I’ve just spent a few days in Yerevan, and spent two of those nights staying at the Marriott Yerevan. This is supposedly one of the best hotels in the city, if not the best (the Kardashians stayed here when they visited in 2015, and there’s no one who appreciates classy and understated elegance more than they do). The hotel is painfully outdated, so I’m thrilled with the addition of a new Luxury Collection hotel in the city, which will fall under the Marriott/SPG umbrella in August of 2018.
Not only is the hotel outdated, but I had some issues with how they cleaned rooms — my balcony had an ashtray with cigarettes in it, most of the toiletries were clearly recycled (as the shampoo, conditioner, vanity kit, etc., were all half full), and I had a mixed experience with the staff (some were extremely friendly, some not so much).
I’ll save all of that for the review, but in this post I wanted to talk about the executive lounge at this hotel, which is one of the strangest club lounges I’ve ever visited. There’s obviously a huge variance in the quality of club lounges around the world, and the US has among the worse ones out there. Outside the US some are okay and some are amazing. Lounges have all kinds of different service concepts, ranging from a few food presentations per day, to an all day menu off of which you can order things.
But there’s something about the Marriott Yerevan executive lounge that’s especially strange. For one, it’s located at the back of the hotel’s Italian restaurant. When I arrived at the hotel I was told the lounge was on the second floor, and I must have spent a good 10 minutes searching the second floor before asking, because I felt so dumb for not being able to find the lounge.
“Sorry, I feel dumb for asking this, but where on the second floor is the executive lounge?”
“Oh, the lounge is in the Italian restaurant. Just walk inside, turn right, and walk to the very back.”
“It’s in the restaurant?”
Sure enough, it’s a room in the back of the hotel’s Italian restaurant. I’m not sure what’s stranger — that the club lounge is in the back of a hotel’s restaurant, that I didn’t once see a single guest in the Italian restaurant, or that I didn’t once see another guest in the club lounge.
I would be worried that the food they put out was going to waste, but it was clear that this was being used as an employee break room when I wasn’t there. Every time I arrived several servers darted up from sitting there. It basically being an employee break room might sound like a bad thing, but at least they were eating the food, so I felt like it wasn’t totally going to waste.
There is one major advantage to a hotel’s club lounge being in the back of a restaurant — they serve you food from that restaurant. There was a small buffet with snack options, though I was also asked if I wanted some chicken or pizza from the restaurant.
“Sure, I’ll take some pizza.”
“How much do you want?”
“Just a small one, please.”
And then 15 minutes later I was brought a pizza.
So yeah, this has to be one of the more unusual club lounges I’ve been to. I’ve never been to a deserted club lounge in the back of a deserted Italian restaurant before.
And before someone says it, I realize Yerevan is a great food city (I love Armenian food), so the reason I visited the club lounge so often was because I prefer to work from outside my hotel room, so I avoid the temptation to nap.
Again my experience was totally different but this was about 8 years ago.
The lounge was lovely and the staff were some of the best I've every had in Marriott and I'm including Asia. They went out of their way to talk to us about the city and made numerous excellent suggestions regarding restaurants.
Sound like they closed that lounge. Too bad.
@ Ben -- Your room looks like the suite we just checked into at IC FRA. I know you used to stay here back in the day. Well, NOTHING has changed here, except they have (better) wifi now. RA treatment is still excellent, but I have to wonder when this hotel was last renovated (if ever). Fanta Orange from the free minibar, anyone? :-)
@ Gene -- Ah, good memories at that hotel, but it's badly in need of a renovation at this point.
I stayed there summer of 2017 and the 2nd floor lounge was open. Good food selection and great views of the nightly water show from the balcony tables. I seem to remember that breakfast on weekends, I think, was in the restaurant area instead of the lounge.
Interesting that it seems they used to have a different lounge.
@ Jay Simonsen -- Well perhaps the only benefit is that breakfast is now in the restaurant every day.
I don't think I would eat any food that has been sitting at room temperature.
Is that horsemeat in the buffet, or just basturma?
They must be renovating the lounge or something. It used to be on the second floor overlooking the square with a balcony. Very pretty views. I've stayed there twice and it is very dated but great location.
I stayed at the hotel in the summer of 2016 and had a drastically different experience. There is an annex, connected to the main building, with much more modern rooms. I was told it has opened a month before my visit. Plus, like Theyhbu, I accessed the club lounge on the top most level with a beautiful view of the square.
One more thing ... the hotel must be partially renovated because the room pictures on the hotel website are different from what you posted.
1) This actually isn't unusual. OK. Walking through the restaurant to access the lounge is somewhat unusual, though you do the same to access the M Club lounges at the Marriott Buffalo (about two years old) and the just-renovated Marriott in Pontiac/Auburn Hills/Bloomfield Hills (Detroit suburbs). The M Club lounges -- M Club lounges are replacing the old concierge lounges at Marriott hotels -- are almost always attached to the hotel restaurant or lobby bar....
1) This actually isn't unusual. OK. Walking through the restaurant to access the lounge is somewhat unusual, though you do the same to access the M Club lounges at the Marriott Buffalo (about two years old) and the just-renovated Marriott in Pontiac/Auburn Hills/Bloomfield Hills (Detroit suburbs). The M Club lounges -- M Club lounges are replacing the old concierge lounges at Marriott hotels -- are almost always attached to the hotel restaurant or lobby bar.
2) You didn't post additional pictures of the decor so I can't fully comment, but I think you fail to make the distinction between outdated and a classic decor. Yes, clearly, the decor is the older Marriott style -- it looks like the interior design from circa 2000-2006 -- BUT everything looks clean and well-maintained in the pictures you posted. I doubt you would call Buckingham Palace or the White House "outdated" because they have a classic decor.
3) It would be interesting to know whether is this a property managed by Marriott International or whether it is a franchised property. I say that because while a majority of North America properties are franchised, most international properties are actually managed by Marriott International, which probably explains why, on average, international properties are better and typically offer more amenities.
Did they close the real club lounge with the view over the square?
When I was there, the lounge was really cool: http://youhavebeenupgraded.boardingarea.com/2017/04/review-marriott-armenia-yerevan/
BTW the Hyatt Place is not really an alternative.