A couple of days ago I reviewed the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.
I spend a lot of time in the Los Angeles area, typically at the Andaz West Hollywood, which is sort of my “home” hotel in the city. But I’ve decided to mix up my hotel stays a bit lately, and have been trying to review some new properties. I really enjoyed my stay at the Sunset Tower Hotel, which I booked through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.
As a reminder, Fine Hotels & Resorts is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. When booking this hotel through Fine Hotels & Resorts you pay the same flexible rate you would directly with the hotel, but receive:
- Noon check-in, when available
- Guaranteed 4PM check-out
- Room upgrade upon availability
- Daily breakfast for two people
- In-room wifi
- A $100 food & beverage credit to be used during your stay
That’s quite a bit of extra value, especially for a one night stay, given that the $100 food & beverage credit is per stay and not per night (meaning that perk is proportionately more valuable on a short stay than a long stay).
Anyway, the rate for a standard room at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey was ~$350, which definitely isn’t cheap, though at the same time I at least thought I was getting a decent value thanks to the Fine Hotels & Resorts perks.
I arrived at the hotel at around 3:30PM. From the outside, the hotel looks just like any other cookie cutter chain hotel, be it a Westin, Hyatt, etc…
Perhaps the entryway is a bit more “tropical” and nicely kept than more mainstream chains.
As I pulled up a bellman offered to help me with my bags, though since I just had a carry-on I declined. He still pointed me towards check-in, which was inside the lobby and to the left.
Inside, the hotel feels just like any other generic chain hotel.
The reception desk was to the left, and there was maybe a five minute wait before I was helped.
The associate that helped me was friendly, though had the same “issue” I have with a lot of luxury hotels in the US, as I wrote about in the post titled “Dear Luxury Hotels: Stop Trying So Hard.”
The whole interaction felt very scripted, and she must have said my name about a dozen times over the course of a few minutes. I’m not sure why so many hotels train their associates to constantly
butcher rattle off guests’ names.
She informed me that my room wasn’t yet ready, which seemed a bit odd at 3:30PM. However, the hotel’s check-in time is technically 4PM, so I guess that was legit. She took down my number, and I roamed the property for a bit.
Sure enough, about 15 minutes later I received a call indicating that my room was ready. I had been upgraded to a room with a view of the marina, and was also handed a sheet explaining the perks I’d receive for booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts. In addition to the $100 food & beverage credit, it’s worth noting that the daily breakfast credit was for up to $80 per day, and was valid either in the restaurant or for room service, which I thought was awesome.
I was also handed the typical Fine Hotels & Resorts pamphlet, with an enclosed survey about my stay.
The elevators were located down the hallway from the reception desk and on the right. The public facilities in the hotel really did feel like any other past-its-prime Ritz-Carlton in the US, in my opinion.
My room — 628 — was located on the 6th floor, at the end of the hallway.
The room featured an entryway with the bathroom to the left and a closet to the right.
The room had a comfortable king size bed facing a flat screen TV.
The minibar was located below the TV, and was stocked with just soda, water, beer, and snacks.
While I rarely consume anything out of a minibar, I always like checking the prices. And I thought the stuff here was actually quite reasonably priced. $2 for a Snickers Bar isn’t too bad, if you ask me.
Then by the window there was a chair with a side table, as well as a desk with a chair (which wasn’t really an office chair, but rather more of a living room chair).
The bathroom was compact, with a sink, shower/tub combo, and toilet.
Toiletries were Asprey branded.
The highlight of the room was the balcony, which had two chairs and a small table overlooking the marina.
That really is a pretty soothing view, especially with nice temperatures (unfortunately this stay was during the LA heatwave, but it was still nice in the mornings and evenings).
The wifi in the room was fast and the room itself was in pretty good shape, though it still all felt a bit shabby chic. I’ve seen Westins with better remodels than this place.
In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there was a pool located off the side of the main tower.
While I suppose the Ritz-Carlton isn’t a “resort,” per se, I didn’t think the pool was especially impressive.
On top of that it was “temporarily closed” for unnamed reasons, per the engineering department.
The hotel had a gym across from the pool, which is also where the fitness center is located. The fitness center was well equipped and quite empty when I visited. It’s also connected to the locker room which has showers, etc.
There are some nice paths near the hotel around the marina, which are great for an afternoon stroll.
My boyfriend joined me for the evening after work, and we had dinner at Cast & Plow Restaurant, which is located off the lobby. Since we had a $100 food & beverage credit, that seemed like a no brainer.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in hotels for 18 months, it’s that hotel restaurant marketing is amusing. There are some hotels which have true “destination” restaurants, while typically they’re decidedly mediocre, and are almost never visited by people not staying in the hotel.
The Ritz has Cast & Plow Restaurant, which describes itself as being the “next generation of farm-to-table dining,” and being “Locally Sourced, Community Made.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just don’t remember the last hotel restaurant I visited which didn’t hype itself for how “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” it was. I sort of wish some hotel restaurant would be mavericky and not try to play that card for once.
With that out of the way, the restaurant itself was quite nice. The dining tables were located near the windows, and then there was more of a bar and lounge area closer to the lobby.
The restaurant also had a beautiful outdoor terrace, but due to the heavy rain the night prior, it was still closed.
The server helping us was friendly, and he made some suggestions. The menu read as follows:
I had a kale salad to start.
Meanwhile my boyfriend had the red quinoa bowl.
Then I had the salmon as my main course, while he had the chicken.
All four dishes were good. Not memorably so, but they were perfectly nice.
The next morning we ordered room service breakfast. The room service menu read as follows:
We’re both early risers, so were up well before 6AM. So we ordered at around 5:45AM, and our breakfast arrived shortly after 6AM.
What I discovered while sitting on the balcony before 6AM was that the hotel was close enough to the airport so I could see the early morning flight arrivals. It’s pretty magical to turn on flightradar24 and liveatc.net while sipping coffee before sunrise and monitoring the traffic arriving and departing from the airport. It’s even more magical to have a non-aviation geek special-someone who not only tolerates that, but pretends to show interest in it as well. 😉
I checked out that afternoon at 4PM, so had the late check-out benefit honored without issue.
Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey bottom line
Overall I had a perfectly pleasant stay, though I realize the review might sound critical. I guess the thing is that I don’t “get” the Ritz-Carlton brand.
I didn’t think there was any aspect of the hotel (the physical building, decor, service, food, etc.), which was noticeably better than what I’d expect from a Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Westin, etc.
The Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey certainly doesn’t, though. But was I expecting better for a hotel in Marina Del Rey? Not really, I suppose.
So if the price were right and I needed to be in Marina Del Rey, I would definitely consider returning. That being said, I don’t view this as a “destination” resort, and personally I don’t find Marina Del Rey to be especially convenient for what I like to do in the LA-area. The hotel seemed to mostly be filled with convention-goers, so I guess that explains their primary market.
Have you stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey? Does anyone not find Ritz-Carlton to be wildly inconsistent in terms of quality?