by Lissa Poirot
New York: 1920s. Grand Central Station was like traditional European rail stations. Bustling, crowded, dirty- and all above ground. Enter the Vanderbilt family, who had a unique idea: put the railways and station underground and build out the air space. The result opened up acres of land and allowed skyscrapers to develop, four of which were slated as hotels for the train travelers passing through. One of the properties is The Barclay, a hotel that was meant to provide a residential feel to travelers with oversized hallways, in-room fireplaces and a grand, welcoming lobby. Guests could utilize a tunnel system to take them directly to the trains, purchasing fares at the lobby ticket window.
Today, the upscale and worldwide InterContinental chain owns and operates the Barclay. It shut the hotel doors for 20 months and invested $180 million in renovations. When it reopened in April 2016, the InterContinental Barclay juxtaposed modern style and comforts with the hotel’s original Federalist and Jazz Age beginnings. The result is a refined hotel property, worthy of its station.
Our Editor Loves
- Walking distance to Grand Central
- Midtown East location
- Blocks from kid-friendly attractions
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
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Of the more than 700 rooms and suites available in the InterContinental, all have been renovated. Formerly, guests complained about tiny bathrooms and too much street noise. The hotel enlarged bathrooms and replaced the windows with triple-paned windows that block out most noise (save the occasional siren). Rooms were transformed from dark woods and maroons to a gray and white palate and a return to the hotel's original Federalist style.
The hotel can guarantee connecting rooms and the largest rooms available to families are connecting a standard room with two queen beds to a suite, which features a living room with sofa bed and a king master. This combination can sleep eight comfortably with a shared living room and two full bathrooms.
Some rooms have stand-up showers only and some have bathtubs. If you need a room with a tub, be sure to call and request one.
Thirty-one one-bedroom suites are available. The standard suites start at 500 square feet and offer a king or two double beds and a sleeper sofa in the separate living area. Deluxe suites start at 750 square feet and feature decorative fireplaces and a small dining area. Both offerings provide flat-screen TVs in the living and bedroom and marble bathrooms.
A number of standard rooms are available, with the most basic, a Superior, starting at 250 square feet and outfitted with a king or two queen beds. Deluxe rooms start at 275 square feet and Premier rooms start at 300 square feet. Executive rooms, also at 300 square feet, overlook Park Avenue, while Barclay rooms, at 275 square feet, feature corner, double exposure rooms for the best views. Sky Deluxe rooms, at 350 square feet, offers two double beds and a bit more space, and also connect to the Penthouse Sky Suite.
Club level guests receive complimentary food and drinks, including breakfast and afternoon tea, in its club space. Guests also receive free Internet, newspapers and private check-in and check-out services.
Wonderful first-time stay. Very, very quiet hotel with beautiful lobby and bar area. Centrally located. Rooms are spacious and very nicely appointed (I believe the hotel was redone within the past 3 years at most...). Has a bit of a business traveler type ambiance, so if looking for Old-World or Boutique, this is not for you. Our room was lovely, but suffered from incredibly poor lighting - a lamp on either side of the bed, a lamp on the desk and a picture light hanging above the wallpapered mural. For the size the room, all of this little lighting left much of the room in various degrees of shadow. Also, for a hotel of this caliber, there is no reason at all to have paper coffee cups in the rooms...none. A couple of ceramic mugs are easy to do, are "green" and offer much higher end touch. We did have a very unfortunate experience with housekeeping, which was really never completely corrected. Had that ended on a better note, I would be leaving a better review. As it is, we enjoyed our stay, but will stay someplace else next time.
We are just back from this hotel, we booked a one bedroom suite which was amazing, it had everything we needed. It was very quiet all the the time which we were pleased with. We also had club access which is breakfast, afternoon bites and nibbles and wine 6-8pm. We enjoyed the breakfast as it had everything you could want. If we were in the hotel in the afternoon we would have a coffee and a small sandwich, but we did not rush back for it. The evening nibbles were good to have a glass of wine or two before going out for the evening and they had my favourite Rose ! The girls in there Donna, Paulette and Silvia were all very pleasant and friendly. One doorman was marvelous with us, so friendly, EDDIE you are a credit to this hotel ! Lastly the Resort Fees - well like everyone else not happy when this started, but it is mostly all hotels in New York so we just have to get used to it. But when staying I rang home to the UK twice, I had laundry done, and we had drinks in the gin bar, so you might as well use it ! So not as bad as we first thought. I would say this is more of a business hotel, with conferences going on.
As a traditional city hotel, the hotel does not feature any specific family offerings. Instead, guests of the InterContinental are provided a residential feel to come back to after a day exploring the city. The hotel is within walking distance of Central Park, Dylan's Candy Bar, Serendipity and Grand Central Station.
Being a city hotel, the InterContinental Barclay doesn't compete with New York's healthy array of restaurant offerings. Instead, it provides its lobby Barclay Restaurant, with a menu of modern, international cuisine. A breakfast buffet is featured daily from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., and then the restaurant provides a la carte dining for lunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 11 p.m.)
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is available at a fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
New York City is a year-round vacation destination. However, the InterContinental is a popular business hotel due its Midtown East location, making weekend deals easier to come by.
The InterContinental Barclay is located just a few blocks from Grand Central Station. Driving in, you will need to take West 38th Street and Park Avenue Viaduct to East 48th Street. Of course, arriving via train or subway is quite easy. Taxis from Newark, La Guardia and JFK will take about 45 minutes.
This is Midtown New York; walking, subway and taxi are all means to get around the city.
For Mom and Dad
The hotel's Gin Parlour, in the lobby, features 80 types of gin and 88 variations of gin drinks as a nod to its Jazz Age origins. The bar is open from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.