The Newly Reimagined Huntsville Marriott
We heard rumors of the incredible renovations going on at the Marriott. When we walked through the doors, we realized what all the fuss was about. Everything looked shiny and new, from the sparkling chandeliers to the elegant and modern Barrel Room Bar in the lobby.
Perhaps this isn’t fair, but we appreciated the cleanliness and attention to detail when traveling during the pandemic. This is especially true during a staycation, when we could have just stayed at home. Instead, we immediately felt comfortable with the general cleanliness, but also the enhanced cleaning protocols. For instance, it took us a minute to figure out why a fishbowl of sanitizer was by the front desk until the hostess explained it was for guests to deposit their used room keys. It felt like they thought of everything.
A Room With a View
The Marriott is not only the closest hotel to the Space and Rocket Center, but it’s the only hotel on the property. We still didn’t realize how close we were until we stepped into our room. The iconic Saturn V Rocket was just outside our window.
We took a second to soak it all in, then continued to explore our room. The bed looked super comfortable, with down-filled duvets and pillows. It felt so cozy that we didn’t want to leave. Instead, we stayed in for sunset.
Rocket Sunsets and In-Room Dining
We considered heading down to the Barrel Room for their happy hour specials, but we couldn’t pull ourselves away from the view. Even from our 7th floor King Room, we still were looking up at the 363′ tall Saturn V. That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty from the ground to the torch or the Big Ben clock tower. It’s perhaps more iconic for space enthusiasts than either as well, since it’s still the only vehicle ever to lift humans past low Earth orbit.
Instead, we dined in the room and watched the sunset. There’s plenty of options for room service, from the hotel restaurants to delivery. However, our concierge arranged a treat for us – the Take Flight amenity. We felt it was a perfect homage to German rocket science, with a flight of three locally brewed German beers accompanied by a pretzel and sausage charcuterie board finished off with a stout chocolate cupcake topped with a bourbon swiss buttercream frosting. It was just enough to tide us over for diner. People who love their In-N-Out burger animal style will love this amenity because you will not find it on the menu, but the staff knows exactly what you’re talking about when you ask for it.
As the sunset turned from an orange glow to a distant memory, we watched the light show on the Saturn V. In November of 2019, For the 50th anniversary of Apollo 12, the Space and Rocket Center illuminated the iconic rocket with a brand new color-changing LED light system. “Huntsville’s iconic Saturn V not only towers over the landscape but now at dusk, it will glow as a welcoming beacon for citizens and visitors alike,” says Schelly Corry, the vice president of museum and exhibitions at the Rocket Center. It certainly welcomed us to our room at the Marriott Space and Rocket Center.
You can see the Saturn V from many rooms at the hotel, so be sure to ask about your view when you book. It’s worth it.
Dinner at Southern Chop
One of the things we loved most about our staycation with the Marriott Space and Rocket Center was dinner at Southern Chop. During our visit, we had the opportunity to speak with Dominique James, the restaurant’s Executive Chef. She talked about how her training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu helped her blend flavorful southern cuisine with top-shelf steaks. She looks for locally sourced food, like plump Gulf shrimp, fresh-caught grouper, or farm to table greens whenever possible.
We could hardly contain our excitement and proceeded to order way too much food. We loved the bacon steak starter, a thick cut of bacon baked in a sorghum jalapeño bourbon glaze, and the pimento mac & cheese felt very southern. For mains, we had a flavorful tea brined chicken and a tender, succulent filet. Lastly, because there is always room for dessert, we couldn’t resist finishing it off with a piece of pecan pie and a scoop of homemade Nutella ice cream…yum! Full and content, we waddled back upstairs to fall asleep under our down-filled duvet.
Space and Rocket Center Trails
If you’re feeling guilty about overeating at Southern Chop or are just trying to stay on your routine, the Marriott has you covered. They have a large state-of-the-art fitness center and heated swimming pool that rivals any hotel out there. They also have something that few other properties have, trail access.
Road cyclists can ride Bob Wallace Road downtown and get onto a plethora of Huntsville bike trails; however, the Marriott is immediately adjacent to the Space and Rocket Center Trails. There are over 7-miles of dirt trails for walking, trail running, or entry-level mountain biking. Not only are these trails designed for riding, but they also come fully equipped with space-themed vignettes from NASA surplus. Even if you’re an experienced rider, it’s worth a lap for the installation art alone.
Walking to the US Space and Rocket Center
We’re going to assume that you know that you want to visit the Space and Rocket Center when you’re in Huntsville. It’s the world’s largest space museum in the hometown of the American space program. There, you’ll find the one and only Space Camp. Also, since it’s a Smithsonian affiliate, the Saturn V is the largest artifact in the entire Smithsonian archive.
So you know you want to go, but why walk there? In general, there’s plenty of free parking at the museum, but here’s are five reasons you might choose to walk:
- You bring your wife and kids on a bleasure (business + leisure) trip to Huntsville. They can walk over to the museum while you take the rental car to work at the Arsenal.
- You’re at adult or family space camp and want an immersive experience, so you stay close, but you also want a glass of wine at night and hate bunk beds.
- Only half of your family wants to go to the museum. They can walk over while the other group explores Huntsville.
- You want to really enjoy the Biergarten at Space and Rocket Center and not worry about driving back.
- You want to keep working out at the amazing gym while the fam goes to the Space and Rocket Center.
Wrapping up our stay at the Marriot Space and Rocket Center
If you haven’t tried a staycation yet, why not? It’s a great way to explore your hometown like a tourist, without all the fuss of travel. We’re lucky to have the Marriott Space and Rocket Center at a staycation destination. We got to nerd out at the Space and Rocket Center, in a newly remodeled and comfortable hotel.
For out-of-towners, the combination of the location, renovation, and imagination of Southern Chop makes this property an outstanding Huntsville Hotel. It’s the perfect tranquility base for exploring space and exploring Huntsville too.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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