Review: the new Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

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This is our review of the new Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel.

In our article yesterday, we looked at why Inverness Airport has become an attractive starting point for people looking to save on Air Passenger Duty.  As airports in the Scottish Highlands are exempt from APD, you can save up to £173 per person by starting a long haul BA flight here with a connection in Heathrow.  Even better was the fact that British Airways had been running a series of especially good flight deals, with savings far beyond the APD differential, from Inverness.

One reason we don’t discuss these much is that it was inconvenient unless you were doing a back-to-back, returing immediately on the same BA aircraft from Heathrow.  For everyone else, in order to guarantee that you didn’t miss your flight from Inverness – which would be the first part of your long-haul ticket – you needed to stay overnight.  The airport lacked a hotel and accommodation in Inverness itself had poor feedback for quality and value.

The situation has now changed.  There is a brand new Courtyard by Marriott hotel directly outside the front door of Inverness airport.  I thought we should take a look.  HFP paid for its own room and the hotel did not know we were reviewing it.

The official hotel website is here if you want to find out more.

What is Courtyard by Marriott?

My experience of the Courtyard brand is slim.  There was once quite a few in the UK but the brand virtually disappeared, with many becoming Holiday Inn hotels.  It is now having a bit of a renaissance, with a Courtyard by Marriott Luton Airport opening last March (website here, we haven’t reviewed it yet).

Having stayed at two new Hampton by Hilton UK airport hotels recently (Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport review, Hampton by Hilton London Stansted review), I can say that Courtyard by Marriott is (slightly) a cut above.

In particular:

  • you get a proper wardrobe
  • you get individual toiletries in the bathroom
  • the food in the restaurant was higher quality
  • you get a little mini-market in the lobby

None of these would have been deal breakers if they were not there, but together they made a noticeable difference.

Where is Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport?

I’m always suspicious when people say ‘you can’t miss it’ but, as the hotel is the only building in the area, it is true in this case.

Walk out of the door, look left and there it is:

Review Courtyard Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

You can cut through the car park or there is a slightly longer footpath around the edge of the airport which would be easier with luggage.

Here is the exterior.  This is a PR photo as it was too cloudy when I arrived to really catch it well!

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

Check-in

Check-in was friendly and efficient although with no mention of my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium privileges.

Here’s the thing.  As a Titanium member, I should be offered 500 Bonvoy points or a $10 food and beverage credit as my welcome gift.  If I am not offered it during the check-in process, the hotel has to pay me $50 cash.  No excuses allowed.  (The compensation goes as high as $100 at some Bonvoy brands.)

And yet …. the hotel had only been open a week.  The woman who checked me in was very young and potentially in her first job.  The hotel seemed to have around 10 guests and I doubt it is getting busier in a hurry.

I didn’t feel right whacking them for $50 cash (not room credit, the rules say cash).  To be totally honest, I also didn’t fancy the 20 minute conversation with the manager which would have been required to trigger the guarantee, as it must be claimed whilst you are on the premises.  I wasn’t even sure it was a good use of my time, so I let it slide.

My room at Courtyard Inverness Airport

The room was a little bland (white walls, white desk, lots of brown furniture) but well appointed.

I was given what is probably the best room they have, given the lack of suite upgrade options!  It was on the top floor, on the side overlooking the airport.  This gave me a decent view of the aircraft, terminal and hills beyond:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

You can just see two Loganair aircraft in the image above.  Here is the room itself:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

and (note the proper wardrobe, kettle and the empty fridge and safe in a cupboard under it):

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

Whilst I didn’t try it, the TV system allows you to cast content from your phone or PC onto the screen.

There was a decent desk, with a socket under it and two additional sockets, plus 2 x USB sockets, next to the bed:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

and a decent bathroom, with individual toiletries and a decent quality shower (no bath):

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

All in all, I was impressed.  My only gripe was the heating, which eventually worked OK but is confusing to understand.  The control panel has eight separate buttons on it …..

Fitness Room

Here is a picture of the ground floor fitness room.  There are a few weights as well, plus disposable headphones:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

The lobby area at Courtyard Inverness

Next to the lifts is the little mini market.  I liked this – you could buy a microwavable snack, toiletries, wine and beer and ice cream:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

And it was well stocked with …..

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

The rest of the lobby is open plan.  In the picture below, you have the bar to the left and the reception area in front of it:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

and this open plan seating area:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

I liked it – there were a few guidebooks scattered around and it was fairly homely, although some more tourist leaflets etc wouldn’t go amiss.

At the back is a small working area, although as the rooms have decent desks I think you would only need to use this if you had any printing requirements:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

In the evening, I had a chicken burger and a can of Brewdog Punk IPA.  The good news is that the burger was very good with two large slabs of chicken breast.

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

The downside was the price – £21 for the burger and the beer.  You can just about, at a push, get away with this in West London but possibly not in Inverness.  I had only paid £66 for my room.

To be fair, I had the option of microwaving something from the mini market.  You can also do the 90 second walk back into the terminal, although the restaurant shuts when the last aircraft departs, which was 7pm on the day I was there.

The next day, breakfast was served from a long table at the back of the lobby area:

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

It was a decent selection of cereals, fruit, pastries and hot items (sausages, beans, scrambled eggs etc).  There was no printed menu available but I was told the kitchen would also cook any other egg dishes I wanted.

Review Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport hotel

Breakfast is not free at Courtyard hotels even for elite members.  That said, I was not charged – the hotel had decided to drop its buffet for a few weeks and was moving purely to ‘cooked to order’ the next day whilst guest numbers were low, and they were encouraging all the current guests to eat up their stocks!

How was the Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport?

I liked it, and I recommend it.

Inverness Airport desperately needed a hotel like this.   Apart from the slightly utilitarian room decor, everything else met or exceeded my expectations.

Given the, ahem, broad spread of accommodation found in tourist areas like Inverness, I also think it will pick up business from people who aren’t actually flying anywhere.  It is a great option for anyone looking for a good value, clean and professionally run place to stay.

This is a Category 3 hotel with Marriott Bonvoy.  Rooms cost between 15,000 and 20,000 Bonvoy points per night depending on whether it is off-peak, standard or peak.  Given my 0.5p valuation for a Marriott Bonvoy point, redemptions could be good value when rooms go over £100 as I imagine they will in Summer.

The Courtyard by Marriott Inverness Airport website is here if you want to find out more.

PS.  If you missed it, here is our recent article on 10 good reasons to get the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card.

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Comments

  1. mmmm delighted to see Tunnocks caramel available in the mini mart.

  2. Scot410 says:

    Good review, although I feel you’re being a bit harsh about the rest of the accommodation in Inverness. The city generally suffers from excess demand over supply (especially over the summer), but I’ve always found the hotels and b&bs that I’ve stayed in to be excellent and incredibly welcoming. The Marriott will be a great addition for the 7am BA flight though!

  3. Paul Higham says:

    Lack of instructions for room heating / cooling systems ranked second in the list of things I hated most about hotels when I travelled for work. Top of the list was the conveyor toaster.

    • Andrew says:

      Ah, you’re clearly confused.

      They aren’t toasters, they are bread warmers.

      • Heathrow Flyer says:

        We have a conveyor toaster at work and the toast comes out perfect every time.

        3 is my benchmark setting, however I adjust +/- 0.5 depending on the freshness/temperature of the bread.

        No issues from me.

  4. We stayed at the Courtyard Gare de Lyon (in Paris) last November and it was fantastic. Nice hotel, really amazing service, and we got an upgrade to a family room with a great view (IIRC they called it a Sacre Couer view, but you had to squint).

  5. Andrew says:

    Looks good.

    One thing though, the shower. Anyone else find it impossible to use that style without soaking the floor?

  6. Adrian says:

    I was looking forward to staying here but due to the travel ban i’ll have to wait a little longer.

  7. I stayed the very same night. Signage from the airport is poor or I missed it so ended up walking along the -admittedly- quiet road from the airport.

    I would have said hello but feeling anxious about Coronavirus (worried I have it and don’t know yet so not keen on interacting, and aware that I am over reacting probably)

    Found the hotel to be soulless, the only thing to eat from the mini-market seemed to be Pot Noodles, crisps and sweets. Couldn’t see anything microwavable.

    Another annoying thing was that on the TV, the software from Marriott seems to overwright the LG TV guide so you had no idea of knowing what was on TV.

    Breakfast was OK, loved the haggis and the lady in charge was very friendly!

    My room had a great view of the apron too.

    • worried you might have it but still travelling – MORON

      • Don’t be so bloody ignorant. I have been travelling for a week and I sneezed a few times at Inverness when I landed.

  8. Concerto says:

    Really got memories of that airport. The terminal building is geophysically where the old prefab from the 1980s was (was it a prefab or a series of Nissan huts?). The car park was right in front. You could drive right up in front of the terminal and even park there. Had many a family farewell there and many a flight on Dan-Air.

  9. Not only BA flights, but some KL / AF flights are also significantly cheaper due to APD. But on the day I was looking, the hotel was £180, negating any savings at all.

    • ChrisC says:

      It’s not just no APD that reduced the fare

      BA reduces it’s own surcharges on ex-INV flights (most of the time) so people fly with then via LHR than people flying with KLM via AMS

      If the savings were just APD then people wouldn’t fo it because of the cost of the positioning flights.

      Just do a couple of dummy bookings ex LHR and ex INV and look at the fare breakdown and you’ll see a big difference in the base fare and surcharges. It’s not all of the time but usually.

      Same reson why ex DUB is cheap

  10. Just Passingby says:

    Can’t believe Rob doesn’t use a Mac

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