Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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After a month-long trip mixing business and pleasure around the U.S., it was time to head back home to London. As I always try to do, I had booked myself on one of the few day flights back across the Atlantic. I find this reduces the effects of jet lag compared to taking a red-eye that isn’t long enough to get proper rest — even when in a lie-flat seat in the pointy end.
The return leg of the business class deal I found for £1,340 (~$1,757) round-trip with Finnair and British Airways was scheduled to depart from Newark rather than JFK, which is where most of BA’s flights to London depart from. Since my flight was departing at 7:55 a.m., I thought I’d treat myself to an airport hotel to avoid the otherwise nasty 4 a.m. alarm clock that I’d have needed to set if I’d stayed another night with friends in Williamsburg.
In my book, an airport hotel is only really an airport hotel if it’s possible to get between the property and the airport on foot. That’s because by the time you’ve made it to the hotel transfer pick-up spot, waited for the shuttle, and then stopped at other pick-up/drop-off locations, you may as well have just booked a hotel in the city.
When looking on a map, the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott looked to be the closest hotel to the airport by far. I then remembered having stayed there back in 2019 and walking from the terminal to the hotel. Or did I?
I thought this would be a great opportunity to give my thoughts on whether the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott is a proper airport hotel and if it’s worth staying at the night before an early morning flight.
When booking a Marriott hotel, I always go straight to the Marriott website and book directly to ensure that my elite status gets honored and that I earn Marriott Bonvoy points and elite night credits.
I was a little shocked to find that the cheapest rate for the night I needed was $450, though I did make my booking at the last minute.Hot Tip:
Consider paying for your next Marriott booking with one of the many Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards. These cards earn bonus points on Marriott purchases and come with other benefits that can enhance your stay.
I did look ahead in the booking calendar to a date in November in the middle of the week and found rates for $356 per night, which I still found to be very high.
If I booked with Marriott Bonvoy points, one night would have set me back 42,000 points, which has a cash value of around $294 per our current points valuations. In this instance, using points would have saved me the equivalent of $156, which is a good deal. However, I decided to save my points for a different stay and pay with cash.
I also checked to see the price of hotels in Manhattan and was shocked to see budget hotels coming in at around $200 per night.Hot Tip:
Think $450 is extortionate for a night at an airport hotel? Me too. Thankfully, you can find a number of perfectly affordable hotels right in the heart of Manhattan.
If it wasn’t for this assignment, I’d have certainly been tempted by the hotels that were close to Penn Station, since they have easy access to the NJ TRANSIT train to Newark.
I paid the steep $450 nightly rate with the U.K. version of one of Marriott Bonvoy’s American Express credit cards, which earned me a total of 3 Bonvoy points per £1 spent.
The reason I picked this hotel was purely because of its location — it was supposedly within walking distance of Terminal B and was where I’d be departing from the following morning.
I’ve been misled by hotels in the past that market themselves as “airport hotels” — in reality, they actually require (sometimes costly and time-consuming) transfers to get between the hotel and the terminal.
Having remembered walking to the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott a few years ago, I was sure that I wouldn’t be let down this time.
Hotel Shuttle vs. Walking
My journey to the hotel started at Penn Station in Midtown from where I took a NJ TRANSIT train to Newark Liberty International Airport railroad station. From there, you can easily switch onto Newark’s AirTrain, which I mistakenly took to Terminal B.
When I got to Terminal B, I could see the hotel right in front of me, but it didn’t look as easy to walk there as I’d remembered.
I asked an airport employee if it was possible to walk to the property. He told me that I couldn’t and that I’d have to get a hotel shuttle bus from right out front.
When I got outside I noticed a map showing that hotel shuttles departed only from Parking Lot 4 and not from Terminal B.
At this point I wanted to just walk across the car park like I had done in 2019 but, in the name of this article, I decided I’d take the shuttle as I was supposed to.
I made my way back to Terminal B’s AirTrain station and headed 2 stops in the direction I’d just come from to Parking 4 where a shuttle bus was ready and waiting.
By this point, it was around 25 minutes after I’d initially passed Parking 4’s AirTrain station on the way to Terminal B.
What I thought would be a ride of just a couple of minutes somehow turned into a 15-minute lap of the airport.
The driver headed to pick another hotel guest up from Terminal A before taking us both to the hotel.
If I had just walked across the car park from Terminal B, I’d have arrived at the hotel a whole 30 minutes earlier.
My first impressions on arrival were as I remembered from 2019: this hotel could do with being brought out of its ’90s corporate dullness era.
Thankfully, check-in was a far smoother and quicker experience than my journey to the hotel.
I remembered that the last time I stayed I had great views of aircraft departing Newark against the backdrop of Manhattan’s skyline, and I asked if it would be possible to have a room with similar views this time around.
That wasn’t a problem and I was told I’d be on the eighth floor. I was also thanked for my Marriott Bonvoy loyalty. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member, I was entitled to a welcome gift which the check-in agent informed me could be either 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or a $10 credit to spend at the hotel.
Without saying anything, he said, “Shall I get those points added to your account?” I replied stating that I’d actually prefer the $10 (as I quite fancied a glass of wine). He responded by saying “Oh, nobody ever chooses the cash,” before rolling his eyes and adding, “We have to fill out some extra paperwork, too.”Hot Tip:
Check out our guide for everything you need to know about the elite status levels of Marriott Bonvoy.
A Room With a View
The hotel has 9 floors, of which at least the top 2 are dedicated to elite members.
I headed straight to my room’s window — with my $10 voucher in hand — to check out the view.
When looking out the window, I could see directly across the car park to Terminal B. From here I realized that a 3-lane road and about 40 feet of grass were the only 2 obstacles that might hinder an attempt at walking between the hotel and Terminal B.
After initially doubting myself, I was now sure that I did indeed walk to the hotel on my first visit back in 2019.
Even though my room was further away from the runway than last time, I still enjoyed the view of Manhattan’s skyline.
The room itself was, like the rest of the hotel, pretty drab. That said, it was perfectly fine as a place for me to rest my head for the night.
The corner sofa and desk provide a great space for those wishing to work.
The keenest of eyes among you might have noticed that 1 side of the bed didn’t have a nightstand.
As this was the best side for views of departing planes, I rested the $10 glass of terribly-tasting Bordeaux on the edge of the bed while finishing up with the day’s work. Thankfully, my $10 welcome voucher covered the damage.
The small and well-appointed bathroom was perfectly adequate for a quick 4 a.m. shower.
I must also — in the name of sustainability — acknowledge and praise the refillable shower amenities.
If you’re spending most of your time sleeping at an airport hotel, its facilities could be considered of little importance. However, 1 of the food and beverage options in particular at the Newark Liberty Marriott saved my stay altogether.
As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member, I get access to hotel lounges. These lounges are where Marriott Bonvoy elites can relax and enjoy complimentary refreshments throughout the day.
To my delight, the Newark Liberty Marriott is one of those hotels. As per the signage on the door, hors d’oevres were served from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
I dropped my bags in my room and headed straight back down to the lounge for what I thought would be a light snack.
It turns out that rather than hors d’oeuvres, a full evening meal in buffet-style was available for the taking.
There was a D.I.Y salad bar.
Along with 2 types of charcuterie and cubes of unspecified cheese.
BBQ was the theme for the hot meat options, with a choice of either BBQ pork or BBQ chicken.
Needless to say, I went for the chicken, which was actually so delicious that I went back for a second helping.
The mashed potato accompaniment was also a big hit. Let me put it this way: the less said about the amount of butter and cream used to make it taste that good, the better.
I didn’t once see a member of staff in the 15 minutes or so that it took me to wolf down my last meal in America.
No matter — being able to get a full evening meal for free (including beer and wine if I wanted it) was a great perk to have.
For those without Marriott Bonvoy elite status, Aviation Grill was serving up full evening meals for guests, and both bar and table service were available.
The Lobby Shop
For snacks, there was a lobby shop that also sold Starbucks coffee (ew).
Having already worked out before heading to the airport, I skipped the gym on this occasion.
If I’d not been heading out so early, I’d have certainly appreciated being able to enjoy a morning workout as part of my stay.
The gym, like the rest of the hotel, isn’t the most up-to-date in the world. However, there were enough free weights and cardio and resistance machines for you to get the endorphins flowing.
The reason I stayed at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott was to write this piece advising on whether or not it’s worth staying here before an early-morning flight.
To put it bluntly, the answer is a resounding no.
I was hoping that the ability to walk effortlessly (as I seemed to remember from the past) between the airport and the terminal would have been enough to seal the deal and make this property worth staying at.
As it turns out, the official way to get to the hotel from the terminal is by shuttle, meaning I no longer deem this hotel a proper airport hotel. You could always, of course, amble across the car park and a couple of lanes of traffic at your peril.
A huge plus for me as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite was being able to enjoy a full evening meal and pay nothing for it. As nice as that was, it hardly made the $450 per night rate seem any more worth it. For those without elite status, you’d have to shell out even more on a meal at the Aviator Grill.
I really thought I was doing myself a favor by staying at a hotel airport the night before flying home to London.
However, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’d recommend saving your money and staying at a hotel in the city instead — paying anywhere from $350 to $450 and still having to get a shuttle to the airport is not worth an extra hour in bed.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Ross. All images credited to Daniel Ross unless where otherwise noted.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, there are no hotels with direct, walkable access from the airport. The closest hotels to Newark Airport will require taking a hotel shuttle to and from the airport’s terminals.
Situated directly opposite Terminal B, the Newark Liberty Marriott is the closest hotel to the airport. While you can walk across a car park and cross a few lanes of traffic to get between the terminal and the hotel, the hotel suggests taking the hotel’s free shuttle.
The price of a night’s stay can vary depending on the occupancy of the hotel and how far in advance you book. The cheapest nightly rate we’ve seen at the time of publishing was $356.
The hotel is located directly opposite Terminal B at the far end of a parking lot.
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