Best Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 Luxury Hotels (35,000 Free Night) [2019]

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. 

With over 1,120 category 5 properties in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, you can easily find a property that is considered a sweet spot, and category 5 properties are currently the best category you can use your midrange Bonvoy credit cards annual free night, which covers nights up to 35,000 points.

In this article, I will go over my top 13 hotels that are category 5 and explain why they are unique, even if the property is on the other side of the world. I’ll also show you a list of other luxury properties that you might want to consider using you free night at. 


Table of Contents

Marriott Bonvoy category 5 pricing

On March 5th, 2019 Marriott Bonvoy officially changed to their new award chart ranging from category 1 to category 8. Category 5 is a sweet spot in Bonvoy’s award chart as it can range from business hotels to luxury hotels across the globe. You can easily find an EDITION, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, W, and JW Marriott property in category 5. 

The other great thing about category 5 properties is the fact that credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card both offer an annual free night for up to 35,000 points. Then the premium credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, offers an annual free night for up to 50,000 points.

35,000 points equal to the standard points needed for category 5 when it’s not off peak or peak season. Here is the Bonvoy award chart:

Hotel CategoryOff Peak (as of September 14)StandardPeak (as of September 14)
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

As you can see from the table above, off peak and peak seasons are starting September 14th. However, you look at it, this could be a good or bad change as it creates inconsistency. So, it’s up to you if you can take advantage of this change. 

How Marriott’s credit card annual free night works

There are three Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that are open to applicants. However, there are other Marriott credit cards that aren’t open to applicants, but people are still able to hold the credit card like the old SPG personal credit card (now known as the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express) that is also eligible for the annual free night up to 35,000 points.

In this article, we will focus on their Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card that are still open to applicants.

The annual free night will only come once you had the card for 1 year and then at the same time every year after your first anniversary. For example, if your application got accepted for one of the credit cards above on March 7th, 2019, you will be able to get the annual free night on March 7th, 2020 and every year after that. (Do note, sometimes the annual free night might take up to 8 weeks to show up in your Marriott account.)

The annual free night is redeemable for any properties that equal 35,000 points or less. In the screenshot below, you could use the annual free night at the properties shown, even though some are less than 35,000 points.

Here are just a few properties in Jakarta that you could use the annual free night certificate at.

Note: if you redeem the annual free night for a property that is less than 35,000 points, you won’t receive the points difference in your account.

For properties that require more than 35,000 points, you cannot use the annual free night at those properties. Think of the annual free night as a certificate or a voucher. It’s useable up to a value, but you cannot combine it with points or cash to redeem for a more valuable property.

Marriott Bonvoy credit cards

There are a total of 3 Marriott Bonvoy cards. Each card comes with different benefits and different annual fees. There are 2 midrange cards and 1 premium card. These cards aren’t the best for earning points like other cards, but in most cases, the annual free night makes up for the annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

  • 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at any Marriott Bonvoy property.
  • 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 35,000 points.
  • Automatic silver elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card

  • 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at any Marriott Bonvoy property.
  • 4 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers & on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 35,000 points.
    • Spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year for an additional annual free night.
  • Automatic silver elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $125 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

  • 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at any Marriott Bonvoy property.
  • 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual free night certificate valued up to 50,000 points.
  • $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit.
  • Automatic gold elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $450 annual fee.

Other cards you might want to consider are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the American Express Platinum Charge Card. Currently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has an elevated welcome offer for 60,000 Chase Ultimate points after spending $4,000 dollars in the first 3 months. You can also transfer any points earned with Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. 


Best Marriott Bonvoy category 5 hotels

The best category 5 hotels might be a little subjective since each individual will have different wants and needs for hotels along with what they value for the best. 

For me, I like unique or boutique hotels. Fewer rooms at a property are better in my eyes. For the most part, I don’t care if it’s centrally located, as long as it is worthwhile to stay a little bit out of the center of a city or even in the middle of nowhere. I do enjoy destination properties where the property is the main attraction. That said, I do love city hotels.

Now that you know what I value and look for in hotels, here is the list of my top 13 Marriott hotels that are a Bonvoy category 5.

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

Location: Kien Giang, Vietnam
Average price: $276 USD
Opening: 2017
Number of rooms: 234
Hotel website

Turquois Suite bathroom at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

By far the most aspirational property on this list has to be the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. Once a university, this newly opened hotel is one of the most beautiful properties. Sitting on Phu Quoc beach in Vietnam, it has both beautiful beaches and renovated rooms along with buildings that date back to the opening of the 19th-century university.

The beach at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

Elite recognition is consistent with Platinum Elites and above getting upgrades to suites like the Turquois Suite shown above. Villas are also available here, and some elites do get upgrades to villas sometimes.

I am planning to visit this property in either April or August this year when I am in Vietnam. 

Deluxe Emerald Bay View room at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu

Location: Moraitika, Greece
Average price: $548 USD
Opening: 2018
Number of rooms: 113
Hotel website

HRH Pearl Bedroom at Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu

This adults-only seasonal beach resort on Corfu island was initially built in the late 1960s and was running independently until a massive multimillion euro renovation in 2017 to 2018. Now under the management of Luxury Collection, you are able to use your annual free night certificates and points at this property while earning points, elite nights, and receiving elite benefits.

Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu

The property has rooms, suites, and villas. As an elite, you can be upgraded to a suite, but maybe if the occupancy is down during that time, you might have a chance for a villa. Since this property is seasonal and will be closed for half a year, it’s only open from April 17, 2019, to October 14, 2019, and some nights they are entirely sold out. While I still could find availability for using points, during August, it’s somewhat harder to find availability.

I never knew about this property until recently. So, this year I might end up staying here when I go to Europe in September and October. I especially want to eat at this property too since Michelin-starred chef Tassos Mantis created the menu for both of the restaurants at the property.

Pavilion Retreat Sea View Deck at Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu

W Kuala Lumpur

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Average price: $229 USD
Opening: 2018
Number of rooms: 150
Hotel website

Marvelous Suite Bedroom at W Kuala Lumpur

Located within walking distance to the Petronas Twin Towers (aka, KL Twin Towers) this newly constructed W property is in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Just like other W properties, the design is unique with gleaming surfaces. What makes this property stand out is the fact that it’s only one year old.

The front desk at W Kuala Lumpur

Elites are welcomed with upgrades to suites. The pool offers views of the Petronas Twin Towers, and the Wet Deck is a comfy place to reside with a drink while eating tapas.

During my visit to Kuala Lumpur, I will be staying at this property.

Wet Deck at W Kuala Lumpur

The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio

Location: San Antonio, Texas
Average price: $311 USD
Opening: 1909
Renovated: 2015
Number of rooms: 277
Hotel website

King guestroom at The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio

In the heart of San Antonio near attractions like the river walk and the Alamo, plus 5 restaurants, my favorite is the Rebelle, you can stuff your face during your stay and keeping busy with all that is around. The property restaurants are busy during the week and weekend making it a spot for both tourists and locals to eat at.

Lobby/main floor at The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio

Elites are welcomed to suites like the junior suite. The rooftop pool offers views of San Antonio, and the cabanas offer a place to relax outside on a sunny day.

I stayed at the property back in 2017 and would stay again if I go back to San Antonio.

Junior Suite living room at The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio

Hacienda, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Santa Rosa/San Jose/Temozon Sur

Location: Santa Rosa/San Jose/Temozon Sur
Average price: $228/$228/$227 USD
Number of rooms: 11/15/28
Santa Rosa website, San Jose website, Temozon Sur website

Superior One King Guest Room at Hacienda Santa Rosa, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Santa Rosa
Main entrance at Hacienda Santa Rosa, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Santa Rosa

The Hacienda properties in Mexico are all located near the Mayan ruins with beautiful caves and small villages. These three properties are in Santa Rosa, San Jose, and Temozon Sur. Each property offers a different experience, design, village feel, and grounds. I prefer the Santa Rosa property since it only has 11 rooms making it very peaceful and not busy, but even the Temozon Sur property with its 28 rooms is still super small too.

Superior Room double bed at Hacienda San Jose, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Jose
Dreams Tree at Hacienda San Jose, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Jose

Santa Rosa property has a botanical garden on their property. San Jose property has trees growing within buildings making you connect with nature. Temozon Sur has a spa underground in a cave. All three properties offer something truly unique.

I would rather stay at these properties than any of the properties in Cancun which always gets the attention.

Superior King Guest Room at Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Temozon Sur
Cave spa at Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Temozon Sur

JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Location: Uttarakhand, India
Average price: $254 USD
Opening: 2014
Number of rooms: 115
Hotel website

Studio king suite at JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

In the Himalayas, this JW property is showing the natural beauty of India. Famous for hiking trails throughout the mountains, this property is a hikers dream. Then after a long day, visit one of the 4 restaurants, and you will never go hungry. The resort features a full spa, fitness center, and a sparkling pool.

JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Elites are welcomed with two suite types that the hotel will upgrade them to, the Studio King will be more common of an upgrade. Kids are able to enjoy the bowling area and play area with a merry-go-round. Something truly unique for a category 5 property.

The Den bowling area at JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna

Location: Vienna, Austria
Average price: $224 USD
Year built: 1892
Opening: 1995
Number of rooms: 150
Hotel website

Grand Deluxe Room at Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna

An old opera house converted into a hotel that was once a Westin and then became a Luxury Collection brand. The building has a history. Located centrally in Vienna, the property is a great one for tourists and business travelers for getting around the lovely city of Vienna.

Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna

Elites are welcomed to suite upgrades, like the Junior Suite seen below. For a Europe property, this is one of the cheaper in price yet quality with history. For a category 5 property, this is a sweet spot property for western Europe.

Junior Suite at Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna

JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Average price: $284 USD
Opening: 2007
Number of rooms: 337
Hotel website

King Guest Room with a view at JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids

In the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan the JW Marriott is still one of the nicest properties in North America with a very reasonable price and award category. Located right on the river next to Grand Valley downtown campus and clubs nearby, the property is always busy in the lobby with both guests and locals hanging around. 

jdek Bar at JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids

Elites will be happy since the property does have an executive lounge. Platinum and above can access the lounge for free with one guest or anyone that has a concierge level room. 

When I have stayed at this property the few times before, I enjoyed the executive lounge, and they didn’t care about the number of people I brought in. For a US property, this lounge is nice, but I still prefer international lounges in Asia.

Club Lounge at JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids

The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire

Location: Iver, United Kingdom
Not open yet
Number of rooms: 41
Hotel website

The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire (Rendering)

This brand new Luxury Collection property outside of London is not open yet but based off of the renderings the property will be beautiful. With only 41 rooms, it will feel very secluded for a weekend getaway outside of London.

Junior Suite – Presidential Suite at The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire (Rendering)

There aren’t data points about elite upgrades and benefits. However, I would guess the property will do some special cocktail and canapes hour for Platinum elites and above.

Drawing Room at The Langley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buckinghamshire (Rendering)

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Average price: $150 USD
Opening: 2013
Number of rooms: 283
Hotel website

Al Hosen Suite bedroom at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Dubai might get all the attention, but located in the calmer city of Abu Dhabi is a category 5 St. Regis property that blows away other city hotels all over the world. Right on the beach, but in the city this St. Regis property has a kids pool zone, rooms with a crazy amount of detail, a library, a helipad, and just the right amount of gold accents.

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

I personally like how St. Regis gives elites benefits like breakfast, suite upgrades, and executive lounge access. While this property doesn’t have an executive lounge, it does offer suite upgrades and a full breakfast to Platinum elites and above.

King Superior Guest Room at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

The Sanya EDITION

Location: Sanya, China
Average price: $158 USD
Opening: 2016
Number of rooms: 512
Hotel website

Ocean View Suite at The Sanya EDITION

Many people might not know, but EDITION was Starwood’s brand new modern luxury brand. Since Marriott took over Starwood, I have seen Marriott push EDITION just as much as Starwood and still plans to open 11 new properties in the coming years. 

The Sanya EDITION is a beachfront property with 3 different pools, a play zone for kids, bumper cars, and rock wall. Located on the beach facing the South China Sea, this property is one of EDITION’s flagship properties.

Bumper cars at The Sanya EDITION

Elites aren’t going to get anything special at an EDITION, including Sanya EDITION. While upgrades are given, breakfast isn’t since EDITION is one of Marriott’s brands that don’t have to provide breakfast to guests.

Ocean View King Bed Room at The Sanya EDITION

JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

Location: Cusco, Peru
Average price: $181 USD
Opening: 2012
Number of rooms: 153
Hotel website

King Classic Inca Guest Room at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

This 16th century restored convent property located in Cusco is one of the top-rated hotels in Cusco bringing a modern rustic feel. The property doesn’t have much, but what it excels at is service, beautiful restorations, history, and the courtyard. 

Courtyard at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

The great thing about this property is the location being close to Machu Pichu and in the center of Cusco.

Double/Double Classic Inca Wall Room at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado

Location: Yucay, Peru
Average price: $295 USD
Opening: 2010
Number of rooms: 128
Hotel website

Junior Suite – King Guest Room at Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado

Located in Sacred Valley, this Luxury Collection property is highly rated on Trip Advisor for service and charm of the property. On the property, there is an organic farm that is used for the dishes made by the staff. Plus, there is a private train station that goes to the citadel daily.

Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado

In terms of elite upgrades, there aren’t many different rooms. There are only two types of suites. However, each room has what guests would need.

Deluxe Room at Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado

List of category 5 hotels

Across the globe, there are 1,120 category 5 hotels. But I think listing off all 1,120 category 5 hotels might be crazy. 

In this list, I will only list off luxury brands. Marriott’s luxury brands are Edition, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, W, Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, and Bulgari. Note, Bulgari doesn’t participate in the Bonvoy program. So, you aren’t able to use points at Bulgari properties.

The properties I listed above in my top 13 list won’t appear in this list below.

United States

JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America

Connected right to Mall of America you can shop until you drop.

JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead

JW Marriott Chicago

JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek

JW Marriott Houston Downtown

JW Marriott Indianapolis

JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa

JW Marriott Miami

JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa

Events like nightly tequila toast are a thing.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester 

The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland

The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner

Hotel Ivy, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Minneapolis

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago

The Whitley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Atlanta Buckhead

W Atlanta – Buckhead

W Atlanta – Midtown

W Atlanta – Downtown

W Chicago – City Center

W Chicago – Lakeshore

W Dallas – Victory

W Minneapolis – The Foshay

W New Orleans – French Quarter

W Scottsdale

Canada

JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District – opening August 2019

Mexico

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City

Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Campeche

W Mexico City

Central America

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa

Note that this property is trying to block elites from upgrades.

JW Marriott Panama

The Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort, Panama City

W Panama

Central Aerica

JW Marriott Hotel Lima

JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro

Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort, Paracas

Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco

W Santiago

Africa

The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo

The St. Regis Cairo – opening June 2019

Asia

JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok

JW Marriott Hotel Macau

JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity

JW Marriott Hotel Seoul

JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square

JW Marriott Hotel Zhejiang Anji

A beautiful golf resort in China.

JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa

Beach resort in Khao Lak, Thailand.

The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai

The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street

The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan

The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place

The Ritz-Carlton, Astana

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore

The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing

The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou

The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul

The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur

The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen 

Hotel National, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Moscow

ITC Gardenia, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bengaluru

ITC Maurya, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New Delhi

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok

The Alexander, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Yerevan

The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, Langkawi

The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok

The Azure Qiantang, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Hangzhou

The Castle Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dalian

The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali

The Royal Begonia, a Luxury Collection Resort, Sanya

The St. Regis Astana

The St. Regis Bangkok

The St. Regis Beijing

The St. Regis Chengdu

The St. Regis Lhasa Resort

The St. Regis Mumbai

The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan

The St. Regis Shenzhen

W Goa

W Guangzhou

Oceana

W Brisbane

Opened in 2018.

Europe

Penha Longa Resort

A specialty Ritz-Carlton property.

The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg

Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Warsaw

Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scotland

Middle East

The Abu Dhabi EDITION

Opened in 2018, the newest EDITION property.

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

Sharq Village & Spa

A specialty Ritz-Carlton property.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha

Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort, Ajman

Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba

Grand Hills, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa, Broumana

Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai

The St. Regis Doha

W Amman


Final word

While this list might be a little biased and only geared for luxury properties, this could be a good start to a more extensive list.

So, what category 5 properties would you recommend that are or aren’t on this list?

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