Reevaluated: The Best Airport Hotel in North America

So for the longest time I considered the Grand Hyatt DFW to be the best airport hotel in North America. The hotel is inside the terminal, quiet, has classy accommodations, and is available on points (and the annual free night certificate). This is not to mention the fact that you have DFW at your doorstep, which is easily one of the most connected airports in the country. Anyway it is hard to beat Grand Hyatt DFW when you take the airport into consideration, but when looking at other aspects, such as food and service there are better options.

I just finished up a stay at the new Marriott Calgary In-Terminal Hotel after another AMAZING trip to the Canadian Rockies. And it turns out that I have a new favorite airport hotel now. There are many things going for this hotel: It is steps away from the U.S Preclearance facility at YYC, has an immaculate club lounge with great food options, has ridiculous views of the runways and skyline, and of course it is available on Marriott’s annual free night certificate.

Here’s a quick look at my stay:

Background:

After realizing that my flight back to DFW was actually a day later than I had thought (I’m losing track of my travel these days), I went on my laptop to see if I could just stay at a nearby hotel instead of picking up the rental again. I was hoping that I could stay at the Marriott hotel using my annual free night certificate because I wasn’t in the mood for a shuttle ride back and forth from the airport. Low and behold I logged into my account and noticed that it was available for redemption.

Check In:

I walked over to the hotel just minutes after booking my room and was graciously welcomed as a Platinum guest by the receptionist. Without even having to ask, I was upgraded to a City View King Room with what she called “magnificent views of the runways and city.” All in, check in took a matter of 5 minutes and I was ushered to the elevators. There’s nothing like arriving in your room just minutes after leaving the gate area. If you ever fancy a drink or decide to relax before your flight, the lobby of the hotel isn’t a bad place either:

King City View Room:

My room was your standard issue renovated or new Marriott room featuring a king sized bed, desk, large screen TV, and two lounge chairs. A coffee machine was available for you to brew your own in room. The restroom featured a large stand alone shower with Thane branded toiletries.

The accommodation was extremely spacious and the views were the highlight of my stay. You could see all kinds of planes (mostly Air Canada and WestJet) taking off with the Calgary skyline as the backdrop. For a photographer and aviation geek, this room really shined through as one of the best.

This was a particularly rainy day in Calgary so there were no views of the mountains to the west, but it was nonetheless spectacular seeing the reflections of the planes on the pavement.

M Club Lounge on the 7th Floor (Open 24/7 via Key Card Access):

Evening Canapes (5:30 – 7pm)

 

I hadn’t eaten anything all day so I headed over to the Club Lounge to see if I could get a drink and have a few snacks before dinner. Located on the 7th floor, the lounge offers a spacious area to work and enjoy terrific views of the skyline and airport operations.

Walking in I was expecting to eat a few pretzels or chips and have a diet coke. However, I was surprised to find that the evening “hors d’oeuvres” service was actually a meal in itself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lounge this well geared toward vegetarians and people with allergies. Not only was the spread large, but it was well labeled with items containing nuts or meat. There was also a decent selection of made to order cocktails.

I stuck around for a few hours here just soaking in the views and getting some of my editing done for the blog. I could just seat here for hours on end working and watching planes roll by.

Service at the lounge was fantastic. Plates were cleared immediately and the lounge staff made sure that everyone had enough to eat or drink. A quick shout out to Crystal (hope I spelled her name correctly) for the great service and fun conversation.

Breakfast (6 am – 10am): 

Breakfast is served everyday at the lounge from 6am – 10am. The food spread was again a step above what you would normally find at a Marriott hotel. Just the fact that they have a machine making freshly squeezed orange juice really makes you understand that bit (you never see that at a Marriott, let alone any chain hotel). The baked goods were all extremely well presented and they certainly didn’t taste like they were just bought in a box at Walmart or Sam’s Club.


Bottom Line: 

The Marriott Calgary Airport Hotel is my new favorite in that category. The hotel possesses all the desirable attributes: unbeatable location, friendly service, marvelous views, fresh rooms, and perhaps one of the best club lounges I’ve seen to date. The fact that the hotel is available for reward nights and the annual free night certificate is just icing on the cake. Overall, I would say lately Marriott has really upped its game with regard to how fresh their rooms are and what’s on offer at the club lounges. After my recent stays at some of its full service “Marriott” branded properties, I even prefer them to the Westin properties I’ve seen in North America. So the merger might not be all that bad for us SPG loyalists. Lastly, if I dare say so, Canadian full service hotels always seem to offer better accommodations and friendlier service than their American counterparts.


What’s your favorite airport hotel?