Located just outside the main touristy area, the Tijuana Marriott is a nice hotel that delivers everything you expect from the Marriott brand. As expected during Covid times, the hotel has made changes to its offerings but does a great job with the limitations. The downside was the service which I can only describe as schizophrenic. Overall, I wouldn’t mind staying here again but I wouldn’t hesitate at a different option if one were offered.
About a 10 minute uber drive from the border, the hotel is located just outside the main touristy area. It’s certainly quieter and you won’t have hordes of drunks stumbling through the streets at the early hours.
The TJ golf club is right next door and depending on your room, you’ll have a nice view of it. Also, the hotel is across the street from the Caliente track and casino. (Side note: you can play your favorite table games and slots here but you can also bet on sports, which makes it popular with a lot of sports bettors…the main sportsbook is upstairs and very nice).
As you walk in, you’ll see the bar area to your right and a sitting area to your left. In the far left corner is a small gift shop in case you need some souvenirs. There’s also a Starbucks just past the bar. In the corner between the bar and the Starbucks is the restaurant where breakfast is served.
I was upgraded to a Lounge level room due to my Platinum status and was given room 1010. I really wasn’t expecting much since I had literally just booked the room 10 minutes prior to arrival.
The 10th floor is where the M Lounge is located and you’re in the middle of the lounge as soon as you step off the elevator. Unfortunately the lounge was closed due to Covid, but it’s easy to see that it’d be a great lounge when operational. The lounge space was divided with a seating area with couches on one side and a food station area on the other.
The room had a king bed and a desk with all the power ports you could possibly need. There was also a small table and a couple chairs. The room also had all the standard amenities including a safe and iron. As for the view, the room looked out onto the parking garage for hotel guests, the golf course, and the city.
There is a pool and a gym onsite with the gym being open 24 hours. Behind the pool is a large empty space that I imagine is used for special events since I didn’t see it being utilized for anything.
Breakfast and restaurant
Because the lounge was closed, I was offered breakfast at the restaurant downstairs. The selection was massive as anyone who has been lucky enough to be served an authentic Mexican meal can attest. From all kinds of sweet breads to an egg station to sushi, the food options seem endless and you can easily eat until you’re sick. The options were surprising. What was also nice was that they served breakfast until noon. That allowed me to sleep in and enjoy not just breakfast but also a bit of lunch since the restaurant was transitioning to the lunch menu.
I’m not sure what to make of the service here because it was so drastically different. Black or white. Up or down. Right or wrong. Take your pick. On one hand, I’d say the service was exceptional and worthy of a 5 star review. On the other, I’d say the service was pathetic and borderline nonexistent. I’ll start with the bad but let me explain…
After settling in, I made my way downstairs to the bar to have a late lunch. When I got there, I stood at the podium and waited to be seated because I wasn’t sure what the seating protocol was during Covid. There were about 7-10 staff members milling about but not one came over. Finally, I got the attention of one of them and asked if I could just sit anywhere.
As I sat, I asked for one of the four tvs to be changed so I could watch some of the baseball playoffs. The bar wasn’t busy and there were maybe 4 other customers and none were paying any attention to what was being shown. Also, one of the tvs wasn’t even turned on so I definitely wasn’t “stealing” a channel from another customer.
Now I knew the baseball was being shown because I was watching it in my room prior to coming down. It was actually on two different channels because it was being broadcast in both English and Spanish. It took 30 minutes for the channel to finally be changed and I honestly don’t know what made it so difficult. It seemed like the staff knew about my request to have the channel changed but didn’t do anything about it. It seemed to me like I was just being ignored. The food I ordered obviously took just as long.
Another example was during breakfast. I was seated quickly but no one came to ask for my drink order (meaning coffee). I did turn over my coffee cup so I would hopefully get the attention of someone but no one ever came to my table. Even after getting my food and sitting back down, no one came by. I actually had to ask for utensils (since they weren’t there when I sat due to Covid) and even then, they just brought them and quickly left before I could request some coffee. Sure it was busy. But there was a lot of staff and two were just standing on the side chit chatting. I was offered coffee right when I was about to leave, which at that point, I just declined, shook my head, and left.
However, there were some amazing highlights as well. After getting back to the hotel, I had the opportunity to take advantage of some food and beverage offerings in the bar since the lounge was closed due to Covid. There is a special menu for lounge eligible guests and since I had some time to kill, I ordered some nachos and a drink.
Here, the service was amazing. The staff this time were insanely attentive and incredible. As soon as I was seated, I was given a menu with the complimentary lounge offerings as well as offered a drink. Without fail, it seemed like a staff member was asking if I needed anything every few minutes. Refill? Bar nuts? Food? Water? Anything? I can’t say enough about how great the staff was.
The service was just so drastically different I don’t know what to think. I’m not an overly needy guy and most of the time I prefer to be left alone. But I can’t change the channel if I don’t have access to it. I can’t just walk behind the bar and help myself to food and drinks. I can’t grab utensils or pour myself some coffee if I don’t know where it is. It was just so Jekyll and Hyde that I seriously don’t know what to think.
I think the hotel is fine. It’s everything you expect from a Marriott in terms of a room and amenities. Although I wasn’t able to use the lounge, I can imagine how it must be when operational. But the service was just so wild I don’t know what anyone should expect here. Would I stay here again? Yes…but only if a better option isn’t available.