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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hoover, Alabama / Marriott Courtyard Birmingham Hoover

November 2015, Weekend, 1-night, King guestroom 331

The sunset and sunrise views from guestroom 331 were great. In fact, I imagine the views from this guestroom are better than any of the other guestrooms. 

sunset view from balcony
in guestroom 331
Our overall experience at this hotel, however, was not the best. 
sunrise from guestroom 331

Check-in and arrival

I received an email from Marriott a day or two before my stay promoting "pre" check-in. It said that if I checked in on the Marriott app, I would be entered into a points drawing. I was not sure how the Marriott check-in app worked, so I decided to look at it. Based on my experience with other hotels, I expected to see a diagram of hotel rooms to choose from, and then be able to choose my room or back out of the process. Instead, after I entered my arrival time, I received a message that said I was all checked in. I did not even have the option to "confirm" my check-in before the process completed.

Before our arrival, I had read a review from a Platinum guest who was upset because he had not been given a balcony guestroom. I had asked for a balcony when I made my reservation, and when we arrived, I asked if the guestroom assigned to me, room 339, has a balcony. The front desk agent told me it did; however, she ended up reassigning me guestroom 331 instead. She said she was doing this because she was not sure if maintenance was done installing the new slider in guestroom 339. Her remark did not make sense to me, since I arrived at the hotel 1½ hours later than the time I had chosen for my arrival when I completed pre-arrival check-in.

guestroom diagram

Later, when I looked at the building and the diagram, I saw that my original guestroom, number 339, does not have a balcony. All of the shorter guestrooms in the diagram are rooms without balconies. The review I had read from the Platinum guest said he was upset because 90% of the guestrooms in this hotel have a balcony, and he thought that was a lousy way to treat a Platinum guest. I tend to agree with him. My status was only Silver at the time of this stay; however, it had been Gold and Platinum for years prior to this stay, and the hotel was not very full.

I had booked the AAA hot deals rate, which sometimes includes breakfast, so I inquired about this during check-in. I did not think the rate included breakfast this time; however, I wanted to make sure. The agent said it did not look like it included breakfast, and I said okay. She then added that she would check with her manager, as she was sure there was something they could do. She said she would call me and let me know. I was impressed when she said this; however, no one ever called me.

Guestroom 331

This guestroom is located at the end of the hall on the top floor. If you like top floor guestrooms, this room is in one of the better locations. It is at the end of the hall near the back elevator and stairwell. A small body of water behind Chace Landing is partially visible from the balcony in this guestroom. You can see this in the sunset photo at the top of this blog post. More photos of this hotel can be found in the Hoover, Alabama ~ Marriott Courtyard Facebook album.

The guestroom contained a king size bed, two night stands, lamps, alarm clock, flatscreen TV on an armoire, small fridge, sofa, coffee table, two telephones, and a large desk and chair. An ice bucket, glass glasses, and a single serve coffeemaker with supplies were on the desk. The fridge was located in the armoire.

A closet located across from the vanity near the entrance contained a folding luggage rack, iron, ironing board, several hangers, and extra bedding.

The vanity amenities included Paul Mitchell shampoo, conditioner, and bar soap. Body lotion, and body wash were not provided.

The toilet, and tub/shower were located in a spacious room next to the vanity. The towels were clean and in good condition. There was a door, which could be closed, between the vanity and toilet/shower room.

There were a couple of maintenance issues in this guestroom. The toilet kept running every time after it was flushed, and we had to jiggle the handle to get it to stop. The A/C was on when we arrived (it was not needed!), and we immediately turned it off. It was still running about five minutes later, so I called the front desk, and the agent sent a technician to the room. Apparently the battery was low, which made the unit malfunction. He seemed to know that this was probably the problem because he bought a new battery with him. The wall behind the door must have been damaged from the door knob and partially repaired. There was filler on the wall, which had not been painted.

The entire guestroom did not smell fresh. The furnishings smelled old and dusty, including the bed. We placed a clean sheet from the closet over the sofa to sit on because it smelled so unfresh. The bed sheets looked clean. The bed mattress was very hard.

The balcony door had a full screen, and the door opened fully. We were happy for the fresh air until someone started smoking nearby. The odor came and went as though someone was smoking on their balcony, although we did not go outside to see where the smell was coming from. We had noticed people smoking in the courtyard earlier. The outside light on the balcony was on all of the time. We could not find a light switch to turn it off.

The wireless Internet connection speed was good.

Outside courtyard, pool, lobby area

The outside pool was closed at the time of our stay. The outside seating looked comfortable, although we did not sit down to try it. The guestroom diagram shows a whirlpool tub behind the fitness center; however, there is no longer a tub at the hotel. The front desk agent saw me looking around the next morning, and asked if she could help me find something. I asked about the whirlpool, and she told me it had been taken out for bacteria reasons.

There was a nice fireplace in the lobby, and the seating area looked comfortable.


I had received a bill under the door so when we were ready to leave the next morning, I called the front desk to let someone know we were leaving. After I tried twice, and got no answer, I realized I could probably checkout on my phone app. I looked at the Marriott app, and sure enough the checkout option was available. I then checked out using the Marriott app. I did not receive a checkout email with the folio like I usually do after a Marriott stay. I do not know if that is because I used the app, or if Marriott has changed the procedure for this.

Dining and misc.

Other than Jim 'N Nicks Bar-B-Q next door, we did not see any restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. There were other restaurants close by; however, there were no sidewalks for walking, and the road in front of the hotel is a fairly busy main road. The lobby restaurant and bar in the Courtyard was dark, and it looked like it was closed. I imagine we probably could have gotten something to eat or drink there, if we had asked.

This hotel has great potential, although it seems a bit neglected. The pictures on the Marriott website are pretty accurate, although the furnishings are actually more used than they look in the photos. The sofa in our guestroom was kind of sunken in the middle, which is somewhat visible, if you click on the photo above to enlarge it.

My experience at Marriott Courtyard is usually superior to my experience at Holiday Inn Express, and I think most travelers expect Marriott to be a higher class hotel. That was not my experience this trip. The Bowling Green, Kentucky Holiday Express we stayed in the night before our stay at this Courtyard was a much more pleasant stay.

If you have read any of my prior reviews, you probably know that I dislike dishonesty. I do not expect to receive the world when I travel; however, I do expect to be treated with respect, and as a valued customer. The front desk agent was dishonest with me twice--she told me guestroom 339 has a balcony, and she said she would call me about breakfast after she spoke with the manager. She could have just made the room change without giving me the excuse about the balcony door. And, I would have been perfectly happy, if she had left things as they were after she said breakfast was not included. However, since she had told me she would check with the manager and then call me, I expected her to call me. Her dishonesty was the start of my dissatisfaction with this stay, and things went downhill from there.