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At the beginning of last month I took a trip to Rio de Janeiro courtesy of the fantastic Iberia Avios promotion from last year and, for my 4-night stay, I booked the JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro on Copacabana Beach.
The hotel lobby is just inside the front doors of the property and you’ll find the front desk, the concierge, and the bell desk on the right with a seating area directly ahead.
The lack of a floor directly above the lobby gives it a bright and airy feel…and it also makes it easy to photograph.
Here’s the view from above the entrance….
…..and here’s the view looking back the other way:
There’s a small bar towards the rear left side of the lobby….
….and a small work area with two workstations towards the front.
The whole building is essentially one big hollow tower with the rooms built around a central void which runs almost the entire height of the property.
Here’s a view looking down on to the glass ceiling which covers the lobby…
…and here’s a view looking at the rooms which face inwards into the void:
Some of these interior rooms even have balconies.
During my Uber ride from the airport I used the Marriott app to check to see what rooms the hotel was still selling for the dates of my stay and, presumably because it was the last week of Carnival, the property was sold out.
As a top-tier Marriott elite I’m entitled to a complimentary upgrade at check in (up to and including suites) so this news didn’t exactly fill me with hope that I’d be moved into something better than the entry-level room I had booked.
The ride from the airport took approximately 35 minutes and I arrived at the hotel around 7:40pm.
There were no guests waiting to check-in ahead of me so I was attended to within seconds of walking through the door….and the good news followed fast.
I had been upgraded to an Ocean View room on a high floor.
I hadn’t been expecting that.
The desk agent mentioned that my room came with a connecting door to the room next to it (it was one half of a pair of rooms designed with families in mind) and he asked if this was going to be an issue.
I liked the sound of an Ocean View room overlooking Copacabana Beach so I said I’d happily take the upgrade.
Before the desk agent handed me my room card I was asked to choose between 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and a couple of amenities as my welcome gift.
Although the amenities looked perfectly nice…..
….I took the points.
JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro – Deluxe Ocean View Room
No more than 10 minutes after I arrived I was exiting one of the hotels 3 elevators on the 14th floor (of 19) and heading towards my room.
The King Ocean View rooms at the JW Marriott in Rio are set out in much the same way as most hotel room are set out
There’s a small entry hallway with closets to the left and a door to the bathroom on the right….
…which leads to the sleeping area.
The room isn’t particularly big but its size was more than sufficient for my needs.
The king-size bed dominates the room…
….and a desk (with office chair) and armchair (with ottoman) occupy the space between the bed and the window. All could have come from Ikea.
Opposite the bed is a widescreen TV and a cabinet housing a mini-fridge with a coffee maker on top.
The room is pretty well equipped with power outlets (which will accept US plugs as well as European 2-pin plugs) with two above the desk and 2 on the right side of the bed.
The left side of the bed has no power outlets at table height…..
…..but there’s a useable outlet under the bedside table…..
…and a further two power outlets nearby.
There is no storage space in the tables by the bed but the cabinet under the TV has two deep drawers and there’s hanging space and shelves in the closets in the hallway.
The bathroom looks old-fashioned (there’s no other way to describe it) and, while functional, it feels and looks like in needs an update.
The toilet area….
…and the small bathtub….
….both felt like they belonged in the last century.
The bathroom comes with a small box of amenities (like razors, toothbrushes etc…)….
…and the toiletries on offer are JW Marriott branded.
This doesn’t really give off a premium vibe.
I’ve stayed at number of other JW Marriott properties in the past 2 years (including the JW Marriott Singapore, the JW Marriot Hong Kong and the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur) and at each property the toiletries on offer were from Aromatherapy Associates so I’m not sure what’s going on with the JW Marriott in Rio.
Still, the old fashioned bathroom furniture and the in-house toiletries weren’t what I liked least about the bathroom. What I liked least was the vent above the toilet.
I didn’t notice anything in the first 24 hours of my stay but, from the second day, I could hear voices from other rooms (presumably those above and below mine) drifting through the air vent.
This wasn’t an overly big annoyance when I was in the main area of the room (the bathroom doors kept out the noise) but it wasn’t exactly pleasant when I was in the bathroom.
Speaking of noise….
On my second evening in Rio I noticed that the connecting door that was mentioned at check-in was mentioned with good reason – it’s not very good at keeping out noise.
The guests in the room next to me weren’t being loud but I could still hear their voices drifting thought the door every now and again – not ideal.
Overall there is quite a bit about the room which feels out of keeping with what I expect from the JW Marriott brand.
From the mediocre bathroom to the cheap furniture to a rustling mattress protector to the lack of soundproofing there is an overwhelming feel of cheapness wherever you look.
With the JW Brand guests are entitled to expect a level of décor and furnishings that are at least on a par with a good 4-star hotel, but there is nothing on show here that wouldn’t be at home at a 3-star airport Marriott.
Having said all that I’ll end this section on a positive note…and that’s the room’s party piece
That’s the view I woke up to each morning and it made me smile each time I saw it.
The room may be mediocre but there’s nothing mediocre about the view.
At check-in I was told that, as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium member I could choose to have a complimentary breakfast in either the hotel’s Executive Lounge or in the hotel restaurant so, as restaurants are almost always better then lounges, I had breakfast in the restaurant every day.
The restaurant is on the second floor of the hotel and is divided into two spaces.
The first space is in a traditional breakfast room and is where the daily buffet is served….
…..and the second is a few feet away, above the hotel entrance and usually bathed in morning sunshine.
Of the two spaces this is the one to go for.
Breakfast is a standard buffet which is made up of most hot and cold items you’d expect of a hotel breakfast.
On the hot food front there’s an ‘egg station’ where guests can order just about any egg dish they want….
….and there all the usual items like bacon, sausages, potatoes etc….
On the cold/continental breakfast front the Marriott offers a range of cereals, breads and pastries….
…a selection of cheeses and cold meats…
Hot drinks are made to order and can be ordered from the wait-staff.
I didn’t have any other meals at the hotel so I can’t comment on the offering.
The Executive Lounge at The JW Marriot Rio de Janeiro
As with most Executive Lounges you need a working key card to get in and, as you pass through the door, this is the view which greets you.
To the right is a railing looking into the central void, to the left is the main lounge area and, straight ahead, is an area where you’ll find a coffee maker (which also dispenses hot water for tea), a chiller cabinet with water and sodas, a printer/copier and, throughout the day, a selection of snack packs with mini-sandwiches and pasties/cakes.
The main area of the lounge isn’t very big, but it feels a lot larger than it actually is courtesy of an incredibly high ceiling coupled with incredibly high windows overlooking Copacabana Beach.
The lounge offers a variety of seating options including high-tables with stools, regular tables with chairs and a bench with chairs overlooking the beach.
There’s also a pair of armchairs pointing at one of the two TV screens.
Aside from the nice views and the incredible amount of natural light that the lounges gets it also has a plentiful supply of power outlets and USB points.
Guests who are entitled to lounge access but who aren’t allowed a complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant can have breakfast in the lounge.
This is what was on offer one of the mornings I dropped by:
Outside of breakfast time and the evenings guests can help themselves to tea, coffee and sodas as well as fruit, cookies and nuts.
In the evenings (after 5:30pm) the lounge offers complimentary wine and beer as well as a couple of hot dishes and a few plates of cocktail-style snacks and desserts.
The JW Marriott Rio offers a complimentary towel and chair service for guests who wish to spend some time on Copacabana Beach but, aside from that, all the hotel amenities are to be found on the top floor.
If you take the lift up to the very top floor of the building you’ll find a spa….
….and the hotel’s best amenity – the roof deck complete with cabanas, a pool and panoramic views of Copacabana.
In the evenings the roof deck offers music (a DJ), a bar and a mini food truck which sells snacks….
…..and then there’s always the night time views.
- The room furniture is of a lower quality than I’d expect at a JW Marriott property
- The lack of soundproofing in the room is disappointing – most hotels which have rooms with adjoining doors have two doors between the rooms to reduce noise while here it sounded like there was just the one.
- The bathroom is old-fashioned and in need of a makeover
- The general décor of the hotel (outside of the lobby) is old-fashioned
- The location is pretty good and the closest metro station is no more than 15 minutes walk
- The staff were all very friendly – especially the staff in the lounge and the restaurant.
- The views can be fantastic.
- The executive lounge was a nice place to work during the day – very light and bright, hardly any people visiting and nice views t look out on when you look up from your keyboard.
- The roof deck is a nice place to spend some time in the afternoons and early evening…although I could have done without the DJ.
The location, staff and views are very nice but there’s no escaping the fact that this isn’t a property that I recognise as a JW Marriott….and that’s a big issue.
Had this property been a plain old ‘Marriott’, the less-than-premium furniture and tired bathrooms wouldn’t have been all that surprising (that describes a large number of Marriott properties in the US), but as a JW Marriott this property falls noticeably short of the mark.
All in all I’m glad I booked this stay with points as had I paid the $300+/night (including taxes and fees) that rooms at this property regularly go for I would have been very disappointed – it’s just not worth that kind of outlay.