The Hotel Brand That Fits Us The Best (Spoiler: It’s Not Hilton)

by joeheg

The Numbers don’t lie. I checked, and except for the one year when I was traveling for work and staying at Hiltons (because that’s where work put me, and as long as they were paying, well…), we’ve stayed at Marriott properties more than any other hotel brand every year since 2017.

It’s impossible to separate the hotels from the Marriott Bonvoy program. But if I evaluate the guest experience independent of the sub-par loyalty benefits, we generally have a good time at Marriott Properties. I’m sure most guests care more about how their stay was than if their Suite Night Award upgrade cleared or if they were thanked for their loyalty at check-in.

There are several things to like about Marriott:

Consistency Across Core Brands

a front view of a hotel

If you’re staying at a Courtyard by Marriott, you can be somewhat confident about what you’ll get. Sure, there are some below-average outliers, but there are also some charming Courtyards out there.

We’ve found the same with the Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn brands.

Interesting Hotels In Their Portfolio

Marriott has 30 different brands under its umbrella, so there will be some variance between the types of hotels. I’ve already said that we like the consistency of some brands. But the different hotels offered in the Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels and Tribute Hotels make stays special. From small boutique properties like The Epicurean in Tampa, FL, to iconic locations in London’s St. Pancras or the amazing Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, Austria, all of them are part of the Marriott Family.

a long shot of a building

We Even Like Their Quirky Brands

You have to credit Marriott for taking big swings with new brands. Despite not being their core demographic, we liked our stay at the Moxy in Phoenix but can can see how it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

a building with palm trees and a sign

The same goes for our stays at Element and AC Hotels. While we might not be their target market, we liked both brands enough to stay there again. The only brand we’re avoiding is W Hotels, as our stays haven’t been great.

Free Nights

I can’t avoid the fact that we have 4 Marriott co-brand credit cards that each award a free night certificate on your account anniversary. So that’s at least 4 nights at Marriott hotels every year. In addition, we get Marriott Bonvoy points when readers use our links to sign up for credit cards.

But I look at it this way. If I hated our stays at Marriott Hotels, I wouldn’t keep the credit cards for the free nights.

Final Thoughts

When I think about our stays at Marriott Hotels, I’m not thinking about getting Bonvoyed. Instead, I remember our stays at the Westin Tokyo and the Le Meriden in Frankfurt.

We have had many stays that were average, which is all we are looking for. We have had a few bad stays, but that can happen with any hotel brand.

I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses. I’m aware of the issues that people have had with Marriott and the difficulty of getting a resolution when things go wrong.

I’m looking at our hotel stays and wondering if it’s worth sticking with Marriott. We’d love to switch to Hyatt, but they still don’t have enough properties when traveling outside the big cities. I could see us splitting our stays between the two brands, as I think that’s the best solution to our first-world problem.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian December 10, 2022 - 3:20 am

I think you give a pretty fair view of things given your wants and needs. For myself, the perpetually eroding benefits at Marriott brands has really killed off my ardor and if the rumor mill is correct we’re all going to get Bonvoyed huge next year. That really pushes Marriott from second place to third behind Hilton. As a Titanium I value free full breakfast at all hotels and lounge access highly and Marriott is moving in the opposite direction. If loyalty becomes irrelevant then is a better bet. Meanwhile Hyatt is pretty great.

JohnB December 10, 2022 - 5:02 pm

I try to avoid Marriott. They are always more expensive than other hotel brands.

I have one card that was the Amex SPG CC, which now gives a free night. Back many years ago, I worked for Amex. Marriott was only to be booked if the client requested a certain property. Marriott was slow to pay commissions. The only reason there are Amex Bonvoy cards is because of the merger. Which I never thought I would see Amex be friendly towards Marriott.

In my recent career, I worked for large shipping company. They avoided Marriott because Marriotts were always more expensive than other chains. Flight crews had preferences for certain Marriott hotels and those properties had annual contracted rates. The SkyCity Marriott in Hong Kong is a good example. But the company preferred SPG, Hilton and IHG properties. The company did not even have a contract with Marriott until after the merger. I know because we had no corporate Marriott codes until 2018.

I always find that Marriott cheaps out on everything. If Marriott can find a way to cut a cost they will do it. I find that their phone customer service agents are idiots. Just as bad as IHG. In the hotel industry, there is a race to the bottom. Marriott seems to want to win this race.

Now Hyatt knows they’re not competitive on locations. So they try harder by offering more benefits, etc. Hyatts are also rather expensive. But in my opinion, I’d rather pay more at a Hyatt than a Marriott.

lars February 25, 2024 - 11:35 am

Marriott has the footprint, the variety of brands/experiences, and consistency that others lack. I get that their elite bennies are fairly weak (be that in programmatic offering or actual execution), but as a primary leisure traveler who doesn’t feel owed anything on account of a bunch of nights/year, it just boils down to baseline experience for me. For the time being, Marriott edges the rest out for me.


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