Best Marriotts in the US to spend your free nights

Marriott provides many opportunities to earn free category 1-5 nights.  Their credit cards each offer a free cat 1-5 night per year.  They frequently run “Megabonus” promotions in which two stays results in 1 free cat 1-5 night (make sure to register!).  And, the best value Marriott Travel Package results in a certificate for up to 7 nights in a category 1-5 hotel (see: 12 things you need to know about Marriott Travel Packages).

I previously posted the best places to use your 7 night travel package certificates: Top 5 Cat 5 Marriotts in the World (even if you read this before, check it out again since I’ve added a 6th property to the top 5 list).

The international top 5 (now 6) list is great, but what if you need to use up free night certificates closer to home?  Are there any category 5 Marriotts in the United States worth traveling to?  Personally, I don’t find any of them compelling enough to want to stay for 7 nights, but if you have one or more individual free nights from the Marriott credit cards or Megabonus promos, I found quite a few that could make for a nice weekend getaway.

I scoured through Marriott’s list of category 5 properties in the US (found here) to find the gems that were highly rated.  My goal was to find hotels that appear to well located for a weekend getaway.  My secondary goal was to find the properties that represented good value for your points or free night certificates, so I removed hotels that typically charge less than $150 per night.  Next, based on reviews, location, and appearance, I picked the ones I consider to be the best.  Note that I have yet to visit most of these, so this collection is based entirely on internet research…

Sorted by state, here we go…

Alabama

 

Arizona

Arkansas

Courtyard Hot Springs
This one gets excellent reviews and appears to be in a good location for exploring Hot Springs.

California

Residence Inn Long Beach Downtown There are slim pickings for desirable category 5 hotels in California. This one looks more appealing than most.

 

Residence Inn San Diego Oceanside. This one gets good reviews, but despite the name it is not near the ocean

Georgia

Florida

Residence Inn West Palm Beach Downtown/CityPlace Area
This one doesn’t exactly offer a beach getaway, but if you want easy access to shopping and/or to Palm Beach, it might be right for you.

Idaho

Kansas

Louisiana

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

North Carolina

AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown This one isn’t open yet, but it looks like it will be a great place to stay when I visit my alma mater!

Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown
This one has all-suites and offers a rooftop bar in downtown Raleigh.  Yes please.

Texas

JW Marriott Houston This is the only category 5 (or below) JW Marriott in the United States.

Virginia

Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City
This could be a great home base for exploring the Washington DC area.

Washington

The Davenport Grand, Autograph Collection
Spokane Washington has three (three!) category 5 autograph collection hotels.  They all get great reviews.  I picked one somewhat randomly. You can find all three here.

Wisconsin

 

Reader Input

If you have any experience with the category 5 hotels listed here or with any I missed, please comment below! Thank you!

 

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Al
Guest
Al

The Sortis Hotel in Panamá is a worthy choice

Aaron
Guest

Greg,
I think the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport should get an honorable mention here, at least for the Av Geeks. It’s a Cat 5, old but well maintained hotel. It has an awesome atrium, and the view from a room facing the runways is AWESOME!

I stayed there earlier this year using my cat 5 certificate from my chase card, in lieu of spending $215+ that night. The money savings was great, the view of the airfield was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Aaron
Guest
Preacher
Guest
Preacher

The Renaissance Tulsa, OK is great, and is only a category 4. Concierge lounge, pool, sauna, hot tub, big breakfast buffet when the lounge is closed. Love it there!

Gisele
Guest
Gisele

Woah, I’m surprised by what a great location the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City is! One could walk to the Pentagon City Metro Station and be at the White House in about 15 minutes. People always ask me where they should stay while visiting Washington DC and I’m going to start referring them to this location. As an aside, just for you guys, the Pentagon City Mall – A Simon Mall, is really close by. 😉

Tom
Guest
Tom

Yes, using the free night that comes with the Marriott VISA will never get you anything like what you can get with the IHG annual free night. I don’t know why Marriott and Chase can’t do better than a free night at a cat 5. It was a good offer when Marriott only had 6 categories but they are closing in on 10 categories now. You won’t get a huge return for your $85 annual fee, but you’ll do a little better than break even..

Boonie
Guest
Boonie

Would be nice if your could stay at ANY property or at least move it up a tier!

Boonie
Guest
Boonie

You are right about California, I had been searching in the San Diego area and came up with nothing:(

JustWingIt
Guest
JustWingIt

Two main reasons I gave up on the Marriott VISA years ago was the increasing devaluation of the points (more and more reward categories) and the ability to find a decent hotel to use our annual cat 5 hotel certificates (unfortunately we are in California).

xgerman
Guest
xgerman

I stayed at the Residence Inn Sorrento Valley (San Diego) over the Spring. They had a pool the kids loved and everything was fairly close by car — http://www.marriott.com/hotels/quickView.mi?marshaCode=SANAA&pin=17&map=true&view=&marrOfferId=

Paul
Guest
Paul

Renaissance Westchester is a cat 5 and right near White Plains. Might be one of the closest to NYC. Has an exec lounge and free parking. Decent choice if you have business or leisure plans in Westchester or Connecticut. Daughter goes to school there so it works for us every year.

JustWingIt
Guest
JustWingIt

The two main reasons we dumped our Marriott VISAs years ago was the increasing devaluation of the Marriott reward program (like the increasing number of categories) and the inability to find value in our annual free night certificates (Yes, we live in California).

Steve
Guest
Steve

How can you recommend a hotel that
1) opened like a week ago, and
2) sucks
specifically the AC Hotel Atlanta Buckhead at Phipps Plaza

technically i’m exaggerating since it’s been open around a year, but it shouldn’t have opened when it did. Elevators and escalators not working, staff completely untrained and “Green” (no experience), extremely high volume music everywhere, motion sensors for lights don’t function properly, only 5 or 6 story hotel on one of the noisiest/busy/traffic corners in Buckhead, no breakfast for elites (AC Hotel).

In short, it’s not a very good hotel, unless you love shopping at Phipps Mall (since you just have to walk across the parking lot). Of the 56 Category 4-5 hotels in GA, this is the best? There’s 4 others I’d prefer to stay at in the ATL area. Even the Atlanta Airport Marriott is better.

Renee
Guest
Renee

Courtyard downtown Memphis. It is fairly nice but the location is really good. It is right on the Main Street Trolley and across from Court Square Park. If you are in Memphis for the night life, it is located in the heart of it. I think it is 4 or 5 blocks to Beale Street. I don’t suggest drinks at The Bistro Bar, though. I about spit my wine out, when paying, as it was $17.50 for a glass of wine – I know a bottle of that wine costs about $11! The patio is really nice, right on Main Street. We used a free night certificate here, the rooms were running about $230 when we stayed.

Danny
Guest
Danny

Residence Inn at Oceanside, CA is near the beach, close to LegoLand, good shopping and dining. Cannot beat the Southern California beach hotel

P
Guest
P

“Hotels I liked because of the pictures”. Greg, have you visited one these?

Buddy M.
Guest
Buddy M.

Has anyone had any luck in getting their annual free cat 1-5 night exchanged for points instead? Having a hard time using mine right now and it expires in March.

Boonie
Guest
Boonie

You might have luck asking for an extension but not points.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Madison, WI AC Hotel. 6 months old built from scratch. Fabulous location. Arguably the best hotel in the state.

Byron
Guest

First, putting any Courtyard on that list is wrong. They do not treat Gold or Platinum well.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Go Heels! Heading to Chapel Hill this weekend to visit son, staying at the relatively new Hilton Curio. Posted rates $597, but using weekend certificate.

weedibix
Guest
weedibix

The Marriott Warsaw (Poland) downtown is quite delightful, especially if you have status there.

italdesign
Guest
italdesign

Off the top of my head:
-Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel  in Mobile, AL => not as lavish as the nearby Battle House (used to be cat5 also), but respectable.
-Renaissance St. Augustine Resort

Bill
Guest
Bill

I’ll second both of these choices. Stayed at both last year. Mobile was more enjoyable than I expected.

jess
Guest
jess

I just used mine at the Marriott St. Louis Grand. It’s a cat 5, full service Marriott right downtown St. Louis. The staff were fantastic, breakfast buffet well stocked, and in a good location to visit the Arch.

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I used mine recently at the Courtyard Keeneland in Lexington KY. It’s nice for a courtyard and the best of the Cat 5s in Lexington/Louisville.

Also plan to use one soon at the SHS near the Newark Airport for a cruise. Pretty good exchange considering how expensive NYC area hotels are.

I think CY’s treatment of MR Plat is getting better. I’ve been upgraded twice now in Memphis at CY to a suite without asking. Used to be that never happened.

Dan
Guest

The Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin TN is a nicely renovated brand new hotel. You should add this. We are going to stay there for New Year’s.

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[…] a little more per mile and make use of the 7-night cert at one of the best places in the world or within the US. But it’s not for me. It’s fun to think about, but I’ll probably sit this one […]

LG
Guest
LG

We used ours at the Renaissance in downtown Detroit. We were upgraded to an amazing room with lounge access where we enjoyed breakfast and snacks. It is a good location for nearly every sports venue in town. They also had a better military rate than what was published available for our other nights.