In the last 3 years, I’ve stayed at over 150 different properties within pretty much all of the hotel brands and category rankings that Marriott offers. Today I’m sharing some of the best and worst Marriott hotels I’ve stayed in.
I would like to take a moment to preface this final blog in my 4 part Marriott series by saying that I absolutely do consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to Marriott hotels.
To wrap this series up, I’m going to be sharing some more of my favorite hotels that I’ve recently stayed at. However, unlike the last blog, I’ll be sharing some of my not-so-favorite hotels with you too.
It wouldn’t be Real Girl Review without “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, now would it? 😉
If you missed the other blogs in this Marriott series, I’ve shared…
- Part 1: Marriott Bonvoy Membership: A Real Girl’s Guide to Marriott Hotels and Resorts
The perks of signing up for a free Marriott Bonvoy membership,
- Part 2: How to Leverage Marriott Points and Miles with Marriott Partners
How to earn points toward future free stays and leverage travel rewards with the cruises, airlines, restaurants Marriott has reciprocal agreements with
- Part 3: Marriott Hotel Reviews: Some Island Favorites and a Little Cajun In-Between
Some of my recent favorite Marriott hotel experiences and some tips I’ve learned from staying in hotels and traveling 170+ days/yr. the last several years
Hope you’re ready for Part 4!
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Before we dive into any stories or reviews, I thought you should know… As of this posting, the following blog posts are not sponsored. Any products or services reviewed were paid for out of my own pocket unless otherwise noted.
When I Stay at a B&B vs. When I Stay at a Marriott
If you’re like me, you want to support the little guy. And when I’m in a small town, I do. I’ll stay at a Bed and Breakfast.
But, when I’m traveling and want an elevation of services and amenities, I usually go with a Marriott property because I’ve found them to be really consistent and I like knowing what to expect.
Not to mention, I earn rewards just for being a member. So, it’s a win win. 😉
That said, if you’re only riding the small business train, this blog is not for you. However, I do have other blogs supporting small businesses if you’re interested. 😊
Earn Double Points & Double Elite Nights
Marriott has an amazing promotion going on right now which I’m already taking advantage of! From now till April 27, 2021, you can earn double points & double Elite Night Credits on each stay of at least two nights. There are no earning limits!
To participate, sign up for Marriott Bonvoy™ here and register for the promotion before booking your stay. Your bonus points can be redeemed for free nights, gift cards, and more!
Registration ends April 13, 2021
Marriott is Not Just For Business Travelers
I don’t know about you, but I for one, am very influenced by social media and get a lot of ideas for trips, foodie finds, and hotels from other peoples’ posts.
I also love sharing the hotels I’ve found and give people travel ideas! Sometimes you don’t know a place until you discover it online, right?!
The other day, I posted a hotel I had just stayed at and someone commented, “I always assumed Marriotts were just business hotels”.
But, she’s not alone. It always amazes me how many people still think this. Which is why I did this Marriott series to begin with.
Contrary to popular belief, Marriott is not just for business travelers.
Don’t get me wrong, they have some great business hotels too which I’ll share later. However, Marriott is so much more and I love all their different hotel personalities. A big reason why I’ve been so loyal to them.
Gotta Love Options
Want to experience the unique flavor of a city in someone’s home or staying somewhere longer term? Marriott Home and Villas gives Airbnb a run for their money. Thank goodness, because a lot of us are fed up with them. Pick a place that fits your personality and budget. Explore the international destinations here!
Marriott Has a Hotel For Every Type of Traveler
One of the things I love about Marriott is that not only can you earn points just for being a member, but you can do so while staying at the right hotel for you. This means you don’t ever have to sacrifice what’s important to you whether that’s style, a good price, or comfort.
When I travel, there is no consistency in the types of hotels I stay at. Sometimes, I want something clean and basic and other times, something a bit more glam or unique! Depends on where I’m traveling to and what mood I’m in! 😉
I bet you’ve stayed at a Marriott without even knowing it! 😉
Truthfully, it wasn’t until I became a Marriott Bonvoy member and started staying with them more and more that I learned all this stuff. I’m still surprised whenever I find a really cute boutique hotel and discover that it’s a Marriott.
Gotta hand it to Marriott. They know what they’re doing. There’s a reason they’re the largest hotel company. They continue to blow up the industry with one acquisition after another from Residence Inn’ in 87 to most recently, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, giving them a grand total of 8 acquisitions.
But they’re not settling down any time soon. Hello, have you ever played Monopoly? They’re on track to acquire their 9th company, Welk Resorts, one of the largest independent timeshare companies in North America.
Let’s Talk About the Best and Worst Marriott Hotels I’ve Stayed In
Alright, are you ready? Here’s the good stuff…my favorite and not so favorite hotels. Which were a “BOOM” and which were a “BUST”? You’ll just have to read on to find out!
I’ll do separate blogs and go into more detail about my adventures on each trip later! This is just a quick breakdown.
Hotels That Were a Boom
JW Marriott Parq Vancouver BC
This Vancouver trip was one of my favorite trips of all time.
The activities and hotel definitely had a lot to do with it. Everyday was like a new adventure! I can’t wait to go into more detail in a separate blog.
JW properties are fantastic! Each of them have character and are usually unique to the city they’re in. I’ve stayed at several different ones and have loved them all.
And JW Marriott Parq was no different! Was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Since my trip, the hotel has changed from a Marriott Category 6 to a 7. Although the value was technically better then, I still highly recommend it.
Some things that stood out to me in the hotel were the rooms, spa, casino, and the location, which was very conveniently located to a lot of the activities we’d be doing.
Our Stay at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver
We used a suite voucher, a nice perk of being a Marriott Bonvoy member.
The suite was lovely. It had a very clean, minimalistic interior yet it was sleek and luxurious. I really enjoyed the aesthetic.
The rest of the hotel was squeaky clean, spacious, inviting as well. And the lobby somehow always managed to smell amazing.
Amenities such as the gym, pool, and spa, and dining options were great.
I’m so glad we went with this Marriott property. It was such a lovely stay. 😊
What I liked about JW Marriott Parq Vancouver
Friendly Customer Service
(then again, Canadians are pretty nice on a regular day)
I really liked our suite. Modern yet elegant with a great view- located right above BC Place so our room was illuminated every night from their pretty lights.
Welcome Gift Waiting for us Upon Our Arrival
The Concierge Lounge
Complimentary access was granted with the Marriott Bonvoy membership Ambassador level. Check to see if your status gets you access here.
I must say, this was one of my favorite lounges of any Marriott hotel I’ve stayed in. (And I’ve stayed at hundreds).
Started off each day having breakfast here and it was like walking into a smorgasbord every morning. Their selection was amazing. I loved it!
They also had snacks and drinks all throughout the day as well, even fresh squeezed juices conveniently bottled to take on adventures in the city and named after attractions nearby which I was thought was a cute touch. (i.e. Grouse Mountain)
Excellent Room Service
They Accept Suite Vouchers
(only works if there’s suite availability)
I was scratched by accident by the massage therapist and they had the appropriate action to ensure I was comfortable for the rest of my stay. This to me is the difference between good customer service and bad customer service. Issues arise all the time, it happens. What matters most is how they take care of it. As long as it’s not life or death, it’s no big deal. They handled the incident well.
Other than that, the spa was relaxing and had great views of the city. The couples massage room was also very nice. They had amenities (hot tub, gym,
A yummy restaurant in the hotel. We ended up eating here like 5x, that’s how much we loved it.
What I Didn’t Like about JW Marriott Parq Vancouver
As I mentioned in Part 3 of this Marriott series, Ambassador Service didn’t mean anything here.
Even after going to the designated point of contact to try to book a soccer game. The stadium’s seating arrangements on were displayed via computer but didn’t do much else. We still had to book the tickets ourselves.
Honestly, other than that, no complaints about the hotel. I absolutely loved our stay and would definitely go back!
Real Girl Review Tip: Before Booking Your Hotel
Remember, before booking a Marriott property, do a quick online search for cheaper rates. (i.e. Hotels.com, ) Marriott offers the best rate guarantee but, you have to book with them directly which you can do here.
If you find a cheaper rate elsewhere for the same hotel, room type, and dates within 24 hours of making your reservation and you’re approved, you qualify for Marriott’s price match guarantee, plus an additional 25% discount off your stay OR 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. It’s up to you. Fill out the claim form here.
EMC2, Chicago, Autograph Collection
If you’re into unique hotel finds, you’ll really like the EMC2 in Chicago. What a hidden gem! On the outside, it almost seems like a cool museum or something… all shiny and edgy.
Let me just say again, I LOVE Autograph Collection hotels. They’re known for having a unique boutiquey vibe in the Marriott family and each hotel has its own personality that makes it special.
For EMC2 , it’s the vibe. The hotel combines art and science to give a really cool aesthetic.
Our Stay at the EMC2 Chicago
I really liked our hotel room. It was fun and eclectic yet modern and sleek as well. The amenities were great. The bathroom had Korres bath products which was nice.
The hotel also has a restaurant & bar called The Albert (presumably named after Einstein himself, perhaps the inspiration for the hotel’s wacky flavor?) It fits right in with the theme of the hotel.
They have megaphones in the room as speakers and a glass shower in the center of the room. They even have robots bring you your towels… I mean c’mon, if that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!
It’s very odd, “out there”, and I love it!
What I Liked About My Stay at EMC2
Did I mention ROBOTS that deliver amenities to your room?! How cool is that?!
The Archive Lounge
Library Like Setting Where You Can Chill Out or DP Business
They have live performances sometimes too.
Nice Bathroom Amenities
Restaurant Downstairs: The Albert
Take a look at the neighborhood’s attractions here.
What I Didn’t Like About EMC2
If you’re staying with someone other than your significant other, this “peekaboo” shower might be a bit awkward for you as the only thing that separates shower from bed is a curtain
Not as Functional
Fun, but not as functional as other hotels (depends on what you’re going for)
Only 1 restaurant option
Real Girl Review Tip: Credit Card Holds 💳
Picture this. You’re on vacation. You get up to the counter to check-in at your hotel and low & behold.. a $500 hold for incidentals?! Bu-bu-but.. between lunch and the pricey airport cab on the way to the hotel, you’re already racking up a heck of a lot of charges and your vacay hasn’t even started!
And now, you can’t check in because you don’t have enough. Or, maybe your cc doesn’t allow you to charge the amount needed.
How to avoid this? Call the hotel before booking. There is no consistency in the cc holds that Marriott hotels place.
Take the 2 different Courtyards I stayed at on a recent road trip. They were in the same Marriott category (discussed in Part 1) yet, 2 different amounts. In Rocky Mount, NC, Marriott put a $20 hold yet, $130 in Hilton Head, SC, both.
We often don’t think of putting money aside for cc holds. Don’t be on vacay and find out that you don’t have enough.
Chicago Marriott Downtown, Magnificent Mile
The last hotel was the Chicago Marriott Downtown hotel. This one is a business hotel.
It’s sleek, modern, clean, stylish, and smells amazing always. Come to think of it.. what Marriott property doesn’t? 🤔
Prior to Covid I was a frequent visitor to Chicago as my partner was there weekly. I was able to experience a lot of different Marriott properties. This being one of my favorites.
It’s Downtown Chicago which has a lot of great foodie finds and fun things to do!
Our Stay at the Chicago Marriott Downtown
This is the hotel for you if you’ll be working. Or even if you just want a reliable hotel. I’ve stayed here multiple times and each time was always very comfortable.
There’s several areas to sit and work or take a business call.. either in the lounge or downstairs in the spacious lobby.
The rooms are pretty basic.. nothing fancy. I’ve stayed in their larger rooms and smaller rooms. Great views of city, big bed, modern vibe.
What I Liked About Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
Massive Gym / Facilities
Yoga / Pilates / Spin room as well as a separate full workout equipment room. Kind of military, factory style.
Delicious Complimentary Breakfast for Marriott Bonvoy Members of Certain Status
(ask in advance)
Conveniently Located on Magnificent Mile
With lots of nearby attractions
The bar downstairs is so stylish and swanky, great for cocktails or lounging.
Offers “Lunch To Go”
(room service option in containers, right outside your door)
Lots of Places to Set Up a Computer and Work
What I Didn’t Like About Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
“No frill” Rooms
Very little character.
Real Girl Review Tip: “Can I Get You Anything?
Marriott allows you to request services in advance but I’ve stayed at hundreds of their properties and I’ve only had this feature work a handful of times. Most of the time, I still have to request extra towels after I arrive. Make a habit of ordering everything you need (extra pillows, towels, etc.) right after you check-in.
Residence Inn Orlando at Millenia
One of the nicer Residence Inns. The Residence Inn Orlando at Millenia is great option for business travelers but also families on a budget but want to travel in style! It’s located right around the corner from Islands of Adventure.
It’s basically the convenience of a hotel (customer service, housekeeping) but with at home amenities, minus the cleaning fee of Airbnb.
Our Stay at the Residence Inn Orlando at Millenia
I stayed here for a week with my sister. We had just stayed at a Disney resort and went to Disney World. Then decided to go to Universal Studios, so this was convenient for us. We were surprised to find it was exactly like living in an apartment which made it a very comfortable stay for us. We chose to eat out a lot but were still able to cook meals in the room’s kitchen which was nice. Being able to do our laundry was also a huge bonus!
What I Liked About Residence Inn Orlando at Millenia
Extended Stay, Apartment Style with Full Kitchen
(dish washer, fridge, microwave, stove, coffee pot)
Loved Room 570
Wide Desk Area
(great for an in home office)
Hotel Offers Grocery Shopping Service
(great for busy working professionals)
(regardless of status)
Great Pool w/ Outdoor Lounge Area and Bar
Across from Millenia Mall
(high end, upscale w/ lots of stores & dining options)
Conveniently Located Near Universal Studios
Free High Speed Wifi
What I Didn’t Like About Residence Inn Orlando at Millenia
Had to Change Rooms
Loud guests next door. Took a while for them to change our room. Also took much longer than usual to get extra towels we asked for. Guy at front desk forgot, had to call again.
Expected to have a separate room w/ 2 beds vs. 1 big suite like previous Residence Inn I stayed at.
Marriott Series Review: What Did We Learn?
Remember, every dollar spent on hotels, car rentals, restaurants, events, cruises, and airlines, that Marriott has reciprocal agreements with translates into even more points which means more free nights, special status, and great perks for you! And it only takes a few minutes…
Whether you’re a frequent hotel guest or not, sticking to one hotel loyalty program is amazing and has huge benefits! The great thing is that it doesn’t cost you anything extra to sign up so head on over to Marriott Bonvoy and start earning points for your hotel stays!
London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
Located in the Mayfair district of London, every bit of this boutique hotel in London exudes 5 star luxury from the moment you step foot into the hotel.
Our Stay the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
On this London trip, I was to attend a gala, I would be visiting with a good friend of mine who would be staying with me. Since it was such a formal affair, I wanted something a bit more refined! And that’s exactly what I got!
And boy did it cost me quite the pretty penny too! Luckily, I was able to earn points for my stay as it is a Marriott property.
What I Liked About London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
Lovely breakfast, complimentary (not sure if it’s only for Marriott Bonvoy members)
Staff was very friendly and helped me to store my bags downstairs until room was ready.
24/7 Room Service
Very Sophisticated, Stylish Hotel
Loved the style of my room, elegant yet cozy. Also liked bidet in bathroom. Wish more American hotels had them. Take a peak at all the rooms here.
Great Views of Hyde Park
Luxurious Atmosphere & Amenities
Including heated indoor pool.
Elaborate Health & Wellness Center
(gym, pool, steam rooms, spa treatments)
Lanes of London
Great restaurant & bar located in the hotel. I dined here a couple times. They had a harp player which made the meal even more delightful! They also have Afternoon Tea.. not surprising, it’s London after all. 😉
They arranged a car service for me to the airport.
Interested in having your wedding here? Check this out
What I Didn’t Like About London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
One day, after housekeeping “cleaned” my room, I found a used tissue and hairs in the bed. It was as if they put new bedding on but the sheets were used.
Ready to book your next trip?
Discover a new Marriott hotel anywhere in the world!
Where will you go next? Explore here.
Hotels That Were a Bust
Okay, so… I’ve shared my recent favorite hotels with you. Now it’s time to share my not so favorite hotels I’ve stayed at recently.
Moxy NYC Times Square
Can’t Believe the Moxy in Time Squares is a Category 6 hotel. I’ve had far more comfortable stays from hotels that were Category 5 and below. (last hotel I listed is a perfect example)
After seeing this adorable rooftop bar & lounge, Magic Hour on Tik Tok, I just couldn’t resist! I was looking for a hotel so staying there seemed convenient. I was like alright, let’s do this!
Nah ah.. bad idea. Ended up being the worst Marriott I’ve ever stayed at. Of all the hotels I could have chosen in NYC! 🙄
Luckily, I was only staying for one night to have oral surgery in the city and was pretty much passed out for most of the stay.. 😆 Let’s just say, when I finally woke up after my heavy, meds induced slumber, I realized where I was and couldn’t wait to leave.
Moxy tries so hard to appeal to the young and hip crowd but in my opinion, they missed the hotel experience completely. Or, maybe it’s just me. Afterall, I’m a Millennial, what do I know?
It’s the kinda hotel that let’s you do everything yourself and leaves you alone.. Which can be a good thing if you want to be independent but then, you have to ask yourself why it’s the same price as hotels that do it all for you and have better quality rooms, amenities and 24/7 service??
Just doesn’t make sense to me. You may as well stay at a friend’s place.
I would say that if you are a self sufficient, “no frills” kinda person, or.. a hipster, then yeah, this is for you. You’d probably appreciate the nonsense I went through. Maybe you’d find it ironic.
Our Stay at the Moxy Times Square
When we first arrived, getting into the hotel was confusing, check in was long and inconvenient, the room was cramped and lacking privacy. Overall, it’s not what I expected.
Some friends of mine who have stayed at this hotel in other locations have also identified with my experience. I guess that’s just Moxy’s M.O.
Unlike the other hotel experiences I’ve shared in this blog, the “cons” will more than likely outweigh the “pros”. So, I’ll start with those first.
What I Didn’t Like About Moxy NYC Times Square
None of the Typical Hotel Conveniences or Amenities You’d Come to Expect
- no bell hop
- no valet
- no parking, parking garage 100 m away right next to hotel. You can unload first and then park car and walk to hotel
- Restaurant closed due to COVID
- no amenities
Step Up From a Hostel
And I haven’t been to one but can imagine this is what it’d be like.
Cute concept, crappy hotel. Very chill.. like too chill. Bare minumum.. not very welcoming atmosphere.
My first thought was, “It’s like a sleepy house party.” Not slagging off hostels but when you pay more money, you expect better results, no?
No Bell Hop
No employee standing near entrance to assist you with bags, answer questions, or direct you. Hard to tell who works there and who is a guest. They’re dressed the same. I actually mistook a guest outside as bell hop.. I was embarrassed.
Hotel Entrance Confusing AF
The entrance couldn’t have been less obvious, especially at night. The revolving door was shut down.
After standing outside with my luggage for literally 10 minutes, trying to figure out where the entrance was, I asked the guy standing outside (who I assumed was an employee) if there was bell hop or at least a luggage cart I could use.
The friendly stranger said he didn’t work there. But, saw I was struggling to find an entrance and said that I needed a room key. Which is a catch 22 if you ask me.. I didn’t even check in yet, how could I have a room key?
I ended up walking in with him when his buddies let him in.
The next day, I saw a pretty beaten up paper sign to the far right of the building’s entrance. Then, you have to wait for someone to buzz you in.. That is, if there’s even someone to let you in..
Awful Check In Experience
Check in experience was no easier. After getting in the door, I looked around and was like who works here?
It looked more like a security check in counter at an corporate office building than a hotel check in counter.
After asking if I was in the right place, they had me scan a QR code on a paper on the wall. Then, had me stand there and answer (literally) 8 pages of COVID questions.
It would make more sense for them to have you complete that questionnaire before you arrive. You’re standing next to people in line doing this, it defeats the whole point of them taking COVID safety measures in the first place.
NOTE: After my stay, I kept getting calls from either NYPD or NY State about my hotel stay in NYC. I wouldn’t recommend traveling there during pandemic to avoid the hassle.
It’s one of those elevators where you have to scan your room key before you enter then, select your floor level from the touch screen. It took me not one, not two, but three tries. It took me an average of 8 minutes each time.. annoying.
When you finally arrive on your floor, it’s like a maze trying to squeeze through the tight hallway and find your room from the elevator and the elevator from your room.
The rooms are so weirdly tucked into odd directions and angles.
Buddymoon Bunk Bed Package. Twin Quad, Guest room, 4 Twin/Single Bed(s) bunk
- My sister and I thought it’d be cool to bunk together. It was a very uncomfortable sleep and the pillows were not comfy.
- When I walked in, I instantly felt claustrophobic. Reminded me of ROW NYC (not a good thing). Tables and chairs folded on the wall for a dining room corner.
- Shower experience even more uncomfortable. No wall, just see-through glass. It’s awkward, especially if you’re staying with someone else other than your bae. Gives creepy “Peeping Tom” vibes.
What I Liked About Moxy NYC Times Square
Rooftop Bar :Magic Hour
Cool Bathroom… like NYC subway
Needless to say, I won’t stay at MOXY again. I guess I don’t have moxy. 😋
I don’t mean to give you a bad impression of New York hotels. I’ve stayed at some great ones and some not-so-great ones. It’s just a coincidence that the ones I’m mentioning in this blog all made the “Bust” list. Next time I’ll share some good NYC hotel finds. 😉
Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek
My partner and I were on a Pacific Northwest Trip which took us to Salt Lake City. But, as we later learned, looks can be deceiving.
On the Marriott website, SLC Downtown seemed like a nice pick. That is, until we checked into Salt Lake Marriott at City Creek and went to our room. We discovered that it was everything but.
Our Stay at Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek
I had a Lupus flare up which made me pretty much bed ridden for most of our stay. It would have been nice to have a nicer hotel experience.
The concierge lounge was sub par. The room outdated and not anything like the pictures. We ended up changing rooms midstay.
What I Liked About Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek
Room had a nice view of Wasatch Mountains, City Creek Center and Temple Square
What I Didn’t Like About Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek
Had to Change Rooms
Old Room Interior
Nothing Special About This Property
Lounge Wasn’t Great
If you want to stay at a Marriott, a better alternative would be Salt Lake City Marriott City Center
Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel
There is so little I recall about the Sheraton Times Square hotel except negative things so I’ll keep it short. It’s no wonder they were given a 3.6 / 5 rating on Marriott’s site.
Located in Time Square
We didn’t have a good experience with booking a comedy show with the concierge. Upon arriving at the show, we were told that the tickets were fake. So, we had to pay for tickets again. This led to a whole dispute with the hotel to give us a refund.
Overall atmosphere was blah.
So, there you have it! My most recent hotel stays… The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And just like that, we’ve wrapped up this Marriott series!
If there’s anything you took away from my recent Marriott blogs, I hope that it’s that you don’t have to travel 170+ days/yr to take advantage of great deals and travel rewards and that you don’t have to be a business traveler to enjoy Marriott hotels.
Being that they have the most properties of any hotel brand (over 7,000), Marriott is for anyone and everyone no matter what your budget, style, or travel preference is! They don’t discriminate. That’s why I’ve been so loyal to them over the years and will continue to share my latest hotel finds with you! 😊
What has been your worst hotel experience? What has been your best hotel experience? Tell me in the comments below!
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Always keep it real…