It's day twenty (for me) in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my Christmas/New Year travels in NYC and Europe – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letters are X and Y for the Exuberant and Youthful Hyatt Regency in Jersey City. Feel free to follow along as I make my way through the alphabet! Only one more day left! :)
Date: January 2016
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Jersey City
Elite Status: Platinum
# of travelers: 2
Hotel: Making the Decision
Out of all of the hotels I stayed at in New York City during the holidays, choosing the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City was one of the easiest and most complicated hotel decisions I made. For one, I was looking for hotels with Christmas trees and views, but I was also trying to save money. At the point in which I booked this hotel, I had myself convinced that I would be staying 2 nights in both NYC and Paris for free and paying for one night; then I just had to decide which night would I be paying for?
Many variety of Hyatts, just like in Paris, were recommended for NYC. People on the travel forums that I look at for advice suggested staying in the financial district or at Chelsea… But when I looked on Tripadvisor, none of these expensive, point costly hotels offered any of the things I was after – mainly a view. When I spotted the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City and began researching it, I discovered that I could get a view for nearly half the points (15,000 vs. 30,000) and a view if I was willing to stay outside of the city. Considering my husband and I would be flying back home from EWR, this didn't seem like such a bad idea. The biggest complications we would run into would include getting in and out of the city; I figured for one day we could handle that.
So, the decision was made. 15,000 points from our Chase Ultimate Rewards account was transferred and we were guaranteed a room in Jersey City. And if we were lucky, we'd find ourselves with a sweet view! :)
Getting to the Hyatt Regency ended up being incredibly complicated. My husband and I took a bus from JFK to EWR and then cabbed over to our hotel. I think it took nearly 2 hours or more? It was ridiculous. I don't even know that it saved us money.
HOWEVER, you will be glad to know that the Hyatt Regency is located right next to the Jersey subway (PATH). And even better, PATH connects easily to the NYC subway (MTA). In fact, you can buy tickets for both at the one station (Exchange Place).
Another option: because the hotel is right on the Hudson River, you can take the ferry from Manhattan to Jersey City. A fun experience for the kids and certainly a different way to arrive to the hotel than the usual!
Cabs may or may not be an option for you. According to what I've read online, cabs from LGA and JFK don't have a set price for going into New Jersey. Usually the route is very long, crosses under a tunnel, and has a toll. Some cab drivers will work out a deal with you, but you will have to figure this out before leaving the airport. Uber or Lyft might be better options, but they could still be costly.
If you are a good planner and nervous about having transportation, the Hyatt Regency offers a car that you can reserve to pick you up up from EWR or take you there. My husband and I paid a flat fee of $70 for the service, but we were glad to know that when we woke up the next morning a car would be there waiting for us and we wouldn't be 1) ripped off (because we knew the fee upfront) and 2) late to the airport for our early morning flight home.
NYC also offers various buses to get around the city (which you could take to the subway, ferry, or airport), or you could potential rent or drive your own car for a $38 overnight parking fee.
Because Jersey City and NYC are so close to one another, you have a plethora of options to consider. It really just comes down to what is best for you and the people you are traveling with.
Checking In & Porter
When my husband and I arrived to the hotel, exhausted from a full day of transporting, we were crazy happy when the porter took our luggage from us so that we could check in. He went up an elevator around the corner, that we couldn't see from where we were, and we went up an escalator to the front desk. We were warmly greeted by the staff who helped us get situated as quickly as possible. The sun was setting outside and, with views of the sunset over the Hudson, I was desperate to get to a position where I could photograph the last bits of light before it disappeared over the horizon.
Room, View, Amenities
When we finally got to our room, I threw my handbag down and flew to the window. We had received an upgrade as Hyatt Platinum members, so our window view was looking out over the Hudson River at the Manhattan skyline. We had a couch on which I could perch as I shot picture after picture of our amazing view.
The room itself wasn't half bad either. We had a king bed big enough for … well, a king. :) And the room was a decent size too. We felt as though we could spread out and be comfortable. Even the furnishings were nice and updated. Even though we were staying uncomfortably outside of the New York City limits, our room and view definitely made up for it.
After showers using hotel provided shampoo, soap, and conditioner, in a desperate attempt to wake up, the porter finally arrived with our luggage. It's not that he had taken his time, but it was more that we were in a hurry to get out and enjoy the rest of our night in the city. Plus, we had to buy a bag from Macy's before they closed!
So off we went! :)
Lobby & Bar
At the end of the night, before retiring to our room, despite how tired we were, I asked Justin if we could get a drink from the bar and enjoy the lit up Manhattan skyline from the hotel lobby. Justin agreed, so that's just what we did. :)
He ordered a local beer and I ordered a lime rickey. We just sat for… well, as long as we could keep our eyes open, drinking, and, every now and then, talking about our whole experience of traveling to all of the places in the two weeks following Christmas. Overall we had a wonderful time and this chance of taking the opportunity to drink yummy drinks while looking at the night skyline gave us the chance to relax and reflect on that before we headed back home and into a crazy, work week.
Ballroom & Balcony View
As we got into the elevator to head to our room, rather than press the number for the lower level that our hotel room was actually on, I asked Justin if we could go to the floor directly above ours, the highest one, just to see. :) Being Justin, he said yes and up we went!
We weren't too impressed when we got off the elevator. There were chairs and tables galore and the room looked fairly unused. We walked up next to the windows, as close as we could get, and marveled at the various views from the different sides of the hotel, some of which were views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline that we couldn't see from our room.
Then, Justin found a door that led to a balcony! Afraid we'd get locked out, we tested the door first. One of us went outside while the other stayed inside: would it work? In fact, yes it did! :) So on a chilly night in December Justin and I ventured out onto the balcony of Hyatt Regency Jersey City and received a marvelous 180º view of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. With the weather so nice that night, we almost didn't want to go in. However, I was desperate for pictures, and both my DSLR and Nexus 6 (to get a 360º view) were in the hotel room; I asked Justin if we could go get them.
Leaving the balcony for our cameras was where we made the mistake. I'm not sure if we had gotten in just the right elevator to get to that top floor or what, but, after collecting our camera equipment, when we pressed the button again, the elevator didn't go anywhere. :( And so we went looking for stairs only to find the top level locked for every door we tried. Apparently we had one opportunity to see that fantastic view, and that opportunity was now over. Time for bed.
Come the next morning, as you can imagine, we didn't want to wake up. Luckily, we didn't have to wait any time for a taxi since we had reserved the hotel car to take us to EWR that morning. From the cab, I sadly watched as the sun rose and I was, yet again, not in a position for photographing it.
When we got to the airport, we pulled out croissants we had bought the night before from a vendor near Bryant Park the night before and grabbed some Starbucks to drink at LGA. The whole experience was quick and easy.
In fact, we were boarding the plane ready to return home in hardly any time at all. Our 17 day adventure had finally come to an end.
Never in a good place to view the sunrise or sunset!
The Hyatt Regency Jersey City went above and beyond my expectations by giving us an unexpected room with a view on a high floor. Unknowingly they also gave us the opportunity to see the Manhattan skyline from the balcony of the hotel, which only added to our enjoyment of staying here. We also really liked the size of the room and the bar's location next to panoramic views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. The hotel was also really close to the subway making it super easy to access public transportation. And when public transportation just wouldn't do, they had a driver you could schedule to take you to the airport. Altogether, the hotel seemed to have thought of everything! I truly can't imagine a better experience from this hotel … aside from …
The hotel didn't offer breakfast … or free drinks … or much of anything.
Yes, I understand that I'm spoiled. :) I also understand that I've probably already paid for those little extras when I get them, but… they are nice. They add to the overall customer experience. They make me feel special. :)
(And don't tell me you have to be Hyatt Platinum to get free breakfast. I already knew that!)
Also, the hotel was located outside of the city limits. It didn't really affect my stay here, but given the length of time it can take to get from Jersey City to Manhattan, I could see how this could be a (small) problem.
Would I recommend this hotel?
Absolutely! In fact, I anticipate returning here in the summer and potentially watching the July 4th fireworks while there. It's a fantastic hotel, and I don't say that lightly. With a free breakfast, I would have definitely given this hotel a 5 star rating!
Have you ever considered staying at a hotel slightly outside the city limits of a place you are visiting just so that you can pay less? If so, was it a good experience or did you wish you had been closer? If not, would you consider doing it in the future? Does easy access to public transportation play a role in where you choose to book hotels?