The Best Marriott Category 1-5 Hotels in 2018

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Marriott Rewards has nine hotel categories that range from 7,500 – 45,000 Marriott points per night, and that’s not even counting the various Ritz Carlton tiers or the Starwood properties you can book by transferring your Marriott points to Starwood. However, it is only the first five Marriott hotel categories that come into play for those with the very common Marriott Category 1-5 award certificates. These certificates are awarded via the Marriott co-branded credit cards and many Marriott bonus promotions, but they can present a challenge to use since there are thousands of Marriott properties where you cannot use as they are ranked Category 6 or higher.


Because of the prevalence of the category limitations on these awards, finding the best Category 1-5 Marriott hotel is always an issue. Not only is finding the best Marriott Category 1-5 hotels a bit of a challenge, but the list is ever-changing thanks to hotels coming, going, and changing category. I wrote a post on this topic just a year ago, and most of the information on it is already outdated due to category changes. Now that the 2018 Marriott annual category adjustments have happened, it is time for a fresh look at the best Marriott Category 1-5 hotels in 2018.

Note that not only are Marriot 1-5 properties important for the 1-5 certificates, but also for the Marriott Hotel + Air packages that lump together airline miles and 7 nights at a Marriott property. With the Marriott Hotel + Air packages, the base level packages include seven nights at a Category 1-5 Marriott property + anywhere from 35,000 – 120,000 airline miles. This really can be a good deal for the right family, but finding a Marriott Category 1-5 property that you want to spend a week as part of that package can be a bit of a challenge at first.

Whether you are looking to just spend a night somewhere using a Marriott Category 1-5 certificate, or you want a full week as part of a Marriott Hotel + Air package, let’s take a fresh look at some of the best Marriott Category 1-5 properties around the world in 2018.

The Best Marriott Category 1-5 Properties Around the World

Headquarter out of Phoenix for an Arizona adventure.

There are a number of Category 5 Marriott properties in the Phoenix area including the new Courtyard Phoenix Downtown, The Courtyard Phoenix Camelback, AC Hotel Phoenix Tempe/Downtown, and a new Residence Inn Phoenix Downtown.

Courtyard Phoenix Downtown

Ski and Stay in Salt Lake City

Similar the situation in Phoenix, there are a couple Salt Lake City Category 5 Marriott properties, such as the brand new AC Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, that very much has caught my eye as being a good place to rest between outdoor Utah adventures such as skiing or hiking.

The Fairfield Inn and Suites Salt Lake City Downtown and SpringHill Suites Salt Lake City Downtown are also Category 5 budget-friendly Marriott options to stay in the vicinity of all that Salt Lake City has to offer.

California Adventures

Having fun in the California sun is a travel goal shared by many families, and fortunately, there are Category 5 Marriott hotels in and around Anaheim, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and more. You can easily put yourself near wine tasting, ocean breezes, and California theme park fun. The hotels themselves may not be the most memorable part of your trip, but some of the cities where the hotels are located do rank very highly for family fun.

Springhill Suites Huntington Beach

Some examples of California Marriott Category 5 properties include the Courtyard Cypress Anaheim Orange County, the fresh-off-the Category 6 list Courtyard Anaheim Resort/Convention Center, the Fairfield Inn and Suites Palm Desert in Palm Springs, and the new SpringHill Suites Huntington Beach Orange County.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Palm Desert in Palm Springs

Family Fun in Florida

Florida has no shortage of hotels, so thankfully there are Category 5 Marriott hotels pretty much all over the Sunshine State that can put you close to everything from the big Orlando theme parks to beaches in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and beyond. Many of these will be the Courtyard and SpringHill Suites type of properties, but since you will probably be spending all days outdoors, what you are probably after is a clean place to sleep and shower at night.

I mean, when you can see roller coasters from your window, how much time will the kids want to spend in the room?

TownePlace Suites Orlando at SeaWorld

A few examples of Florida Category 1-5 Marriotts are Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village, Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista, TownePlace Suites Orlando at SeaWorld, Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Courtyard Miami at Dolphin Mall, and the Residence Inn Miami Aventura Mall.

Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista

Visit the Lone Star State

Texas is a big, diverse, and inexpensive place to vacation, shop, and explore. If you find yourself in my home state, your Marriott Category 1-5 certificates can go a pretty long way thanks to a pretty low cost of living and visiting. You can stay at a Category 5 Marriott in a very nice part of Houston next to some world-class shopping at the JW Marriott Houston across from the Galleria and the next day head down to Galveston to stay at the beachside TownePlace Suites Galveston Island.

JW Marriott Houston

If you crave big city life (or just have a convention to attend) in Dallas, you can use a Marriott 1-5 certificate at the AC Hotel Dallas Downtown or the Renaissance Dallas Downtown.

AC Hotel Dallas Downtown

If you would like to head to Central Texas, you can explore what Keeps Austin Weird while staying at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Austin South or drive south to San Antonio and visit the historic Alamo and enjoy the festive Riverwalk while staying at the quant Marriott Plaza San Antonio.

Those are some US-centric suggestions, so if your travels take you beyond the US borders, here are a few international Marriott Category 5 or below properties that are worth a look.

International Category 1-5 Marriott Hotels

Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino

If you are in the mood for some ocean breezes and a nice tan, you can use your Marriott 1-5 certificate in Santo Domingo at the Renaissancence Santo Domingo.

Renaissance Santo Domingo

Courtyard Montreal West Island

This Canadian hotel is a bit off the beaten path in terms of being near the popular things to see and do around Montreal, but it is a newer property where you can use your 1-5 certificates for a nice place to rest at night before you hit the ground running experiencing Quebec.

Courtyard Montreal West Island

Experience Vietnam

In Vietnam, you could use your Marriott 1-5 certificates in either Ho Chi Minh City at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon or at the upscale JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi. You will find that in some places that are outside the United States your certificates will take your way beyond a SpringHill Suites type of property.

JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi

Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi 

If you want to use your Marriott 1-5 certificate at a swanky looking hotel, then the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi deserves a look as it is gorgeous and certainly a cut above many other Category 5 Marriott properties…and it’s actually just a Category 4!

Marriott Hotel Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

Marriott Hotel Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

St. Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club

This UK based hotel is located within a 14th-century manor surrounded by 400 acres of parkland. There is also a heated indoor pool, on-site spa, restaurant, and golf courses at this truly stunning location.

St. Pierre Marriott

St. Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club

Multiple Options in Madrid

While in Madrid, you can stay at the Category 5 AC Hotel Carlton Madrid or the very well located Courtyard Madrid Princesa that just dropped from a Category 6 to a Category 5 Marriott.

Courtyard Princesa Madrid

Stay in Style in the Netherlands

If you have a Marriott Category 1-5 certificate to use in the Netherlands, you are in for a treat well beyond your basic cookie cutter Marriott as you can use it at the new Moxy Amsterdam or The Hague Marriott Hotel

Moxy Amsterdam


You can, and should, view the entire Marriott Category 5 list here to find some other gems for yourself. While we are on the topic of Marriott award stays, note that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card has a temporarily increased highest-ever sign-up bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $7,000 in the first 3 months. These 35,000 bonus points would transfer to 105,000 Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio. This increased bonus runs only until March 28, 2018, and since it is high as we have ever seen it go, if you can hit the spending requirement, I would strongly consider applying. Terms apply and you can learn more about that offer here.

I’d love to hear about some places where your family has utilized a Marriott Category 1-5 award and which favorite spots are next on your list!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Don’t forget…you can always upgrade those 1-5 certificates you get from the Vacation Packages. You don’t HAVE to use it at the 1-5, if you have the points and the desire to upgrade it.

  2. Sorry but just another nonsense article about maxing out a free night cert.

    I say this since eg who will fly to SGN or HAN for 1 night, and both cities have such low rates it usually doesnt make sense to use a free cert

    Personally I dont look to find a Cat5 for my cert but rather I try to max out savings over what the rate would be, also there maybe another chains hotel that has a cheap rate so then it also doesnt pay to blow a free cert

    Ive used my Cat5s at 3s and 4s since those rates were sky high and the exp date for the cert was fast approaching

    I never would make travel plans around maxing out any free night cert from any of the programs

    waiting for the article from a blogger saying hey dont use 25k to fly to ABC when you can save so much more using it to fly to DEF. But if you dont want or have to go to DEF what good is it that you can get 5 cents per mile rather then the .0175 going where you need or want to go. The same applys to hotels

    • Good points on needing to compare the Free Night to cash rates also. I think the point was trying to find decent properties to use the cert in light of the recent deval, but understanding cash rates is also an important piece.
      While I see where you were going with the airline comparison, I don’t think it is quite apples to apples. No one is going to fly to a certain location based on redemption value alone, just like no one is going to go to these hotels based on redemption value alone. I think MommyPoints was just trying to provide some sample locations where this certificate might still be useful, even after Marriott’s continued slaughter of their award chart.

      • Yup, just inspiration to spark ideas of where they could be used. With everything you need to compare rates, awards in other programs you have access to, etc. Hope it sparks some ideas for some!

      • I hear ya, now if there are 2 certs available (2 accts) or someone wants to stay 6 nights and will use book 4 stay 5 using their pts I also see some value

        But to use it for just 1 night and then change hotels , unless its gonna expire anyways I dont see the value. Nor unless someone was planning on hitting one of those places anyway, but for sure I wouldnt chose any of those listed hotels simply to max out the cert and to an extent many a blogger almost makes that statement

        I used to stay at The IC HKG for a weekend when in HKG or going thru there. 1 night was a cert and then 45k, then 50k then 60 k each additional night, now its 70k, not worth it to me to just go there for 1 night, Id rather use it elsewhere even for alot less value then to hop between the hotels, Trust me i hop, 4 different hotels in BKK in 1 week

  3. Using my 7 day package cert next week for The Residence Inn in Sandy Utah. It may not be the be the most expensive hotel out there to use our cert on, but being able to get a 1 bedroom place with kitchen while only being 20 minutes away from the slopes for free is a win for our family.

    Side note- I was going to go with my son this week and take him out of school to either Colorado or SLC. He has a friends birthday party this weekend and he said since he is going skiing next week with the family, he would rather go to his friends birthday party this weekend. What a kick in the….

    • I can relate. My daughter picked staying home over a final quick ski trip of the season, too. That worked out for me though as now it is a one night girls trip with no kids! It is all about balance and I believe even kids can help keep that balance if we let them.

  4. SLC also has the Residence Inn Downtown that’s a Cat 4. There’s nothing glamorous about it but it’s in a good location and has free parking. That’s a big bonus in any downtown area.

    • I’m actually home 85%+ of the time, but this blog and related duties have been my full time job for the past 6 years. I did the blog and my previous 8-5 job at the same time the first year, but that plus this plus kids wasn’t sustainable. 😉

  5. I agree with Isaac….I live in hotels nonstop and I’m not flying to any of these places for one or even two or three nights. I always stay anywhere at least a week. So I would use a one nighter maybe at an airport hotel, like the moxie at Milano MXP if I had an early flight or returning late. I may get less value by not pursuing “high redemption” nights, but at least I don’t have an extra outlay of funds. I won’t hop to a hotel for one night when I’m staying somewhere else, it is just too stressful and a waste of energies.

    • I totally agree and if I implied you should travel to any of these places for one night simply because you have a Cat 1-5 certificate, I apologize as that is not the intent. Rather, the intent is to just offer some ideas of where you can use the certificates as your travel plans permit. If you have several thanks to MegaBonus promos and the credit card, then perhaps you could make a trip of it, but otherwise, it is just one tool to remember in your travel deals toolkit. These 1-5 certs have a reputation of not being worth much as there is nowhere to use them, but the reality is there are plenty of places you can use them all over the world, you just have to dig a little.

  6. My absolutely favorite use of the the free night: visiting my daughter for Parent’s weekend at an SEC school on a football weekend. The basic Fairfield was $250 a night. And yes, we had two certificates.

  7. My Cat. 5 Marriott certificate for the 7 night package is about to expire. Can someone remind me how to renew that for another year?

    • Amy,

      Just call the Marriott Rewards customer service desk and they will be able to help. I just went through this myself and and they added another year (from the date of request).

      Good luck.

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