What if you could safely stay at a 4-star hotel — during a pandemic?
We all have experienced the pain and pressure of having to be on lockdown this year. If I’m honest, it took me a couple of months to gain the courage to travel because I battled with whether or not traveling would be worth the risk. However, I realized that many other travel lovers may be unaware of the safety precautions the hospitality industry has carefully implemented for our health and wellness needs during COVID-19.
AC Marriott in Raleigh North Hills was my opportunity to witness this firsthand.
Purpose of My Trip
As someone who loves traveling and living abroad, I started to experience a bit of cabin fever over the past few months. I needed to spend some time outside of the home – the place where I’ve lived, worked, taught my university students, exercised, gathered with household family members, etc. – and simply enjoy a change of scenery. As a single woman and solo traveler, I have grown to value my quiet time and personal space so a little weekend getaway was just what the doctor ordered.
See what I did there? ? Because, you know…I’m a doctor.
I decided to check-in on Friday and leave late Sunday morning so I could sleep in and take advantage of the hour gained due to daylight savings time. Once I had my dates in mind, I booked a Superior King Room for two nights and was pleasantly surprised that the reservation was less than $330 USD (tax included). In comparison to some of the other hotels in the same category listings, the price was almost as attractive as the image gallery!
1. Location, location, location!
Moment of Truth: Aside from the hotel being located in Raleigh, NC which made the drive from my parents’ home an hour and 20 minutes – give or take with traffic – the primary reason I chose to book my weekend at AC Marriott Hotel Raleigh North Hills is because of this:
Hunni..this incredible view! Oh my word!
Remember when I said I needed a change of scenery? Well, I had no idea just how delightful this scenery actually was! It was even more breathtaking in person.
I arrived with my mask on, checked in, and was given all the details by Sean, the utterly welcoming, satisfyingly masked concierge representative. I realized I was positively receiving more than I’d planned for. So my car wouldn’t be towed, Sean informed me of the complimentary parking for hotel guests located across the street in the Bank of America Tower, where I gladly parked on the 3rd floor. As I crossed the street from the Tower to the hotel, I was able to catch a glimpse of my surroundings and came to the conclusion that my trip was divinely planned.
Everything I would need for my stay was within walking distance! From local shops, spas and delectable eats to a lit night life, AC Marriott Raleigh North Hills has it all.
2. A Home Away From Home
Before I tell you about the surrounding shops and places to visit, I have to tell you about the room. The room was spacious, clean, and fresh. I’m a non-smoker and always request non-smoking rooms. The room smelled fresh and the view from my corner room was just as appealing as the one on the rooftop bar.
The layout of the superior king room was much different than what I’d expected. It was interesting to see the sink and mirror uniquely separated from the bathroom which had a toilet with the European/Asian flush buttons instead of a traditional handle.
There were a coffee table, a large relaxing chair, and a lamp positioned cozily in between the king-size bed and the mirror/sink combo. In the morning, I blissfully sat and read my morning devotional with a nice hot cup of coffee. It honestly felt like a piece of home. The shower was clean and sparkly and the overall feel of the room was simply perfect.
The only downside was that the room didn’t have a microwave. There was a mini-fridge and a safe to house precious belongings, however no microwave to heat up any leftovers. Although I understand that the hotel wants customers to take advantage of nearby restaurants, a microwave would’ve been nice to have, especially Friday evening. That evening, there was a curfew of 10p EST issued by the governor. Restaurant kitchens began to shut down around 8:30p and I couldn’t order dinner from any of the restaurants.
3. Shopping, Dining and Night Life
Since I couldn’t order dinner, I decided to lightly explore my surroundings to see what I’d like to do on Saturday, and guess what I discovered about 2 blocks away from the AC Marriott Raleigh North Hills???
Thankfully, Harris Teeter was in the same shopping area and I was able to grab some food and snacks to take back to the room. It was getting late and I hadn’t eaten with all the restaurants closing early.
Harris Teeter being in the neighborhood was perfect, regardless of my hotel room’s absence of a microwave. I’m not sure if I could have requested one because I wasn’t in an urgent enough situation to need to have one in the room.
Being a long-time North Carolina resident, I was surprised by the North Hills shopping mall and surroundings. During my light, Friday night excursion to explore the area, I saw so many places! There was an eyelash extension studio that I would’ve made an appointment for, had I known that it was so closeby. Not to mention, there were a few wellness spas, nail salons, clothing, and shoe boutiques, and more! In the adjacent shopping center across the road was another portion of the shopping center. There I found a Target, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, several banks, and ATMs.
With nearly 20 restaurants within walking distance of the AC Marriott, I had a plethora of choices to choose from. I could choose from a variety of cuisines: American, Asian, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, Italian, French, Mexican, and more!
I’m kinda salivating reminiscing about all the good food! ?
The location couldn’t be more perfect. I mean, seriously. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I booked my weekend getaway! I’m so glad that I did, in spite of concerns about the rising COVID cases that were reported that weekend. This brings me to my sole purpose for sharing my stay with you.
4. I felt safe to stay at AC Hotel Marriott Raleigh North Hills during COVID-19
Recently, NC underwent a brief lockdown that lasted for about 24 hours. We were under a “Safer-at-home” order and in the third Phase of our state’s reopening plan. The night I arrived at the hotel, the governor issued a mandatory curfew of 10:00p EST for everyone but rescinded it soon after. AC Marriott Raleigh North Hills made sure they were within the necessary operational guidelines of cleanliness and social distancing. There were signs that reminded everyone to wear a mask; floor placements in the elevators indicating where to stand at a safe distance away from others; and touchless hand sanitization dispensers for public use. Certain services – the pool, gym, room service, buffet – were suspended for the overall safety and well-being of guests.
I wore my mask except for when I was inside my room, dining and snapping a few unmasked photos.
5 – Level 7 Rooftop Bar
The hotel’s popular rooftop bar located on the 7th floor allowed customers to drink outdoors at 30% of holding capacity. The instructions required everyone to wear a mask when not eating/drinking/smoking, etc. When I went up to the bar, I saw only about 7-8 people inside. This included servers who willingly wore masks to protect themselves as well as customers. I thought about staying for a bit but…
…remember when I said I valued my personal space? ?
Yeah. I went back to my room and enjoyed the free wifi and selection of movies that were showing on FX and USA. I went back to the rooftop the next day and enjoy a quiet breakfast.
You can read about my breakfast review of the AC Marriott Hotel Raleigh North Hills rooftop bar here.
If you’re looking for an affordable, high-quality, clean, and safe hotel to stay in that’s within minutes of everything you could ask for, Marriott North Hills is the place to be. Not only is it in a pristine location, but the establishment has taken appropriate health and safety measures for guests. I would like to thank the staff and servers at the AC Marriott Hotel Raleigh North Hills for their hospitality. From the moment I was warmly greeted by Sean upon arrival, to the moment I left with the kind words of Alia, my stay was refreshing and exactly what I needed. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was able to experience a weekend getaway without breaking the bank and remaining COVID-free.
Will you be making any travel plans for the upcoming holidays? Comment below and let me know as I’d love to hear from you.