from Memphis, Tennessee
Submitted on 07-06-2016
I stayed at the Pod 51 Hotel for 3 nights this past weekend. Located on east 51st St. near 3rd Avenue, it is within a block or two of two subway stations and within walking distance of St. Patrick's Cathedral, MOMA, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, and the Morgan Library. A French bistro is just next door, a Thai restaurant two doors up, and a 24-hour Duane Reade drug store just a block or so away. Of course, this is an "economy" hotel, so I expected the mi...
I stayed at the Pod 51 Hotel for 3 nights this past weekend. Located on east 51st St. near 3rd Avenue, it is within a block or two of two subway stations and within walking distance of St. Patrick's Cathedral, MOMA, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, and the Morgan Library. A French bistro is just next door, a Thai restaurant two doors up, and a 24-hour Duane Reade drug store just a block or so away. Of course, this is an "economy" hotel, so I expected the minimum of service and was startled when, just after my airport shuttle dropped me off, a bellman suddenly came rushing out the hotel's front door, greeted me, and assisted me with my luggage.
This hotel is priced for the budget-minded traveler, but nothing about it is "cheap" or "low rent." The clean, spacious lobby features a nice mural about New York life, and just off the lobby is a nice lounge where guests gather for breakfast, chat, or checking e-mail or the internet on one of three terminals built into the wall (I was able to use one of them to check into my return flight and print my boarding pass to the printer behind the front desk). Just outside the lobby is a garden balcony for enjoying one's coffee in the cool morning air. And the roof, 14 floors up, features a very spacious deck with plenty of chairs and a nice Midtown NY view.
I was in New York to meet friends and had breakfast elsewhere, but prices on the a la carte breakfast menu (posted in the elevators) seemed reasonable, and alcoholic beverages were also available for purchase. WiFi is free and works well.
The staff are all professional, courteous, and accommodating. Although no one announced this, I'm pretty sure they have a plainclothes security officer in the lobby each shift, from the way the men I saw looked and carried themselves, and of course, this adds to the feeling of security, even though the hotel seems to be in a nice neighborhood anyway.
Complimentary copies of USA Today are available at the front desk, and a soda machine is nearby. Walking tours are available for guests two or three days a week, and guests can even seen up to be in the audience on the Larry Wilmore show.
Room prices are a great bargain for Manhattan. The room was one of the smallest I've ever been in, but everything was so efficiently and elegantly arranged that I never felt cramped or closed in. I suppose there must be rooms large enough for couples, but I stayed in a single. The room included a sink and mirror, a recessed "closet" space that even included a built-in safe, a bath towel, hand towel (but strangely, no washrag), a blow dryer, plastic drinking tumblers, two bars of soap, small vials of body lotion and conditioner, a wall-mounted flat screen TV, a single chair, a spacious counter-type desk, an in-room phone, a clock radio, a wall-mounted reading lamp, a bedside table, several conveniently placed electrical outlets for recharging your phone, and an extra pillow on a shelf in the closet. "Clean, comfortable, cozy, and convenient" were the words that came to mind.
Rooms are available with in-room toilets and showers for a higher rate, but I stayed in one with a shared bath for the sake of a lower price. I haven't shared a bath in years, and it was my only misgiving, because I thought that two rooms had a bath between them and that I might end up locked out because the tenant of the other room forgot and left the door to my side locked from within.
In fact, there was no need for anxiety. Each floor has two adjacent rooms marked "W.C.," with a clear indicator on the door as to whether it is vacant or occupied. Your room key also opens the bathroom. Each bathroom has a toilet, sink, and shower stall with plenty of hot water and wall-mounted dispensers of soap and shampoo. Over a 3-night-stay involving 3 morning showers and one in late afternoon, as I prepared for an evening out, as well as one nocturnal visit each night to use the toilet, I never saw either bathroom occupied at all or had to wait for one to open. One or two guests were a little inconsiderate and left their wet towel mats lying next to the shower instead of taking them back to their rooms, but overall, the bathrooms were clean and neat.
The bed was only just big enough for one person, of course, but quite comfortable, as were the pillows. The air-conditioning kept the room cool and pleasant. Interestingly, though I would hear music and conversation coming from other rooms as I passed them on the way to mine, once inside my own room, I heard nothing at all from outside, though part of this may have been because I had a corner room. The window shutters kept out the outside light sufficiently to let me sleep.
I have only four complaints:
1. No washrag with your bath linens. I haven't bathed or showered without a washrag in 35 years.
2. Although I got maid service, on my second day there, no hand towel was left with clean bath linens, and I had to stop a hotel staff member in the hall and ask for one.
3. On one of my mornings there, I called the front desk around 6:15 (in other words, when it was not busy), and it rang ten times, and no one answered.
4. The elevators are sometimes so slow that you wonder if the call buttons aren't working.
Overall, though, I highly recommend this place. The location can't be beat, and if you are traveling alone and watching your budget but still want a place that is clean, well-run, and with some reasonable (and even unexpected) amenities, the Pod 51 is worth a serious look.