A week of Bonvoy: the new Marriott loyalty experience in Central Europe


Really easy to see why people love the views from the Marriott Executive Lounge in Budapest
Really easy to see why people love the views from the Marriott Executive Lounge in Budapest

It was mostly an accident. After all, I rarely spend eight days in a month staying at any one brand or chain of hotels. But last week I found myself in Budapest, Pilsen and Prague and each time a Marriott-associated property was available at the right price and location. And so, during the first official week of Bonvoy, I got to experience a trio of check-ins as a Platinum Elite (thanks to United Million Miler and RewardsPlus) and see just how well the hotels were adjusting to the new program.

Executive Apartments, Budapest

First up was a stay at the Millennium Court – Marriott Executive Apartments in Budapest. I booked the room less than 30 minutes before arriving at the hotel, from my phone while already in a taxi headed to town from the airport. Still, when I arrived at the front desk the clerk was expecting me and had a room ready as well as the various amenities.

The living room at my "executive apartment" in Budapest. Old furniture but still nice enough to get the job done.
The living room at my “executive apartment” in Budapest. Old furniture but still nice enough to get the job done.
Nothing special in the rooms at the Millennium Executive Apartments Budapest but the bed was comfy
Nothing special in the rooms at the Millennium Executive Apartments Budapest but the bed was comfy
Nothing special in the bathroom at the Budapest Millennium Executive Apartments
Nothing special in the bathroom at the Budapest Millennium Executive Apartments

The room was a one bedroom suite with separate living room/kitchenette area. It was way more than I needed for the stay, though having a large desk area to work at was helpful as I mostly was working in the room rather than playing tourist in Budapest this trip. But that was the room type I’d booked, not an upgrade. Then again, the benefits offered at Executive Apartments locations are generally close to nil so I wasn’t expecting much.



Indeed, the check-in clerk noted that typically elites don’t get anything but this particular property is a bit different. Because it is just around the corner from the Budapest Marriott Hotel the two have an arrangement whereby the manager of the Executive Apartments property can offer lounge access at the main Marriott on a discretionary basis. He handed me an extra envelope including a key card for the other property that allowed me access to the elevator and lounge.

Really easy to see why people love the views from the Marriott Executive Lounge in Budapest
Really easy to see why people love the views from the Marriott Executive Lounge in Budapest
Stellar views of the Danube from the Marriott Budapest executive lounge deck
Stellar views of the Danube from the Marriott Budapest executive lounge deck

While typically I’m no fan of hotel lounges the Budapest Marriott offers spectacular views of the Danube River and Castle across the way. I wouldn’t go out of my way to book the hotel just for the lounge, but this is one of the better versions of such, particularly with the outdoor deck, that I’ve seen in some time.

Of mild interest, the hotel had a large stack of old Marriott Rewards marketing collateral on the counter when I checked in on the 13th. On the morning of the 14th that was binned, to be replaced with Bonvoy materials.

Courtyard, Pilsen

Next up on the Bonvoy train was a couple nights at the Courtyard Pilsen, just outside Prague. When we arrived the staff once again acknowledged my Bonvoy Platinum status and noted that we had been “assigned to a Studio room, the largest in the property.”

An upgrade to a "Studio" room at the Courtyard Pilsen gave us a mini suite with a separate sitting room
An upgrade to a “Studio” room at the Courtyard Pilsen gave us a mini suite with a separate sitting room
A focus on simple functionality rather than style and design in the bathroom of our room at the Courtyard Pilsen
A focus on simple functionality rather than style and design in the bathroom of our room at the Courtyard Pilsen

We also received the new, matte black keys here showing off the Bonvoy branding.



Hotel Carlo IV, Prague

The final half of our trip was a four night stay at the Carlo IV Autograph Collection property in Prague. I mostly chose it for price and location; that it happens to be in an old, gorgeous bank building was simply a bonus.

If you aren't greeted with a harpist playing top hits every morning in your fancy hotel are you really even traveling??
If you aren’t greeted with a harpist playing top hits every morning in your fancy hotel are you really even traveling??

We were once again warmly welcomed, with bonus points offered because the property does not include an executive lounge. Alas, my luck with upgrade benefits ran out at this stage. The receptionist noted that they did not have any rooms available for the full four nights so we would just get the regular room I’d paid for. And it was a pretty nice room overall.

A standard king bedroom at the Carlo IV in Prague. Biggest problem: No useful plugs by the bed
A standard king bedroom at the Carlo IV in Prague. Biggest problem: No useful plugs by the bed

 

Definitely an upgrade in the bathroom furnishings at the Carlo IV compared to the other hotels I stayed at during the week, including a bidet option
Definitely an upgrade in the bathroom furnishings at the Carlo IV compared to the other hotels I stayed at during the week, including a bidet option

While the stays were relatively uneventful overall the tech migration/merger challenges did crop up at one point: The stay in Budapest never posted to my account. Not a huge deal and I’m sure I’ll get the points eventually. But I also know that my exposure to the tech mess on this merger is tiny compared to the issues faced by many others.

And, fortunately, the Bonvoy transition went relatively smoothly at these three properties. I’m still waiting to see horror stories from elsewhere around the globe.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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