NY/NJ travel: turbo wedding hygiene edition
November 8, 2018 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Armeowda and I are flying into New York for a wedding in mid-December. His obligations the day before will not allow for an early departure, ergo: red-eye! We’ll leave late the night before, and touch down at JFK around 6 AM the day of the wedding. We’ll need to reach Metuchen by high noon. Complication: somewhere in there, we want a chance to shower, primp, and change clothes. Is this doable?

Is this even remotely realistic? If so, is our best strategy?

Should we...
  • Find a hotel near the wedding site and ask about early-and-we-mean-EARLY check-in?
  • Find a hotel with day rooms (probably not as close to the wedding site)?
  • Find a gym somewhere between JFK and Metuchen, buy day passes, and freshen up there?
  • While still airside, transfer to a terminal with a lounge that has showers, and buy day passes there?
  • ...Something else I haven’t thought of?

We’ll probably be renting a car, but we’re amenable to other modes of ground transport for all or part of the trip. We don’t especially want to do an AirBnB, but even less do we want to rely on dry shampoo/baby wipes in a public washroom.

Our worst-case scenario is getting ourselves fresh-as-daisies right before the flight and wearing our wedding-guest finery on the plane. This is truly our least-preferred option, because we are both fine-haired, grease-prone people, and we accumulate Traveler’s Funk rapidly. Regardless of precautions taken, I will inevitably stagger off that plane looking like early-‘90s Dave Pirner...and I’m a lady! The relatives hosting the wedding are incidentally VERY camera-happy, and I do not want to be photographed for posterity in that condition.

So, if you know the area, can you help us formulate a plan? Do you know of any specific gyms, hotels, lounges, or other facilities we could access on the way, and still be on time to the ceremony? Bonus points for options with hairdryers.

We also welcome any other tips you have for this naïvely-planned mission. Thanks!
posted by armeowda to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unless you definitely need a car, I'd suggest you strongly consider taking the LIRR -- as long as the wedding venue is reasonably close to the station, it's likely going to be way less stress than renting a car and wrestling with NY traffic. It's an easy trip when you're coming from JFK, because the AirTrain hooks right into the Jamaica LIRR station (not seamless, you'll probably have to transfer at Penn, but still easier than a car rental). You can check schedules here to see if the train will get you there with ease on your specific travel date -- early morning service might be a bit spotty if it's a weekend.
posted by halation at 4:05 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Will you be staying the night at a hotel or someplace overnight the day of the wedding? I was kind of assuming it wasn't a "fly in, attend wedding, depart immediately" trip-- if so, can't you book the night before as well and let the hotel know? It seems unlikely that the hotel would object to letting you pay for a room that you wouldn't be using for the whole night, and if you're staying there after the wedding too that would be easy and straightforward.
posted by Kpele at 4:07 PM on November 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

Do you have any friends or family staying at a nearby hotel who will let you use their hotel shower?
posted by jeather at 4:09 PM on November 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

What airline are you flying? You may be able to buy a day pass to their lounge to use on arrival. You'd have to call to make sure they have showers at JFK in any case.

There's bound to be a variety of gyms near Penn Station if you go the LIRR route (there's a Planet Fitness on 35th between 7th and 8th and I think a NYSC on 7th). Calling around is bound to find you one that will sell you a day pass. (Or hell, join Planet Fitness for $10 and cancel when you get home.)
posted by hoyland at 4:14 PM on November 8, 2018

Do you have a gym or JCC type memberships that could transfer to a nearby gym with a locker room etc?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:16 PM on November 8, 2018

Reserve a room at any hotel near JFK for the day before. So instead of checking in at 3 pm of your paid-for day, you'll be checking in at 7 am. Take a nap and a shower and check out by noon. (Obviously ask first if you can do this.)
posted by nantucket at 4:16 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding that you should just book an additional night at a hotel near the wedding (I'm assuming you're staying near the wedding at least one night) - a guarantee of being able to check in early and clean up is probably worth the additional cost. Just call ahead so they dont mark you as a no-show. There's a chance you might be able to check in early without booking the additional night (I've done this plenty of times very early - like before 7am) but it's obviously a gamble, personally I wouldn't risk it.

I'm not that familiar with JFK, but I think any day pass options would depend on what airline you're on and which terminal you fly into. The only option I see Googling is the Airspace Lounge in Terminal 5, but you might not be able to access it unless you're arriving into that terminal. Personally, I'd go with the hotel.
posted by photo guy at 4:26 PM on November 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

I recently went to a wedding and got a professional blow out the day of. Highly recommended.
posted by bleep at 4:40 PM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Right down the road in Edison, there's a Korean spa called Island Spa and Sauna. They're open 24 hours a day Sat and Sun and almost 24 hours the rest of the week. They charge $40 admission and you can use the showers, locker rooms, sauna, hot tubs, whatever you want. I think they usually have a Groupon going too, for reduced admission.

They also have lots of napping areas if you need :)

It's about a 10-15 minute ride into Metuchen.

I would suggest renting a car to get around.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:46 PM on November 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

It is totally a Done Thing to rent a hotel room overnight so you can check in in the morning. Do call and leave a note on the reservation that you're coming in the morning, though, just to avoid any misunderstandings.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:53 PM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I strongly recommend you take care of your freshening/napping/showering needs in NJ, not near JFK. Why? A couple reasons.

First, possibly I'm biased, but I find the whole JFK area to be a depressing mishmash of industrial landscapes and blighted neighborhoods (hello, Howard Beach, I'm looking at you). The roads are in terrible shape, and it's difficult to navigate around.

Second, six hours between landing and wedding time is not that big of a window. If your flight is late, or if there is any problem getting off the plane or getting your luggage, your anticipated time in a hotel shower will be used up. Depending on whether you are arriving on a weekday or weekend morning, the traffic will be horrid or merely busy. (Google maps puts drive time at around 1:15 via the Belt/SI, but it's NYC, so your YMMV.)

So rent a car and drive out to NJ and either find a hotel out there that can let you check in early, or prevail on a friend in the wedding party to let you use their room while they are at breakfast. If at all possible, get your hands on a sleeping aid so that you can get something resembling rest on the flight. But yes, I realize some people can't sleep on a plane [waves]

Do not, REPEAT DO NOT, take LIRR/NJ Transit, especially if arriving on a weekday. If there is any problem with LIRR and/or NJ Transit, your ability to get out to the wedding on time will be greatly hampered.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:00 PM on November 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

Nthing get your room near the wedding for an extra evening. You don't have a ton of time, don't waste it messing around with gyms and airport lounges.
I suggest renting a car so that you get to Metuchen as quickly as possible, maximizing the time you have to rest and then shower and ready for the wedding.
LIRR/NJ Transit may not run as frequently that early on the weekends and you still would have to get an uber or sketchy NJ taxi from the LIRR station to the hotel.
Getting dressed prior to arriving in NJ seems like a recipe for disaster--arriving crumpled, tired and exhausted from hauling suitcases on public transportation while wearing dress clothes.
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 6:25 AM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Update: the hotel couldn’t check us in quite early enough; Island Spa was indeed the perfect place for a hygiene refresh and a much-needed nap. Thanks, rachaelfaith!
posted by armeowda at 9:55 PM on December 19, 2018

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