Hotel Review: San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina

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.

POSITIVES

Location
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.

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Pool

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.

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Wish You Were Here

Rooms
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.

Room at San Diego Marriott Marina & MarquisSunglasses (Karen Walker dupe!)// Beach Bag

Dining
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.

Poolside Nachos

Pool
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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDonut drink holder (Daiquiri not included)

NEGATIVES
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.

Pool service
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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetA whole cluster of chairs that were saved by non hotel guests. Lame.

Crowds
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 😉

Pedicabs at Marriott San Diego

Daiquiri at the pool

Hotel Margherita: A Hidden Gem on the Amalfi Coast

Can I let you in on a secret? Promise not to tell anyone? I’ve found (well, really my mom found) a hotel on the Amalfi Coast with world class service, Wi-Fi, and even a pool (yes a pool!) and it won’t set you back several thousand Euros. Miracles happen, right?

Hotel Margherita: A Hidden Gem on the Amalfi Coast

When I first dreamed of visiting the famous Italian coastline after seeing countless Gray Malin photos, I thought it would simply be too expensive. Hotels like Santa Caterina in Amalfi or the famous Le Sireneuse in Positano are iconic and luxurious but not attainable for someone like me. Staying somewhere within my price range conjured up images of schlepping it to a dingy B&B with run-down facilities. Since finding Hotel Margherita, however, I think anyone’s dream Amalfi Coast vacation is within reach. Now just don’t tell too many people – I’d like to be able to book a room next year!

Arrival & Check In
From the moment you arrive at Hotel Margherita, you experience their five-star service. Suela and Gennaro greeted us how everyone should be greeted: “Beer or wine?” Check-in was quick,  and they helped carry our bags to our room, all while giving us a tour of the grounds. We definitely appreciated the efficient and warm welcome after a winding drive along the curvy coast (Italian drivers know how to keep you on your toes!).

Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi CoastThe view from the terrace. A stunning start to our stay.

Location
Carved into the cliffs above the Mediterranean, Hotel Margherita is in the picturesque town of Praiano, located ten minutes south of Positano and 25 minutes north of Amalfi. The ideal location, Praiano is close to the action, but without the hustle and bustle and heaving crowds of tourist. You truly feel like you’re staying in an authentic Italian town.

Approaching Praiano by water taxiApproaching Praiano by water taxi, my preferred mode of transportation.

Transportation
While you may not be located steps from the beach or right in the center of town, transportation to these attractions are seamless. A bus to Positano leaves right from in front of the hotel every hour and only costs a couple of euros. Additionally, the hotel offers a free shuttle to the local beach and goes above and beyond to make your transportation stress-free. We went to dinner at Locanda Costa Diva, at a neighboring hotel, and Suela offered a van to take us there without even having to ask her – free of charge. They’re incredible.

Praia BeachThis magical beach is a quick and free shuttle ride away.

Service
Not only is service exceptional when it comes to transportation, but your entire stay at Hotel Margherita will also feel like luxury 5 star service, yet without the hefty price tag. The staff truly surpasses all expectations and do so with a smile on their faces. We had lunch brought to our room, had tours and cars arranged for us, and were always made to feel at home. There’s a reason they have the rare, flawless 5 star rating on TripAdvisor.

Lunch on the balcony at Hotel MargheritaAfter a long, sweaty day of shopping in Positano, the hotel brought this mouth-watering spaghetti to our room for me to enjoy on our balcony – after the restaurant had finished lunch service.

Rooms
Rooms at Hotel Margherita are classic and simple. You aren’t going to get over the top or super expensive decor, but your room will be comfortable, clean and tasteful. Our bathroom was the standout with intricate blue tile-work and a tub with a window overlooking the ocean. Almost all rooms have a balcony, and I would definitely pay any extra fee for an ocean view. It’s truly surreal  to wake up to the glistening Mediterranean Sea every morning. Wifi and Sky satellite TV are included, but you’ll be too busy soaking in the sun or eating more spaghetti with clams than you should to use them.

Hotel Margherita RoomPhoto of a guest room from the hotel website. I dropped the ball and was too entranced by my Amalfi Coast daydream to remember to take a photo of ours!

Dining
The hotel restaurant, Ristorante M’ama! was delicious and situated on a terrace, so you can watch the sun set as you savor your seafood and pasta. We also made daily use of the free breakfast included in your room rate. I feasted on freshly made omelettes, pastries, local fruit and wayyyyyy too much nutella. All topped off with a cappuccino of course! You’ll need that energy if you’re going to jet off to a beach club or Capri. This fresh and filling breakfast is also a money-saving option if you are on a budget – fill up in the morning and avoid an expensive lunch at a tourist trap in one of the neighboring towns.

Processed with VSCO with a1 presetMassive amounts of nutella not pictured. Probably in my stomach.

Amenities – aka that pool!
In addition to the aforementioned restaurant and sun terrace, the real jewel of the hotel grounds is its infinity pool. By no means a lap pool, it’s still so satisfying to dip into after a long day spent on a boat, hiking, or simply after rolling out of bed. It’s saltwater, and there are plenty of sunbeds nearby for your sun worship. My parents stayed at a different hotel on their previous trip to the Amalfi Coast and really regretted not having a pool. It can get scorching during summer holiday season, so you’ll be thankful for the opportunity of a quick refreshing soak.

The pool at Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi CoastThe pool, midday. That’s me! Probably in a daze that I’m actually in that dream of a location.

Hotel Margherita at duskCandy colored skies at dusk. No filter necessary.

Areas for improvement?
The only reason I wouldn’t recommend staying at Hotel Margherita is if you absolutely HAVE to be right on the beach or in the middle of “the action” in Positano or Amalfi. Even then, I think the hotel goes to great lengths to make both of those things very accessible, so it’s still difficult for me to not recommend it to anyone and everyone. Seriously, just stay here. As long as there’s still space for me too 🙂

Where to book: https://www.hotelmargherita.info/bookonline.htm
How to get there: Fly or take a train into Naples. From there, take a bus or hire a car to take you to the hotel. The drive is about 2 hours, and Hotel Margherita helped us book a driver who was friendly, reliable and fairly priced.
Price: About $200/night depending on when you go and what room you book.
Tips: Book as far in advance as possible. The hotel is boutique, so it will fill up during the busy season (July-August are busiest). There is an elevator, so rolling luggage is fine. If you have any questions or need special arrangements, email Suela. She won’t steer you wrong.
Would I go back? In a heartbeat. It’s not a matter of if, but when!

Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi COast

Arrivederla – or see you soon!

Amalfi Coast style:

Check out more of my Italy posts:

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