MARRIOTT AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION HOTELS
I used to consider all Marriott Hotels bland and unvaried: seemed like every guest room at every property was decorated in the same flyover state decor of green carpet, rose and green floral bedspreads and matching wallpaper, with brass accents adding to the despair. However in the past half-decade or so, as the company has added some sophisticated brands (Edition, Bulgari) and invested in making its JW line more exciting, my impression of the chain has moved from staid to sexy. I especially love the Marriott Autograph Collection Hotels.
From the Marriott website:
The Autograph Collection is a remarkable group of upper upscale and luxury independent hotels. These iconic properties are located in dynamic gateway cities and preferred destinations worldwide. Each one is unique, one of a kind with its own distinct perspective.
For the true individualist who shuns the predictability of chains, Autograph Collection takes the guesswork out of finding independent, high-personality destination hotels that reflect the adventurous spirit and uncompromising originality of the guests who seek them out.
The Autograph Collection Guest Profile: The Individualist
- Prefers to find their own way and forge their own paths
- Shuns convention, rejects the familiar, seeks the road less traveled and the choice less obvious
- Searches for original experiences that add to their lifelong narrative and sense of adventure
- Views the hotel as the focal point of the journey; what they see along the way is an added bonus
This is me! As a hotel afficionado and marketing professional I’m very impressed with how Marriott has positioned their Autograph Collection.
FAVORITE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION HOTELS
I lost my Marriott Autograph Collection virginity to the Santo Mauro in Madrid in 1998 (it probably wasn’t an Autograph Collection property back then). I had endured four weeks in Salamanca and Barcelona at a language school, and although I acquired zero Spanish skills (I learned only four words: cerveza, baño, bolso and zapatos) I managed to contract a toenail fungus from the shower of the crappy (unheated) student apartment in which I stayed.
After weeks of listening to me complain, my boyfriend instructed me to dump my remaining classes, retreat to Madrid, and hunker down at the Santo Mauro, his treat. I was in heaven.
Presently, when in Minneapolis I stay at the dramatic The Hotel Minneapolis, a Marriott Autograph collection property. The stunning lobby belies the fact that walk-in rates can sometimes dip as low as $109.
And when I visit Detroit (monthly) I stay only at The Henry, a charming Autograph Collection hotel in Dearborn. The rack rate is typically $239, sometimes I pay only $189 with my AAA membership, and corporate rates drop go a mere $129.
ST. ERMIN’S HOTEL, LONDON
I stayed at the St. Ermin’s Hotel, the Marriott’s Autograph Collection property in London, my last trip to the city. On a scale of one to five stars , I rate the St. Ermin’s Hotel in London at 4.5 stars: I was quite happy spending four days there.
- Dramatic, recessed entrance
- I was able to book four consecutive nights with Marriott Points less than one month prior to my stay (145K Points)
- The location is fabulous (next to St. James Park, an easy walk to Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Houses of Parliament)
- The hotel is convenient: many restaurants and shops are located nearby and the Underground station is a block away
- Gorgeous, stunning lobby. I’m a sucker for the white on white wedding cake look and dramatic staircase. As with the other Marriott Autograph Collection hotels I’ve visited, the the designers of St. Ermin’s lobby took risks
- Complimentary baked sweets awaited me in my room
- All the promised Platinum amenities (free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, bottle of wine, etc.) were fulfilled
- Controllable room temperature and good shower pressure
- The inclusive cold breakfast buffet is only ok, but I ordered hot items off the menu and was not charged
- Speedy wi-fi connection
- Newspaper delivery
- Small rooms (I received an upgrade and still had to tuck my suitcase underneath the desk). I became less sensitive to the fact the longer I stayed
- Thin walls. This was an issue only one of the four nights
- Mediocre cold breakfast buffet
The St. Ermin’s, Marriott Autograph Collection exceeds four stars. However, despite the amazing public space decor, the property just barely misses that certain je ne sais pas quality of five star hotels.
But I’d happily stay here again in a minute.