Review: The Marriott Marquis in Downtown Houston

The Marriott Marquis in Downtown Houston just opened its doors to the public before the turn of the New Year and just in time for Super Bowl 51. A lot of hype preceded the Marquis’ opening due to the massive Texas shaped lazy river that it has, and the fact that it houses over 1,000 rooms and is centrally located near several major Houston venues. I got the oppurtunity to check out this hotel and to do a proper look at what it has to offer, so here’s my review of the Marriott Marquis Houston.

The Marriott Marquis lobby

As soon as you enter the hotel, you’ll notice the wide lobby area which stretches from either end of the hotel and is lit with multiple shimmering chandeliers. The lobby connects to all of the main restaurants on the first floor, so you won’t have to go hunting for them throughout the hotel, which is nice. Also, Marriott elites are provided with their own check-in line (and it actually seems to be enforced).

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The check-in desks at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

I hadn’t seen chandeliers quite like the ones at the Marriott Marquis but they’re beautiful.

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Chandelier in the lobby.

The glittering lighting overhangs some of the many seating areas in the lobby, creating a very luxurious feel to many of the lounge areas.

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Lobby furniture outside the wine bar.

Some of the furniture is also more on the swanky side than others.

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Swanky furniture in the Marriott Marquis lobby.

To the right of the lobby you’ll find the elevators. There are two sets, one that services floors 1 to 17 and a second that services floors 1-4, 6, 18-29.

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Elevators.

Inside the elevators you’ll find different NASA inspired works decorating the walls, which I love to see since it’s something that I believe makes Houston special and definitely deserves the attention.

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NASA art inside the elevator.

I think the elevators still need a little fine-tuning because the doors shut very quickly and several people had the doors close on them like a pair of steel jaws. Also, the LCD screen lags a bit so you’ll jump from floor 8 to like 25, so it’s a little odd/unsettling.

The first floor is all restaurants, bars, and check in desks. The second and third floor are designated for over 50 event rooms and also house the smaller “Houston ballroom,” while the the 4th floor is home to the “Texas ballroom,” the largest of its kind in Texas.

Elevator
Floor breakdown at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

The room

We booked a lazy river pool view room and got placed on the 25th floor.  It was a nice room with about as much space as you’d expect for a standard room. I kind of regret not booking a slightly larger corner room, but considering how last-minute this booking was made (on Valentine’s Day weekend), I’m glad as I was able to at least get this room.

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Lazy river view room.

Inside, you’ll find a comfy chair along with a desk, TV, and a  little but of artwork on the walls. Nothing too extraordinary  but still nice, nonetheless.

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Desk area.

The bathroom is pretty standard as well. It’s nicely decorated with a fair amount of counter space and only one sink.

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The bathroom.

The shower is pretty basic too. It seemed like it took a little bit of time to get the water really hot but if you push the lever all the way over to the left (way past the “H”), it will probably get hot much quicker.

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The shower.

The room comes with shampoos, soaps, and lotions from Thann, a global skincare and aromatherapy company. I found the products to be of good quality, so if you don’t carry around your own shampoo and conditioner you should be alright.

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Soaps and skincare products.

The view

Without a doubt, it’s the view that made the room a bit special and unique. First, at the 25th floor, we had a great view of some of Houston’s skyscrapers, including the tallest building in Texas, the JP Morgan/Chase Tower (pictured below on the right).

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View of the skyline from the room.

I think the photo below is eventually going to be one of the most iconic hotel views in Houston or maybe for any hotel in Texas. When I first heard about the concept of a Texas-shaped lazy river, I had my doubts about its execution. It seemed gimmicky and I wasn’t sure if Marriott would be able to pull it off right.

But once I caught my first real-life glimpse of the pool from the 25th floor, it was clear to me that this idea had been perfectly executed. I’m probably biased as a native Texas, but the sight of a giant Texas shaped pool is just a beautiful sight to behold and it helps that this was artfully done with proper lighting, layout, etc. I think the plan is to install even more foliage at some point, but for now I still love the way it looks.

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Texas shaped lazy river at the Marriott Marquis.

At night, the view continues to amaze, as the pool lights come on, as do the lights from the buildings towering nearby. I highly recommend trying to catch the sunset if you’re on a higher floor.

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Texas shaped lazy river at night.

For winter hours, you can continue to soak around the pool until 9pm, which looks like a lot of fun. I’m not sure what the summer hours will be.

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Soaking in the lazy river after sunset.

The pool

There are three separate pools on the splash deck. The huge lazy river, the infinity pool, and then a jacuzzi pool. Admission is limited only to registered hotel guests but they don’t have any way of processing your entrance electronically, which I think might eventually become a problem as the pool grows in popularity. You can pick up complimentary towels right at the entrance of the pool.

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The pool area at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

The lazy river and infinity pool are heated pools but “heated” to just about room temperature. When we first dipped in, it was a bit chilly but we soon got acclimated. So just don’t expect the pool (besides the hot tub) to be steaming like a hot bath when you dip into it during the winter.

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Close up of the lazy river.

As you can tell from the photos, the entire area is covered with chairs and little cabana areas. In the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, things started to pick up but there were still plenty of spaces to grab a chair. In the summer, I think things will probably get very packed on weekends, but with so much space, hopefully overcrowding won’t be a major issue.

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Cabana at the Marriott in Houston, Texas.

Although it was a tad bit chilly with a strong wind when we visited, they did not have the fire pit running. Perhaps they only turn it on when it’s really cold outside (for Texas standards). Still, it’s a cool feature.

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The fire pit area.

When you’re on the splash deck, you’ve got some pretty good views of downtown and some of the surrounding area.

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View from the pool area.
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Plenty of chairs for visitors.

In the middle of the photo below you can see where the pool bar and grill is located (it was closed when I took the photo). I didn’t get a chance to try it out myself, but there were quite a few people enjoying the bar later on in the day.

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More cabanas and lounge chairs.

In the middle of the “Texas,” there’s an area with fountains flowing within a semi-circle of chairs.

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Fountain flowing in the middle of the Texas shaped lazy river.

One portion of the lazy river comes to a glass panel where you can see out over Discovery Green.

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Checking out the view from the see-through wall.

Finally, there are some recreational areas covered with artificial turf. One area is clearly designated for the game “cornhole,”

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But there’s another area where we saw some little red and green balls on the turf and couldn’t figure out what game is supposed to be played there. Right beside that area is a large pavilion, which I assume will be used for special events and much needed shade during the Texas summer.

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Pavilion in the pool area.

Brad and I hung out with a friend in the pool area for a while and it was a good time. This is really ideal for families to bring along their kids and give them a place to have fun swimming when there is some down time. Since nearby Galveston is home to Schlitterbahn, you can get your real water park thrills there, but for people coming into Houston looking for a hotel that offers something to help keep you occupied, I think this is a perfect option.

Fitness Club or Gym

I was overly impressed with the fitness club at the Marriott Marquis. It’s open 24 hours a day and it’s really big. It’s just about the size of a real (smallish) gym and has absolutely everything in it. If you’re someone who has to really hit the gym and utilize all sorts of different machines, free weights, benches, etc., you’ll probably be right at home in this gym. And there’s also plenty of cardio equipment lining the windows looking out to the pool area as well.

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Gym at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

Plenty of free weights.

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Free weights section.

Plenty of machines for all sorts of different work outs.

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All of the equipment looked brand new and of high quality, just like you would find at a nice gym.

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Treadmills.

The M Club Lounge

Because we have Marriott Gold status we were given complimentary access to the M Club Lounge.

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Elite status allowing late check out as late as 4pm.

It’s definitely one of the nicer lounges that I’ve visited at a Marriott hotel.

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The M Lounge at the Marriott Marquis Houston

It’s really big and is beautifully decorated with special attention to the details, just like the rest of the hotel. You’ll find a couple of private meeting/eating areas on one side and plenty of comfy seats throughout the space.

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M Lounge seating areas.

There’s a real emphasis on ornate details found throughout the hotel.

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Ornate furniture.
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M Club lounge furniture.

You’ll be able to find different types of soda, sparkling water, juices, and an assortment of snacks like m&ms, pretzels, granola bars, nutter butter bars, etc. set up in the lounge, so if you get the urge for a snack the M Club lounge is a perfect place to relax for a bit.

Breakfast

The M Club lounge is also where we had our complimentary breakfast due to our Marriott Gold status. It’s served in the area under the beautiful hanging lights seen below.

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M Club Lounge dining area.

It offered eggs, bacon, hash browns, different fruits, breads, cereals, and several different types of pastries and muffins.

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Breakfast in the M Club.

I think breakfast is the only thing that didn’t fully live up to my expectations. It’s not that it was horrible by any means, I just had really high expectations for it based on everything else I’d experienced at the hotel. I wasn’t overly impressed with the options and quality of some of the foods like the eggs. Still, I had a good breakfast experience there overall.

Restaurants

The hotel has a total of six restaurants and cafes to choose from.

They’ve got:

  • Biggios – big sports bar serving American food
  • Cueva – tapas and wine bar
  • High Dive – outdoor pool bar and grill
  • Texas T – cafe that serves Starbucks coffee and pastries
  • Walker Street Kitchen  – ideal for breakfast or light lunch
  • Xochi – award winning chef serving indigenous flavors and drink of the Mexican state Oaxaca

We only had time to try out Biggio’s and Walker Street Kitchen. I’ll have to get back to try out Xochi since I lived in Oaxaca for a summer and I’d love to see what kind of cuisine and drinks I could try out there.

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Biggio’s entrance.

Biggio’s is a large two story sports bar restaurant. One side is bit more tame as you can see from the photo below.

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Inside Biggio’s.

However, the other side with the bar is home to over a dozen television screens with what seemed like every sporting event being broadcasted at the moment on at once. On the far side of the restaurant, you’ll find two huge screens on the wall, ensuring that you’ll be able to find a good view of your game pretty much anywhere you sit.

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The bar at Biggio’s.

We tried out the “loaded nachos,” which were pretty good. They were a little light on the cheese but heavy on almost every other ingredient. They were a bit pricey at $14, but still, it was a nice snack the held us over for dinner. One order of them is plenty enough to share for two to three people. Burgers run about $15 but they have many other options like chicken and waffles or if you’re trying to be healthier, they’ve got salads, too.

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Loaded nachos at Biggio’s.

The next day we had brunch at Walker Street Kitchen. The service was a bit slow considering how empty the place was but when we finally got our burgers, they didn’t disappoint too much.

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The Walker Street Kitchen at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

The fries are great and are heavily seasoned with sea salt and extra crunchy. We asked for medium well on the “WSK burgers” but they definitely came back well-done to extra well-done so that was a little disappointing, but the burger was still packed with flavor. They are a more expensive than I’d like to pay at $17, but considering it’s a restaurant at one of the nicest hotels in a major city, that’s pretty standard.

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The WSK burger.

If you don’t have access to the M Club lounge you can always purchase breakfast there. The hotel offers the following breakfast options:

Breakfast

  • Buffet breakfast, fee from: 22.00 USD
  • Continental breakfast, fee from: 15.00 USD
  • Full American breakfast, fee from: 29.00 USD
  • Grab-n-Go breakfast, fee from: 12.00 USD
  • Hot breakfast, fee from: 29.00 USD
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Breakfast items at Walker Street Kitchen.

We later strolled around the lobby checking out the other places to eat and drink.

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Texas T cafe.

We found some beautiful pastries at Texas T that luckily we got away from before we gave in.

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Pastries at Texas T.

We also took a peak inside the wine bar, Cueva, with a wall containing several hundred bottles of wine.

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Marriott Marquis Houston wine bar.

There’s a gift shop called “Lone Star Traders” right next to the Texas T cafe and a shop for snacks and other items.

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Marriott Marquis gift shops.

I really enjoyed finding all of the art pieces all over the hotel. It seems like at very corner in the lobby, and the special event floors, you’ll find these art pieces.

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Art piece made up of comic books.

Much of the art work is Texas themed.

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And there’s plenty of Houston-specific pieces as well, whether it be sports or industry inspired.

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And even the lighting throughout the hotel carries its own artistic weight, too.

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Finally, I just had to see the ballroom, which is now the largest ballroom in Texas. I took a peak while they were setting up for a major event and all I have to say is that room is huge! According to Marriott, it can hold over 4,000 people or close to 3,000 for a banquet. So if you’re looking to have a Texas-sized wedding, you’ve found your venue.

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The ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

Final word

Overall, the Marriott Marquis in Downtown Houston is an exceptional hotel. It’s Texas-sized and full of beautifully designed amenities. The main draw to this hotel will obviously be the Texas shaped lazy river and rightfully so, as it’s a sight to behold. However, it’s nice to have such a solid hotel conveniently located near major Houston venues like the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center. I think that this hotel will continue to grow as an attraction and will become an ideal “staycation” spot for many people living in the Greater Houston Area.

One comment

  1. The Hotel was beautiful. Biggio’s was great. Everything was great except we ran out of toilet paper and then after being out late at the Astro game woke up to no soap or shampoo. We needed to leave and checkout early so we wound up leaving Unshowered. For the money I paid for the rooms this ruined the whole experience.

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