On my trip through Eurasia, I spent four nights at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, in Georgia’s capital city.
I chose the property for its good location, and to answer the age-old question: what on earth does a Marriott get you in a post-Soviet state?
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Booking
When making an award redemption, the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel goes for 30,000–40,000 Bonvoy points per night. I was fresh out of points after dumping them all into high-end speculative bookings before the introduction of dynamic pricing, so I looked to the cash rates instead.
At the time of my stay, all Bonvoy properties in Tbilisi were offering a 20% discount on bookings of four or more consecutive nights. This brought the cost of my stay down to about US$186 per night.
This was a bit steep for my expectations, but was still one of the best options in a city that was a tad more expensive than I’d anticipated. This was the best available rate at the property, and not a lot more than the Courtyard down the street. Morbid curiosity got the best of me and I bit the bullet.
Besides, aside from my one night in Dubai, this would be my only hotel stay on the month-long trip paid in cash, the rest being funded with Bonvoy points or TD Rewards. I figured I could spare the expense.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Location
The hotel is on Rustaveli Avenue, a major thoroughfare through the heart of the city. The street is lined with a mix of high-end Western shops, as well as historic government and cultural buildings including the Parliament, the Opera and Ballet, the National Gallery (of art), and the National Museum (of archaeology).
Just down the street is the iconic Liberty Square, a roundabout on which the Courtyard hotel is situated.
Also within walking distance is the core of the Old City with historic thermal baths and Narikala Fortress towering above, the funicular up the mountain to Mtatsminda Park, and the Bridge of Peace across the river to Rike Park and other historical attractions.
If you wish to venture farther afield, the hotel is quite close to the underground metro. For a first-time tourist, however, the location is pretty much perfect.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Check-in
The hotel’s curved exterior is in the same Austrian-inspired style that marks many of the other buildings on Rustaveli Avenue.
Inside, there’s a pre-lobby space, with a waiting area and the front desk.
Beyond, the grand hall is the hotel’s crown jewel and the primary attraction of its public space. The cavernous ceiling, marble pillars, and ornate chandeliers complement the architecture of the building’s exterior.
Here, you’ll find ample seating and the hotel’s bar. The room was a popular space for hotel guests to sit and congregate in the evening.
There’s also an adjacent outdoor courtyard, an open-air atrium surrounded on all four sides by the hotel’s guest rooms and other facilities.
The check-in process was straightforward, although I was a bit unclear on the hours of breakfast service. I think something may have been lost in translation.
As a Titanium Elite member, I got a complimentary upgrade to a Junior Suite, which was confirmed upon my arrival.
For my welcome gift, I chose points over a food and beverage credit, as I didn’t want to feel tied to eating on-property.
For my welcome amenity, I received a spread of traditional Georgian nuts and dried fruits. Carefully dodging my allergens, I enjoyed everything that I was able to eat. I appreciated the opportunity to sample some Georgian delicacies at the hotel, as I knew I’d have to be much more discerning with street vendors where I might encounter a language barrier.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Junior Suite
I stayed in Room 401, accessed at the end of a private corridor threaded between other rooms.
Entering the room, the corridor layout opens up past the closet into a… room.
Seriously, it’s just a really, really, ridiculously big room.
The king bed is in the middle of the room, with a gigantic bulbous convex mirror as the centrepiece of the headboard.
Across, there’s a TV, with a minibar below.
The couch on the side unfolds into a pull-out bed, should you need extra sleeping space for additional guests.
In the corner, there’s a supportive leather chair in a reading nook.
Beside the bed, the desk embraced form over function, angled in such a way that it was a bit too shallow to be a functional workspace.
I feel like it’s a bit disingenuous to label this Junior Suite as a suite. When I think of a suite, I expect a little extra something to set it apart. However, there’s nothing here that made this room feel special, aside from its gratuitous size.
Furthermore, the views from the suite are nothing to go out of your way for. The doors to the three Juliet balconies don’t open, as a safety measure. Room 401 is courtyard-facing, so I was treated to views of bald, shirtless, middle-aged Slavic men smoking on their larger balconies on the floor below, rather than peekaboo sightlines of Tbilisi’s picturesque monasteries.
The bathroom is solid but pretty standard – vanity, toilet, shower, the works. No complaints here, but not much to say.
Amenities and a dental kit were provided, along with plentiful bottled water from Georgia’s multitude of mineral springs and glaciers.
There’s also a separate bathtub.
Looking at photos on the Marriott website, my suite wasn’t discernibly different from the base-level Deluxe King Room. Moreover, it appears that not all Junior Suites are configured the same way.
I definitely got the sense that between the configuration and view of my room, I got the short end of the upgrade stick.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Breakfast
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant from 7am to 11am.
Breakfast is provided as a buffet, with table service for coffee, and eggs made to order.
There were a few unique features of interest. Honey was served as a full honeycomb, and they had fresh-sliced ham with the slicing device readily available at the buffet table.
There was also a daily rotation of traditional Georgian food. One day they had the fruit and nuts that came as my welcome amenity. Another time, they served cheese poached in saperavi red wine, more of a novelty than a delicacy but still a welcome one.
I was particularly amused by the translations: “diabetic jam” for sugar-free, and salad being the “healthy option” (as opposed to the rest of the buffet?). I kid, but the dietary accommodations were reasonably comprehensive.
There’s a self-serve mimosa station, with sparkling wine available daily. On weekends, you can also make yourself a Bloody Mary.
As for the usual suspects, there’s fruit, pastries, bread, and a cold meat and cheese spread.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Breakfast fruit
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Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Breakfast pastries
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Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Breakfast bread
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Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Breakfast meat & cheese
4 of 4
For hot food, there’s a pretty standard selection of eggs and meat.
However, I use the phrase “hot food” loosely. Whether I arrived in the first or last hour of breakfast service, I encountered cold food repeatedly throughout my stay.
There are few things less appetizing than taking cold scrambled eggs out of your mouth just as quickly as you put them in – two days in a row, no less! The sausage was also inedibly cold.
Thankfully, I was bailed out by the made-to-order omelette bar.
As for the “hot” buffet, I stuck with the rotating Asian dishes, including chana masala and stir-fried noodles, which at least had more flavour to mask any other potential deficiencies.
For a hotel at this price point, and in the top tier of Tbilisi hotels, I’d expect better. Unfortunately, this seemed to be a classic case of high-end dining translating into low turnover, with freshness suffering as a result.
This put a serious damper on what otherwise should have been a solid breakfast based on first impressions.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Executive Lounge
Access to the Executive Lounge is available to Platinum Elite members and above, or guests staying in an eligible room.
The space is open 24 hours a day, with a good selection of self-serve bottled beverages. There’s a continental breakfast from 6:30am to 11:00am, snacks from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, and dessert from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.
I checked out the breakfast my first morning, only to find a wholly unappetizing spread consisting of a subset of the restaurant buffet. Given that I had freshness issues in the restaurant, I would not recommend eating breakfast in the lounge.
I didn’t catch the dinnertime snack buffet, but the desserts didn’t particularly enthuse me, either.
I did use the lounge to get a bit of work done one evening, for a welcome change of scenery from the inadequate desk in my suite.
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – Other Facilities
As you approach the elevators, there’s a wine shop featuring a collection of the country’s numerous traditional styles and vineyards.
Attached to the main restaurant, there’s a café on the street-facing side of the ground floor, open throughout the day to hotel guests and the public. You can also order off the café dining menu in the grand hall.
Finally, the hotel gym is one of the most peculiar I’ve ever seen. There are entrances on two floors. I came in through the lower level, complete with a rickety spiral staircase, and a carpeted foyer that destroyed any goodwill for the hotel’s aesthetic that its otherwise delightful Austrian design had built.
Upstairs, the fitness facility itself was rather small and the equipment was not very extensive.
Nice views, though! Too bad they couldn’t have put a bi-level guest suite here.
The Tbilisi Marriott Hotel is an unfortunate case of a property that punches below its weight.
On paper, in spite of its quirks, it’s not an awful place. The location is ideal no matter what your purpose in the city is. Also, the Austrian architecture is objectively appealing – grand but not grandiose.
However, elite treatment was sorely lacking. The Junior Suite configurations are inconsistent and barely felt like an upgrade. The breakfast offerings were unacceptable, exemplifying the facade of opulence that can run rampant through this embattled part of the world.
Most significantly, I’m disappointed with the value that I feel like I got for my stay. For the quality of the room and breakfast I experienced, I can’t see how the nearby Courtyard could possibly be materially worse, at a lower price point. For even further savings, there’s a Moxy within walking distance across the river, which I’ve heard good things about.
In retrospect, Georgia struck me as a country where a stay at a Marriott property is totally unnecessary. There’s a real soulful culture to the place, and the soullessness of high-end chain hotels felt like the result of a developing country not sure how to effectively harness its admittedly limited demand for luxury tourism in a satisfying, meaningful way. I would’ve been just as happy at a guest house for a quarter of the price.
Indeed, my experience at the Tbilisi Marriott discouraged me from a one-night stay at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi before my flight home. I had been curious to compare the two properties, but I really felt no compulsion to stay at another chain hotel in the city.
I was admittedly a bit cavalier with my trip planning for this chapter of my journey, jumping on an easy booking without being critical of my goals and values. Shame on me for not doing my due diligence. If nothing else, it’s a sobering reminder not to be a slave to a brand name just for their loyalty program, if you don’t feel you’re getting value back for what you’re putting in.