01. Introduction: Business class battle royale – British Airways vs. Virgin Atlantic
02. British Airways 747-400 Club World (business class) San Diego to London (LHR)
03. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London
04. Hilton London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4
05. The 3 things that I love most about London
06. Virgin Atlantic Club House, LHR
07. Virgin Atlantic A340-600 Upper Class (business class) London (LHR) to New York (JFK)
08. InterContinental New York Barclay
09. jetBlue A321 Mint (business class) New York (JFK) to Los Angeles
10. Delta Connection CRJ-900 economy class Los Angeles to San Diego
Before this one night stay at the InterContinental Barclay here in New York, I never really gave much thought to luxury hotels. Of course I like fancy hotels as much as the next traveler, but I prefer to spend my money on flights and not worry so much about finding the most luxurious accommodations once I arrive at my destination. Give me a quiet comfortable bed in a good location, and I’m good. I don’t need to be pampered while on the ground. Or so I thought…
I’ve never had a bad hotel stay in New York City, so I felt that my chances of choosing a good hotel were pretty good (did I just jinx myself or what?). You see, there are a lot of choices on the island of Manhattan, and the competition between properties makes it a traveler’s dream. You can’t really go wrong with a mid-tier hotel in the city of New York – so it’s very easy just to decide on the area of the city you want to stay, and make a hotel choice based on that. That’s exactly what I did for this trip. The last time I was in the city, I stayed in the Times Square area. The time before that, Broadway. Since I didn’t really have any plans for my one night stay, I was quite flexible in terms of what part of the city I wanted to call my home base. I ultimately decided to stay near Grand Central Station, and the InterContinental Barclay one one of the options presented to me in my filtered search. It looked good, the price was decent (at least compared to everything else) so I booked it. Simple as that.
A quick check of the traffic situation on google maps while standing curbside at JFK after arriving from LHR revealed that things didn’t look too bleak going into the city, so I decided to splurge on a taxi. Unfortunately, the traffic was getting brutal once we made it into midtown shortly after 1pm and I ended up getting out of the cab with several blocks to go and just walking the rest of the way. It was certainly faster than siting in traffic!
Making matters worse was how hot it was in the city that day. The calendar may have said late October, but it was 85 degrees and I was wearing far too many layers of clothing to feel comfortable.
I was a hot sweaty mess by the time I reached the entrance to the InterContinental, and right away I felt massively out of place. Everyone in the lobby was wearing suits and pretty dresses, while SANspotter trotted in drenched in sweaty khakis and a t-shirt. Yikes. On one hand, I was feeling very awkward. On the other hand, things were looking up as this looked to be one heck of a nice hotel!
I found the room to be quite interesting actually. I wasn’t all that impressed when I first walked in, but after having a look around, I realized that the design and decor of nearly every element of the room was top notch. It was a seriously good looking room – so good looking in fact, that I was afraid to touch anything before I had the chance to clean up a bit from the long and hot ride into the city from JFK.
Normally I like to indulge in room service when traveling alone, but that’s just something that I can’t do in New York City. There are so many good restaurants up and down every street here, and it’s not difficult to find something many times better than what you could get delivered to your room. I did consider the room service option for a split second though – until I had a look a the prices. Yikes. I was clearly out of my league, and it was a big fat reminder that I was staying in a luxury hotel.
I ended up going to a local takeout place for dinner that evening, but I took full advantage of the luxuriousness of the room later with a long hot shower and lounging around in the amazing bath robe and pillow-like slippers. That was nice. Quite nice in fact, and I was very disappointed about being able to stay only one night here.
This was my second-ever stay at an InterContinental (my first was earlier this year at the Presidente InterContinental in Mexico City), and I think I like this brand a lot. Sure, they are more expensive than the usual Hyatt’s and Hilton’s that I tend to gravitate towards, but I need to find a way to earn reward points for future stays. It’s totally worth it.