I want to thank PZ for taking the time to send this in! As always, we love hearing from you guys and if you have a hotel review you want to share send it in!
The Marriott Marquis and Marina
For organisation’s sake, I’ll break down my review of the hotel into the following categories:
1) Location 4.5/5
There are two main hotels on either end of the convention centre, and the Marriott is one of them – the other being the Hilton Bayfront. While the Hilton Bayfront is nearer to Hall H where some of the most popular panels are held (and queues tend to form the night before!), the Marriott is only a brisk walk farther down on the other end of the convention centre. Either way, being right next to the convention centre means getting to the exhibit hall is a matter of minutes, which is awesome if you’re keen on early bird exclusives, the WB lottery for autographs, or getting your swag on.
If you’re a cosplayer, getting a room right next to the con centre is crucial – you can easily pop in and out of your room to freshen up, check on your costume or change. The con toilets are a nightmare especially if you’re wearing something elaborate and bulky so being able to touch up your make up or redo your wig in the comfort of the hotel bathroom is a godsend.
Even if you’re not cosplaying, you probably won’t want to be bogged down by all your nifty purchases and swag. Dropping them off at your room at intervals will ensure a breezy, convenient experience and you save precious time doing so because the Marriott is practically next door.
While the Marriott is not within the Gaslamp district, rest assured that getting to restaurants, bars and clubs on foot won’t be like a journey to Mordor. There are many pedestrian crossings available, as well as SDCC-themed pedicabs everywhere that are reasonable priced. Walking back to the hotel from a hard night of partying at 3am is safe and only a couple of blocks away.
2) The Room 4.5/5
The rooms are generally clean, well presented and spacious. The Marriott comprises two towers – the North Tower (with balconies) and the South Tower (without balconies, and where I stayed in).
I had a twin room which offered a lovely view of the pool. The beds are huge and extremely comfortable with a generous helping of pillows. There is a closet and set of drawers, a minifridge and writing desk with extra chairs. You can easily fit 4 people in a twin room (as well as gigantic luggage!) and still have ample walking space, which is a bonus.
The bathroom is clean, well maintained and not cramped. Toiletries are well-stocked although we preferred to use our own.
3) Service 4/5
The hotel staff are generally friendly and helpful. Kudos to them for keeping a cool head and delivering efficient service even during Con season, which is understandably Hell Week for all those working in the service industry. The reception is 24 hours and one of the counter staff was very thorough and patient in helping me access the hotel wifi on my laptop at four in the morning.
Our room was impeccably tidied every morning when we left for panels/breakfast. We were especially impressed because it must have been challenging for the cleaning staff to maintain a fully booked hotel (assuming that some rooms played host to more than 5-6 guests at a time!) as well as my terribly messy roommate. Sidenote: It is advisable to leave a nice tip every day to thank them for their hard work!
4) Facilities, Food and Amenities 3.5/5
We enjoyed a marvellous view of the pool but did not have the time to use it. Nevertheless, it wasn’t crowded or blocked off for private parties unlike the one at the Hard Rock Hotel.
There is a Gift Shop that also serves as a convenience store, the items are not morbidly priced and it is great for picking up emergency toiletries or stationery and dashing back to the convention centre (which is what we had to do sometimes)!
There is also a Hertz rental car office and car park, although parking is expensive.
The minibar is well-equipped but we didn’t have to consume anything from it. Likewise, towels and shower accessories are adequately provided and the reception is more than happy to pass you extras as long as you ask for it.
There is a breakfast buffet offered at $25++ per person and it features a wonderful variety of sweet and savoury choices. There is also a Starbucks and a pop-up café in the lobby area that stayed open even in the wee hours of the morning, so my best friend could have her caffeine fix before we started our panel queues at 3am.
A downside is the lack of free wifi inside your hotel room. This is surprising as you’d expect most hotels (rated 3 stars and above) to offer free wifi for all guests. I suppose the hotel was concerned about the overcrowding factor and leechers, but many hotels I’ve stayed in actually give a specific access code to each guest that was unique to their room. However, the lobby has free wifi so if you need to get some work done or emails checked, you have to bring your laptop down to the lounge area to use their Internet.
5) Privacy & Security 2.5/5
For a premier hotel, the Marriott sports rather lax hotel security. The hotel lifts are accessible by walk-in public, and not programmed to accommodate only specific floors granted by your guest keycard. This means that you can have strangers loitering around the corridors outside your room.
I believe that this was an exceptional case, but as I returned to my room one night I noticed that there were campers decked out in sleeping bags along the corridor. They were posing a fire and safety hazard and the hotel staff should have been vigilant with regards to ensuring that this doesn’t occur as it compromises the privacy and safety of paying hotel guests.
6) Value 3.5/5
The Marriott is one of the most expensive hotels to stay in San Diego (preceded only by the Hard Rock Hotel and comparable to the Hilton Bayfront). However, inflated accommodation rates are to be expected during con season, and judging by its prime location and room standards –especially when you compare it to other hotels in the area, its subsidised price of approximately $300+/night (via Travel Planners) is not unreasonable.
On the whole this hotel was a fantastic choice. My best friend and I didn’t occur any celebrity sightings within the hotel grounds (we had much better luck downtown and on the streets of SD!) but we will definitely recommend the Marriott to anyone coming to SD for the con – be they newbies or veterans!