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“Quietly Elegant Upper East Side Hotel”
Review of The Surrey

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The Surrey
Ranked #86 of 468 Hotels in New York City
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 12 September 2010

We booked a 3 night stay here based on what has become a potent trifecta for most of our travel decisions: enticing rate from a private sale website, good TA reviews, and the hotel's own website. We actually tried 2 hotels and neighbourhoods for this trip--we went south to the Cooper Square Hotel (see separate review) after the Surrey.

I have actually been to this location twice in the past--both times to dine at the restaurant, first when it was Daniel (Daniel Boulud first opened Daniel here before moving to its larger location on East 65th), and then when it was Cafe Boulud. I knew there was a hotel adjacent, but really took no notice. The furthest north we've previously stayed on the Upper East Side was the Pierre on 61st. Thanks to a huge ($60 million and 14 months, I was told) renovation of this former 1926 residence hotel, you now cannot help but notice the Surrey. It reopened in 11/09. It is a quietly elegant UES find; a place to consider alongside the neighbouring Carlyle and Mark hotels. The UES is decidedly upscale, mostly residential. Central Park and Madison Ave. boutiques are a short stroll away, as is the subway stop and Lenox Hill Hospital.

The remodel, by Rottet Studio, is meant to evoke an NYC townhouse "passed down through generations, keeper of a lifetime of memories". It is simultaneously modern and nostalgic. The marble lobby is of good size, with a tapestry of Kate Moss adorning one wall (I think the art installations rotate). Cafe Boulud is on one side, Bar Pleiades (a stylish lounge) on the other. Both have outdoor seating.


I had asked for a street-facing room; ours was a corner room with windows on 2 sides plus the bathroom, so lots of light. It faced Madison Ave. with its New York symphony of honking horns, which thankfully usually took an all night intermission. Rooms facing 76th are probably quieter, although there was street work being done during our stay. The room was the smallest offered--a Deluxe Salon--but was still of decent size, with all the amenities of the next room category (Grand Deluxe Salon), except it was not as long, the 2 chairs were smaller, and there was one bathroom sink vs. 2. Done up in shades of gray with touches of brown, a filigree pattern is echoed in the carpet, pillows, glassware, drapes and A/C unit screen. The minibar is extensive, with large bottles of liquors--there is a Boulud Cocktail program where a mixologist will come to your room with enough accoutrements for 4-5 drinks and mix them up for you. The TV is high def with innumerable channels, including music and an IPod dock. The room light switches are unique--they control all the lights based on the time of day. Rizzoli coffee table books. Cute desk with lift top to hold stationery. Room service menu with some selections from Boulud. The marble bathroom had fantastic lighting, making the magnifying mirror unflinchingly honest. No tub, but a large shower with 2 perfect heads. Pratesi robes.

The spa (which we did not try), fitness center and business center are on the 2nd floor. On the roof, or penthouse level, there is a fabulous outdoor garden/patio open to guests only, with a view of Central Park. It is open seasonally, weather permitting, from about noon well into the night, and is a great place for a drink (they specialize in lemonades muddled with any variety of fruits and herbs, with or without vodka), or a bite to eat (select items from the In-room dining menu). We had lunch reservations at Cafe Boulud one day, but had to cancel, unfortunate especially because Restaurant Week this summer was extended to Labor Day. We did breakfast there one morning and did le petit dejeuner l'express buffet. Consider dressing up for lunch and certainly for dinner.

Service was uniformly outstanding and congenial from reception to housekeeping, with everyone extending a greeting as you passed by. We did not require the services of the concierge, but the head concierge is a member of Les Clefs d'Or. The nattily suited, tall Asian staff member with whom I casually conversed by the elevator at the roof garden turned out to be , I discovered later, none other than General Manager Spencer Wadama. Had I known, I would have complimented him on taking the time to personally respond to each TA review.

Lastly, a few glitches. We arrived in a light rain, bet there was no umbrella in the room. The lobby ran out of umbrellas before 10:30am, so I had to go up and get the (small) one I had fortunately packed. The room also had no lint brush or shoe horn, things I use if they are around, but they were probably available on request. The leaky toilet that left an unseen puddle on the floor necessitated a change of pants. I was told there was no house car, although a TA review mentioned one. Also mentioned in TA reviews is the 50 cents/minute charge for internet use in the business center--ridiculous!

We've tried many NY hotels and neighbourhoods over the years, and the Surrey ranks highly among them. Its smaller size, personal service, style and location are all winning, and we would gladly return.

  • Stayed: August 2010
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5  Thank pillowsofwanderlust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 17 September 2010

Daer Pillowsof wanderlust,

Thank you for being so adverntuous and going North of 61st. I am happy you chose the Surrey. Thank you as well for posting your comments.

I must say, your review is extremely detailed. I am happy to share your comments with my team and appreciate the fact that you have recognized so many of my wonderful staff and the hard work that they do every day. We are proud of our hotel but realize that the expectations of service constantly evolve and so we work on improving every day. I respond to all the reviews because I appreciate the time a guest takes to share their experience. Its the least I can do. So the thank you.

My apologies for the mis-communication on the house car service, we do now have it daily but basically in the morning and the dinner hours of the day.

Thank you again and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Upper East Side soon,.

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1,623 - 1,629 of 1,883 reviews

Reviewed 6 September 2010

My husband and I chose this hotel to stay for my first visit to New York for several reasons: the good reviews on TripAdvisor, the great pictures and style of the hotel, the location, and the level of class and comfort that was expected based on the ratings and price.
We were disappointed with this hotel from start to finish. To begin, we booked the room through the hotel's website and they were offering a discount for the week we chose. It basically ended up giving us our fourth night free, and for four days our total (with taxes included) came to around $1,900, so about $475 per night on average. Even with the discount, for us, this is a good chunk of change to spend on a hotel. With that said, we undoubtedly had high expectations.
When booking the room the website offers several drop down lists that allow you to select certain preferences for your room. We requested King Bed, quiet room, high floor, and room with view. As we finished check out they also offer an upgrade to a room with a terrace for an extra $35 per night if available at check in.
So when we arrive at the hotel, the man at the desk does not mention anything about the upgrade or anything of the preferences we had selected. It was as if he didn't even look. So we asked about the upgrade and he says "oh, let me check"... "oh, shoot the two women just before you got it". Okay, whatever. Anyway, on with the check in... So he puts us in room 1115, 11th floor out of 16 or 17, and on Madison avenue. Yes it was somewhat high but no view except for a stop light, and oh my goodness the loudest room I have ever stayed in. We stayed in this room for 3 out of the 4 nights and the reason I did not complain sooner was because my husband kept telling me "we're in New York, it's going to be loud no matter where you are"... Well, that's bull because finally on the fourth day I realized that BOTH windows were basically broken open. Difficult to describe but they basically would not shut because of screw that prevented them from shutting. So I had absolutely no sleep for 3 nights and finally the fourth night I called and complained and they asked if I wanted someone to come fix it or a room change. I opted for the room change because we were still on the noisiest street (Madison Ave). So they change us to room 1107, which made a WORLD of difference as it faced 76th street.
Ok, so next... Their restaurant, Cafe Boulud, has a dress code even for lunch so we were turned away for inside dining. A bit understandable but also a bit annoying as outside was not really an option since it was 95 degrees outside. But the host was nice enough to tell us that we were more than welcome to sit and dine if we go upstairs and change! Awkward....
It continues... The last night we stayed we decided to do in-room dining after returning from a show and unable to find a decent place to eat on a whim at 11:45 PM. We order a $25 hamburger and the man says "you will receive your order no later that 12:15 AM". Well we finally decide to call and check at 12:25 AM because we were starting to fall asleep and the man says there was some confusion in the kitchen but it's being plated and on it's way up right now. Well we received our burger at 12:45 AM. The boy that brought it said nothing other than "sorry for the delay". So at this point, I'm a bit sensitized with the hotel and I said to the server "well are you going to discount this meal since it's 30 minutes later than what it was guaranteed?" The boy then quickly says in a very short tone "I'll have it removed from your bill" and then literally storms out of the room without giving us a split second to reply.
The bell boys literally swarm you on the way in and on the way out whether it be to help you with your bag or force you to let them call you a cab, even if you tell them "no thank you" several times. We literally had 3 separate guys walk us and our bags out of the hotel and it felt like each one wanted a tip. It was very confusing and awkward and embarrassing.
So to wrap things up, I don't expect these experiences at a hotel that I pay this amount of money for. We are not rich, we just work hard and set aside money for when we get to take a vacation, and we like to stay at nicer places because we like to have comfort. This hotel just added a lot of stress to our trip, and they did not seem to have a concern for customer satisfaction. We will not return.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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13  Thank JennJenn84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 10 September 2010

Dear Jennjenn84,

Thank you for choosing the Surrey and thank you for posting your comments.

My name is Spencer Wadama, General Manager. I appreciate your comments and of course read with disappointment that we failed to provide you with an experience you expected. Please know that i take your comments to heart and will share them with my team.

I am concerned with the statement that you will not return, please feel free to contact me directly so I can apologize in personally and thank you as well.

All the best.

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Reviewed 2 September 2010

An outstanding balance of very friendly and highly knowledgeable staff, tasteful ambience, and superb upper east side location. The bed was supremely comfortable. Elegant but not too fussy decor. My new favourite Manhattan hotel!

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled on business
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2  Thank McClound
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2010

We stayed in New York for just under a fortnight and booked the Surrey after reading reviews on here and I have to say I am so glad we stayed here,

Nothing and I mean nothing was ever too much problem to any of the staff. They will turn down your pillows at night and leave a biscuit by the bed. If you want anything one call to reception and they deal with it straight away.

The room we got overlooked Madison Avenue on the eighth floor and it was a really good size with a huge bed that you'd happily stay in all day if you could.

The hotel is just a couple of blocks away from the nearest tube stop in one direction and Central Park the oter way. It's a nice quiet area yet so close in another sense to anywhere in New York.

The gym in the hotel was good for any exercise you want to do although walking around New York is a good bet too. Although I never used the restaurant in the hotel we did try room service one night which was speedy enough and of good quality as well.

If we go back to New York which I suspect we might just do then this is the hotel we'll be using again.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank APTLiverpool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 2 September 2010

Dear APTLiverpool,

Thank you for choosing the Surrey and thank you for sharing your experience.

My name is Spencer Wadama, General Manager. I am very happy to read your comments and impressions on the hotel, service, staff and neighborhood. Our team works diligently to ensure that we provide the best in service. Your comments are reassuring to that effort.

We look forward to your return and wish you the best. Thank you again.

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Reviewed 30 August 2010

This hotel has it all. It is a smaller hotel which makes it very intimit. All the staff know your name and say hello and good-bye to you by name. The concerige couldn't be more helpful. Just tell them what you would like to do and they will set it all up for you and leave the information for your event in your room ready for when you return. This hotel was SOOOO comfortable and had all the amenities you could wish for. If you can upgrade to a suite, do it, you will be amazed. It quickly feels like home, only better. This hotel is only a 5 minute walk to central park in one direction and 5 minute walk to the subway in the other direction. Cab rides to times square cost roughly $6.00 (in slower traffic times). We enjoyed the room and this hotel so much, that even with the thousands of hotels in NYC to choose from, we will return here.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank LauraLondon_Canada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 2 September 2010

Dear LauraLondon_Canada,

Thank you for choosing the Surrey and thank you for the wonderful post.

My name is Spencer Wadama, General Manager. I am very happy to read your comments and I am sure my team will be proud to know that we made your New York City experience a positive one.

We look forward to welcoming you back in the neat future and of course my best to you.

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Reviewed 28 August 2010

I recently stayed at The Surrey as part of proposing to my girlfriend in Central Park. The hotel itself was great, as many of the reviewers here have pointed out. Our room was delightful, with a wonderful balcony and all the amenities I would hope for. I really like the style and decor of the place too. The hotel is lovely, as was the rooftop bar.

On top of this, the staff were *amazing*. Michael, the concierge, helped me plan many of the details of the proposal itself, including a scouting trip in Central Park looking for the best spot! Refreshingly, there was no attempt to sell me any extra services from the hotel, though we did end up having a nice picnic in addition to breakfast from Cafe Boulud the next morning.

I can't stress enough how *all* the staff made us feel not only welcome, but they were all aware of our engagement and made things truly special. It's a day I'll never forget, and The Surrey is a very big part of that. I look forward to returning there and reliving this day for the rest of our lives.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank sjwukc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 30 August 2010

Dear Sjwukc,

Thank you for choosing the Surrey as your start to your new life adventure. We were honored to be a part.

My name is Spencer Wadama, General Manager. I am happy to share your comments with my team and especially recognize Michael for taking such great care and consideration in planning of your event. I am happy to see he rose to the occasion. I am fortunate to work with him.

Best of luck in your future and please let us know if we can ever be of assistance to you. Looking forward to welcoming you back to the Surrey and New York City.

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Reviewed 28 August 2010

I recently spent 4 nights here primarily on the back of Tripadvisor's unwaivering support! It is clearly a classy hotel - all front of house staff were exceptional and the furnishing of the foyer and room were of the highest standard. Daily servicing of the room was subtle - so pleasant not to be awoken at 08:30am by a loud bagning on the door from someone demanding to clean the room!! In addition, the hotel's location onthe Upper East Side is a fantastic base for anyone wishing to explore Manhattan.

A couple of minor qualms however. Although we received excellent value on the room itself, $50+ for two distinctly average cocktails on the roof top bar is extortionate, even by Upper East side standards. The other issue we had was a failed attempt to secure an (admittedly very last minute) table for lunch at the Cafe. I appreciate they are busy at lunch but it was our only ask of the concierge over the 4 days and I would have thought it possible in a hotel of this quality. Indeed, as we headed off to find lunch elsewhere, there were at least a couple of free tables noticeable outside.

All in all a very good place to stay in NYC and I would recommend it.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled on business
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Thank Irish2002
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swadama, General Manager at The Surrey, responded to this reviewResponded 30 August 2010

Dear Irish2002,

Thank you for choosing to stay at the Surrey and for sharing your experience.

My name is Spencer Wadama, General Manager. I am glad that overall you had a nice experience. i will happily share with my team.

I do understand your comment on the drink pricing and will review. In regards to obtaining a reservation in Cafe Boulud, I would agree with your sentiment. Overall, its wonderful to have such a highly acclaimed dining establishment, but it also has it challenges. This restaurant is in very high demand, yet I would agree that we have to have more availbility for our guest at the last minute, i will discuss with the manager.

I appreciate your understanding. Thank you again and I hope to welcome you back to the Surrey in the near future.

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Additional Information about The Surrey

Address: 20 East 76th Street, New York City, NY 10021-2643
Phone Number:
Region: United States > New York > New York City > Upper East Side
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Business Hotel in New York City
#12 Romantic Hotel in New York City
#19 Spa Hotel in New York City
#24 Green Hotel in New York City
#27 Family Hotel in New York City
#71 Luxury Hotel in New York City
Price Range: £350 - £750 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Surrey 5*
Number of rooms: 189
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The #1 hotel in New York City as voted by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, The Surrey is a discreet escape on Manhattan's Upper East Side Steps from Central Park, world-class museums, and Madison Avenue shopping, the hotel features Cornelia Spa and Daniel Boulud's Michelin-starred Café Boulud. It is New York City's only Relais & Châteaux hotel. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Surrey Hotel New York City
Surrey Hotel New York City
Surrey Suite Hotel
Surrey New York City

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