Overview: It’s been a few years since the 878-room JW Marriott rose up in the former parking lot of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles in the complex that is now called L.A. Live. The glamorous JW is Marriott’s most luxurious brand, to be outdone only by the group’s Ritz-Carlton (which occupies the highest floors of this building). And when the JW came to town, it forever changed the trajectory of the hotel scene in the city’s historic core.
The Location: Downtown has become L.A.s most vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. Being adjacent to the convention center, the entire LA Live complex naturally feels a bit touristy, but there’s a vibrancy to the area that’s impossible to deny and easy to enjoy. (The outstanding Faith & Flower restaurant is just around the corner, as is John Sedlar’s groundbreaking pan-Latino restaurant Rivera.)
The Room: 1467, Junior Suite. The suite is big and beautiful, with two separate sitting areas, both lovely, decorated in shades of powder blue and soft tangerine. Even though this is not a super-high floor, the view of downtown L.A. is great. The king bed is sublime, dressed with high-quality linens and plush down pillows. The bathroom is huge, with a double vanity and a shower big enough for an orgy, so why didn’t they give the toilet its own little closet when there was more than enough room for that? Sadly, the towels are worn out and scratchy, like they should have been replaced long ago. And although there are plenty of electrical outlets at the desk, there are none next to the bed, which seems very 1980.
Food/drink: A flyer in the room advertises a gorgeous, delicious-looking room-service pizza. Sadly, when the pizza arrives, it looks NOTHING like the advertisement. Given that the hotel’s main restaurant, run by absentee celebrity chef Kerry Simon (from Las Vegas) is about to close and make way for hometown chef Ben Ford’s new Filling Station gastropub, I opted to skip it for now. The Illy coffee bar is great.
WiFi: Fast but not free. $13 per day for basic; $15 if you want high-speed.
Public spaces: The lobby feels like a Las Vegas casino, a big splashy, impersonal atrium with vibrant colors, loud echoes and huge crowds. The floor of one of the elevators is sticky and nasty; someone apparently spilled a drink the night before, and still nobody has cleaned it up the next day. The pint-sized pool is way too small for a hotel with nearly 900 rooms, with every chaise taken and crumpled dirty towels everywhere — the worst of Vegas, in miniature.
Service: This is what was most surprising about the JW Marriott. The service was terrible, from check-in to check-out. There was a huge line at check-in, with only one front-desk clerk on duty and absolutely no one on hand to greet arrivals. It was a similar scene when checking out. The valet station is run like a cattle drive, with less humor. Pool attendants seem to have completely abandoned their posts and run for the hills. The service at the much cheaper Marriott Courtyard across the street is far superior to the service here, and that’s completely unacceptable.
Cost: $369, plus taxes and fees. Parking, $42.
Bottom line: This hotel’s glory days didn’t last very long. The beautiful rooms aside, the hotel feels like a standard Marriott, not a JW. There’s no excuse for such horrible towels in a luxury category like this. More importantly, nice rooms alone are not why customers develop loyalties toward certain brands. Service is key. It’s what makes people return — or not. And based on the uncaring, amateurish service and the inattention to details at this JW, I would never return. I would rather stay at the Courtyard, or another brand entirely.
JW Marriott at L.A. Live
Where: 900 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles