size of the room depends on the category you book. I used points for my room, which in January was a relative bargain for 27,000 points.

My Classic room overlooked the street, which was very entertaining while I worked for the evening on an assignment at the tableside desk. I loved the easy-access power outlets demonstrating the hotel’s renewed focus on business travelers.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

The bathrooms are bright with enormous mirrors, white tiles and glass shower stalls. The Balmain toiletries had a lovely fragrance that I remembered from other InterContinental hotels around the world. They came from eco-friendly pump bottles, and I found the water pressure to be excellent for a historical hotel.

There are numerous suites in the mix, but since I did not book one, I didn’t see them. They include the largest, the Harold S. Vanderbilt Penthouse, named in honor of the railroad tycoon who lived at the hotel for several years.

There are also one-bedroom suites, some with fireplaces, and larger suites like the Park Suite, Madison Suite and Presidential Suite. If I had booked a Club InterContinental room, I would have been able to enjoy access to the lounge to work, but honestly, my street-facing window was just as entertaining.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

The fitness center has plenty of modern equipment, and many people were stopping in to check it out. They were also refilling their water bottles from the dispenser. There is no full-service spa here, but guests can pay for treatments with advance notice. The meeting facilities are the biggest draw here, and they are especially attractive with chandelier-bedecked foyers.

Photo by Ramsey Qubein

Free wireless internet worked well in every corner of the hotel. While I was not a fan of the $40 amenity fee (I ended up taking two drinks from the minibar I did not otherwise need), the hotel proved fresh, modern and representative of InterContinental’s elegant new look that is taking over the portfolio across the world.

How to get to InterContinental New York Barclay

Reaching one of New York’s airports is easy; these include New York-LaGuardia (the closest) as well as New York-John F. Kennedy and Newark International Airport. They are served by the top major airlines from around the country and the world.

With so many options for using miles and points, New York is a quick getaway for many people, especially on the East Coast.

American Airlines is one of the best at offering cheap one-way awards to the city with prices as low as 5,500 miles. Other airlines are also competitive, but American is one of the best with a robust LaGuardia flight network.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines use their own dynamic pricing models, but their deals are not as respectable as American’s at times. Still, it’s hard to know how many miles you need before your trip. If you want to check what’s available, use the AAdvantage award map tool, which makes things easier.

How to maximize your rewards

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