When the "Courtyard" line of Marriott is discussed, basic amenities, average service and a general feeling of cookie cutter, airport-esque accommodations come to mind. At least, that was my sentiment when our admin assistant at work booked a five night stay for me at this facility in October.
I couldn't have been more surprised when I arrived, and all my misconceptions were invalidated right away. The historic and ornate furnishings in the grand lobby were complemented by modern conveniences such as a automated, touch screen "concierge" which was intuitive to use, allowing users to print maps illustrating walking routes to nearby amenities.
Check in was easy, and the staff were neat in appearance, pleasant and accommodating. Having travelled all day, I stopped in at the Nineteen 26 restaurant/bar on-site. This was the first of many visits, insofar as the value is exceptional, the breakfast buffets are hearty (William makes stellar omelets with panache and efficiency), and the ambience is quiet, laid back, yet contemporary. The on-site Starbucks is an added plus for quick breakfasts, or late night beverages.
Exploring the immediate neighborhood revealed that the Courtyard has by far, one of the best, if not the best locations in Center City. The Convention Centre is a block away, there are numerous eateries (Hard Rock Cafe and Chili's) as well as retail shops (Macy's, Banana Republic et. Al) in the vicinity. Numerous historic landmarks including the infamous City Hall and the Reading Terminal Market are also literally across the street and are both worthy of a visit.
The accommodations themselves were average to above average. While the rooms are a little dated (staff mentioned that an update is scheduled starting December), the guest rooms were expansive with 10' ceilings, plush carpets, and a large flat screen TV with many HD channels. The HVAC in then room was older, but quiet, and capable of tailoring the temperature in the room quickly on demand. Water pressure in the shower was mediocre, and the hardware was a little dated and tarnished. Housekeeping's knack in replenishing supplies daily with brand name toiletries made up for these shortcomings. The guest room was generally clean, and freshened up every day, save for a mattress stain (wine?) and the rather sparse linens which didn't fit the mattress properly. This was more of an annoyance than a shortcoming.
I was also surprised to see a security reminder on the interior of the room door, and on more than one occasion, I remarked a uniform security patrol on guest floors. The perception of security while reassuring, had me asking just how safe the downtown core of this large city really is.
In sum, I would not hesitate to recommend this facility, or stay here again during future visits to Philly. The calibre of service is on par with accommodations costing two or three times as much, and the location is by far, one of the best virtues of the Courtyard overall.