My family is pretty loyal to Marriott hotels, so when we recently visited San Diego we chose to stay at the Marriott Marquis & Marina in the heart of downtown. Overlooking the harbor, the hotel was overall a pleasant experience, but it wasn’t the best Marriott I’ve ever stayed at nor did it knock it out of the park like the Hotel Margherita. I thought I’d share the full honest lowdown on this property, so you consider this option for your next trip to one of my favorite American cities, San Diego.
If you’re looking for a hotel nestled steps from downtown San Diego attractions, look no further. The biggest highlight of the Marriott, for me, was the location. You can amble over to dinner or drinks in the Gaslamp Quarter, check out the touristy yet cute shopping and restaurants at Seaport Village or simply stroll along the Marina path, taking in the yachts and sunshine. The airport and Pacific Beach are also only 15 minutes or so away, so the location truly can’t be beat.
Reception & Valet Service
Reception and valet were always quick and eager to help, no matter how long the line of customers. They were also very generous with the bottled water, which paired well with my obsession with being hydrated. Check in and check out were seamless.
Our standard guest room was spacious, airy and bright. We had two double beds (two queens would have been preferred, but cest la vie), a desk station, television and a standard bathroom with a sink and shower tub. The piece de resistance was the stunning view of the pool and marina. Unfortunately, we did not have a room with a balcony, so be sure to request one or at least a view.
Food is my number one priority in life (only half joking), so having plenty of varied and delicious dining options is mucho importante. From the Starbucks in the lobby, to the pool bar to several other restaurants on site, Marriott definitely provided the cuisine variety. We tried Roy’s (an always excellent Hawaiian seafood and steak place), Starbucks every morning (duh), and the pool bar, because who doesn’t need to feast on nachos while sunbathing? Like most hotel food, the food was a bit overpriced, so if you’re wanting to stick to a budget, walk to other dining options in the Gaslamp Quarter.
The crowning achievement of the Marriott Marquis has to be its gorgeous pool. It’s truly the centerpiece of the hotel and we spent most of our free time here. There are certain cons regarding the pool that I’ll share below, but purely aesthetically speaking, the pool is fabulous and where you want to be at this hotel. Sip a daiquiri, indulge in aforementioned nachos the bar or just kick back and take in some major people watching while soaking up the rays.
Donut drink holder (Daiquiri not included)
I hate focusing on the negatives in life, but in the spirit of honesty and transparency I need to share the WHOLE picture with you – not just the glam, instagram ready bits. Overall our stay was nice, but these aspects below prevented the visit from being 100% enjoyable.
As I mentioned, the pool is beautiful, but apparently all of San Diego has found out about it. When you arrive at the hotel, reception gives guests a wristband to wear at the pool to prevent gatecrashing. The problem is no one checks wrist bands at the pool or enforces the “guests only” policy. Pool chairs were very hard to come by and the pool itself was extremely overcrowded due to nonguests taking over. The hotel acts like it wants to address the problem with the wristbands, but there is no follow through, as I think the pool staff wants the food and drink dollars. Unfortunately, this sours the experience for paying guests who can’t enjoy the amenities that they are paying for.
A whole cluster of chairs that were saved by non hotel guests. Lame.
Since the hotel is located in convenient downtown and steps away from the Convention Center, this proximity leads to the property’s greatest drawback – the crowds. Forget a quiet, intimate getaway – the hotel was always packed. Multiple conferences stayed there, several weddings took place and hordes of families had their end of summer vacations. Crowds themselves aren’t always bad, but the hotel wasn’t always suited for dealing with them. Elevators had ten minute waits. The club level lounge ran out of food and tables within minutes of meal times. Having service to your room (ex. asking for extra towels or help with the safe) ended up in a 45 minute wait. Pool chairs were endangered species. As a large hotel in a popular area, Marriott needs to tighten up the service to deal with its swarm of customers.
To not end on entirely negative note, I thought I’d share a few more photos of our stay. If you’re staying downtown, the hotel is a decent choice, as long as you’re prepared for those crowds 😉