Friday, June 11, 2010

Marriott vs Hilton

After spending 5 unpleasant nights in the Chicago Marriott on Michigan Avenue, and one night in the Hilton Garden Inn on Grand Ave, I can honestly say, the Hilton Garden Inn won me over, hands down. Why these 2 hotels? Well, the Marriott was selected by Dr Desert Flower's corporate office HQ out of Dallas - they seem to love Marriott, and don't appear to mind that the WiFi is not free, the pool & hot tub are being repaired and are unusable, the rooms are tiny, the beds are uncomfortably squishy, the superfluous bed pillows are strangely shaped and unusable for anything, the rates are exorbitantly expensive ($300 a night), and local calls are not free. Even as Marriott Rewards member, my membership card has no "toll free" number on it for customer service. Seriously, no toll free number? Lame, on all accounts.

The Hilton Garden Inn, we stumbled upon after emerging from the Red Line Grand Ave station, 2 blocks away from the Marriott. As I am a Silver HHonors member, we called them Monday night, and secured a reservation for a $100 less a night than the Marriott where we were staying for our 'extra night' that both DDF and I were taking as vacation. For a $100 less, what did we get? A room that was nearly double in size. A bathroom that was larger than a broom closet - nearly ADA compliant in its spaciousness. Beds that had dual "firmness" controls, for His and Her sides - which helped my lumbar enormously. A bell man who held our bags while we toured the Shedd Aquarium and Millennium Park. A pool that was not under construction. A fitness center that had a doctor's office scale where I could weigh in our checked luggage to make sure it was Just Under 50 lbs. And a location that was adjacent to the Red Line subway station. Excellent on all accounts. Oh, and they provided free cookies at the reception desk, which I abstained from indulging, but it was a nice touch never the less.

I see no reason to ever stay at another Marriott, willingly, again. In my personal perspective, Hilton provides better rooms at lower prices, in Chicago, Hartford Connecticut, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Charleston SC, Greenville SC, Detroit, and Hong Kong (each of which, I have stayed in a Hilton, or Hilton partner AND a Marriott, at one time or another). That's a pretty substantial sample size. I'll go with my gut, and avoid Marriott going forward.


  1. Often times they do. I've been at some very nice Mariotts, but too many were sub-par. And many Hiltons were better run, but it's not hard and fast. I've seen some crap Hiltons too...notably in Springfield, IL.

    Keep in mind that companies negotiate affinity programs with hotel chains. The often get kickbacks at the end of the year based on usage, so that $300 a night room may indeed be much less expensive.

  2. Yep, corporate rates and direct billing, something I never quite understood about business travel.

    I've not stayed in Springfield IL, but I'll take your word for it. I've stayed at some crappy Hampton Inns from time to time, and got fleas once in a Homewood Suites just West of Hartford CT, but haven't had a bad Hilton stay yet.

    Marriott seems to be TRYING really hard to be much more snobby and hoity-toity than they really are, and failing miserably. It's almost like they think they're a Ritz Carlton, or other "4 Seasons" Property, but instead come across closer to a Holiday Inn. Hilton thinks they are "all that and a bag of chips" but they tend to deliver better.

    I forgot to mention Prague in the earlier list (or Praha as the Czechs refer to it). I once spent a nice weekend at the Praha Hilton, enroute to Vienna to see a environmentally friendly Austria steel mill. It was a nice hotel as well.

    1. The Ritz is actually Marriott owned, in case you didn't know that.

    2. They don't live up to their flag ship name in Chicago, or anywhere else I have stayed globally.

      I avoid Marriotts every chance I get.

  3. Plus Hilton brought us hours of laughs with his great granddaughter and her dumb sex tape :)

    Stupid spoiled playset!

  4. and no comedy central at Marriott? seriously? WTF Every Hilon I've stayed in has comedy central =)

  5. I have a question -- what brought you to Marriott in the first place? Personally I feel they have a more successful marketing strategy, and brand recognition. Is this just me?

  6. Natalie, it was business travel, and gravitation towards familiar / recognizable hotel chains while in cities where I was unaware of the landscape. Since that June posting, I've stayed at Hampton Inns in Mt Pleasant SC, New Orleans, and Flagstaff, each one having good quality, free WiFi, clean rooms, friendly staff, reasonable rates.

    My biggest "dislike" is having to pay for internet connection at any hotel. If a hotel wants my business, they need to provide a free internet connection (wired or wireless). Treating an internet connection as "just another business fee" is unacceptable.


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