* Prices may differ from that shown
Whilst in America, my partner had to go on a business trip over to New Mexico for a whopping 3 weeks. As I'm over here stateside, I managed to go too for the whole duration...freeeeee holiday! We were given accommodation in the Residence Inn, part of the Marriott group, and being a fan of these types of hotels (chains), from my experience in Michigan, I rather looked forward to it.
Information found on their website: Marriott International, Inc., is a leading lodging company. Its heritage can be traced to a root beer stand opened in Washington, D.C., in 1927 by J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott. Today, Marriott International has about 3,000 lodging properties located in the United States and 67 other countries and territories....by jove!
The location of our hotel was ok...not great, but ok. The hotel is situated right next to a busy interstate road, and surrounded by clusters of other 'chain' hotels and motels. There are restaurants and supermarkets in walking distance (a nice BBQ restaurant up the road...that is if you like rednecks...we walked in...we walked out again). You would need to drive to go anywhere of much interest, such as the mountains and downtown to the university district.
Location rating: 7/10
As soon as you enter the hotel, you are greeted with a sense of 'New Mexico/Mexico', everything is of Native American design, from the way the chairs are carved, to the use of colour. It feels more themed than authentic, but it's much nicer than Midwestern floral prints everywhere! As well as a check in desk, there is a large dining area, where you can grab a coffee, tea or juice and some fruit and sit and watch the huge plasma TV, or read a book from the selection they have to offer. There is a strict no smoking policy throughout, and it also states that you can bring pets with you, but you would have to pay an additional $100, for your room to be cleaned after. There are other facilities near this area too, but I'll come to that later. All in all, the lobby area is very clean, welcoming and comfortable.
Lobby rating: 10/10
The hotel complex is split up into what I can only describe as blocks of houses, and within each 'house' there are 4 guest rooms. 2 downstairs, and 2 upstairs. So to get to your room, is like going into your house. So you enter your room from outside, your room door doesn't open to a corridor. When the website describes their hotel as a 'home from home', they were not wrong. In our room, we have a king size double bed (it is enormous), a lounge area, kitchen, dressing area and bathroom. I was blown away, I think there is more square footage here than in my flat in the UK (how sad is that?). The room was clean and again, the furniture had a design feel of a Cherokee or Apache tribe, a rather smart theme, I thought. In the lounge we had a double sofa, armchair, fully working fireplace and TV which had a good amount of channels, but I was most impressed with the Kitchen. We had a bar area with bar stools, fridge freezer, microwave, dishwasher, oven, coffee maker, toaster, pots, pans, knives, forks, plates everything including measuring spoons and mixing bowls (as if we were going to make a cake there??). When room service comes round, not only do you get your soaps and shampoos, but you also get washing up liquid and washing machine tablets. The only downside to our room, I would say, would be that the air conditioning was rather loud. If it kicked in and we were watching telly, we would have to turn the sound up, and sometimes if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would have to turn it off to get back to sleep again
Room rating: 9/10
Amenities in the room rating: 10/10
The layout of the bathroom, I found a little odd. There was a dressing area that included a sink, with one full length mirror, and large wall mirror, but the toilet and bath/shower were in the next room. Handy in some ways, as one person can be getting ready (brushing teeth etc) whilst someone else had a shower. They were both very clean, with cupboard and drawer space. I can't pick any faults here.
Bathroom rating: 10/10
If I wasn't impressed already, this really did it! As with these sort of 'chain hotels', breakfast is usually included, and for this I would expect a few pastries, toast, jams and fruits...but not here. Well, there was that, certainly. There was a choice of 4 different cereals, as well as 'breakfast' fruit and a choice of yoghurts. But there was also a waffle maker (with batter to make your own), bagels, muffins, doughtnuts, breads and toast, plus jams and other condiments...as well as scrambled eggs, hash browns (well, little potato cubes), flat sausage (kind of like a burger, but it was sausage), and each day there would be a different extra, from taco shells and tortilla wraps (why would someone have this for breakfast?...Oh yeah, we're in New Mexico), also pancakes, french toast, cinnamon toast...Breakfast very quickly became my favourite part of the day.
When we checked in, we were also told about some 'social' gatherings they had every Monday to Wednesday from 5pm - 6.30pm. At first, I rolled my eyes in a kind of "How-cheesey-thanks-but-no-thanks" way, but we went along on the Monday to see what it was about. It isn't really a gathering at all, so much as a free meal and with the telly on. On Mondays there is a choice of crisps, crudites and dips, as well as a pretzel (plus cheese sauce) and chilli. Ok, fair enough, not exactly the most nutritious meal, but for something classed as 'complimentary', I was highly impressed. On Tuesday there was breads and cheeses (they even had a whole brie), plus crudités, hummus, crisps etc. It said a lot about the folk who were staying in the hotel, that the chilli and crisps had to be refilled every half hour (and there were at least 5 large bowls of crisps/chips) and every time, the French bread and brie were left for us untouched, much to our delight. They even let us drink our own red wine with it, making it a really enjoyable affair.
On Wednesdays is the BBQ...so we had hotdogs, burgers, salad and other nibbley bits. So for 3 days you can get free breakfast AND dinner. The evening 'meals' were served by one of those guys who is nice enough, but you get the feeling he loved his job too much, and had so much enthusiasm, he felt like a youth worker rather than someone who you don't want to spend time with, but instead you just smile and say thank you out of politeness, as he tops up the food. He kept trying to make conversation with us, bless him, but he had an irritating manner of talking, similar to that of Sarah Palin (vile witch), which made me have to resist trying not to fully ignore him altogether. At every 'meal' there is also pepsi and other fizzy drinks available, as well as fruit, and some sort of 'dessert', usually brownies or cookies. I am still surprised that we were able to get so much for our money - if only they did it Thursday to Sunday too...but then again, there is so much on offer for breakfast, you can stay full for hours and hours.
Food rating: 10/10
Just off the lobby area there is a room they called 'the Market'. This is basically where they sell goods, such as crisps, ice cream, sweets, drinks and teddy bears (??), so you don't have to go out to a supermarket. Handy, but it would be cheaper to go out and buy anything you might need for yourself. There is also a computer in there too where you can check emails, which I understand is free of charge. A little further along there is a small gym, containing two treadmills, a cross trainer, exercise bike and some really unusual hand weights, plus TV to watch while you work out. It's far from perfect, but good facility none the less. A bit further outside is a pool area, again a pretty decent size (I was able to swim round it enough times and not think it too small) as well as sunbeds and picnic tables with canope umbrellas and a jacuzzi. There is also an alcove type area with padded sofas, plus an outdoor BBQ grill, where they cook the food for Wednesday nights. Adjacent to the pool (divided by a fence) is a sports court, where you can play tennis or basketball, but you would need to provide your own equipment.
Dotted around the area are benches and other small tables, so you don't feel confined to one area of 'the complex'. There is free wifi in the main lobby area, but if you want to use the internet in your room, you need a cable, which they also provide. They also provide a shopping service, where you fill out a shopping list, and leave it for your room service lady, and they'll buy your groceries for you, but this comes at a charge. All the facilities here are clean and well maintained, and of high quality. The staff have been nothing but helpful and attentive too. I got someone who worked there to get my towels replaced and even emptied out bins for us (we requested no room service, then I changed my mind as I heard them go by) and she wasn't even a maid (or are they called 'room hostesses' these days?).
Other Amenities rating (including staff): 10/10
This is also another bonus for us. We paid $109 a night. Which works out just under 60GBP per night, which works out at 30GBP per person. That is a bargain in my book, for everything you are getting, three days a week you don't even need to buy food! You can also easily sleep more in your room if you so wished, as the sofa turns into a sofa bed...not to mention the ample floor space for others - but they would have to like sleeping on the floor!
Price rating: 10/10
GRAND TOTAL FOR THE: 9.6/10
(77/80 to be exact)
Would I stay there again?:
ABSOLUTELY! I wouldn't hesitate coming back or recommended this place to anyone. It is by far the best hotel I think I have ever stayed in - for the price, that is! (I have stayed in classier and much nicer places, but had to pay about 10 times as much probably). I'm interested to know if this is standard for all of the Residence Inns, for the food, the pool, the gym, or whether or not this is an exceptional part of their company? Well, I would happy to try another one to compare.
The company's website can be found at: www.marriott.com
Our particular hotel can be found here:
3300 Prospect Avenue NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87107 USA
Thanks for reading :)
© MarcoG 2008
Centrally located with easy access to Downtown, the Airport and the University of New Mexico.