Hotel Review: Izmir Marriott Hotel

Dan and I stayed at the Izmir, Turkey Marriott hotel for four nights in July 2023. We choose the Izmir Marriott over some other properties because the hotel looked nice online, was reasonably priced, and offered a rooftop pool and lounge, plus our trip was concentrated more on sightseeing than beach/pooling so the beaches surrounding Izmir did not appeal to us on this trip. This post reviews our stay in the Izmir Marriott, which we really enjoyed!

View from the Izmir Marriott’s Executive Lounge patio, which is just above the hotel’s main entrance.


Opened in 2021, the Izmir Marriott is a modern property located on the waterfront in central Izmir. Hotel guests can walk to numerous restaurants, shops and sites of interest, including the Kemeraltı Bazaar (that we toured) and Konak pier, from the hotel. The Marriott in Izmir is comprised of 8 floors, in addition to a usable rooftop and basement Turkish bath and spa.  During our stay, the clientele was mostly foreigners, including many Americans. The majority of the staff spoke good English, and we received a very warm welcome on arrival.

View of the surrounding area from the Marriott entrance.

The first floor and entrance of the Izmir Marriott is smartly decorated and holds the checkin area, as well as a coffee bar and the waterfront Lima restaurant, where a large breakfast is served daily, in addition to lunch and dinner. Guest rooms largely comprise the remaining seven floors. The Marriott’s fabulous spa is located in the basement level, and the main hotel pool and a late night bar and restaurant occupy the rooftop.


We booked a standard King room with a City View with cash at the Izmir Marriott, which only cost about $145 USD in July 2023. We also requested a  Suite Night Award (“SNA”) upgrade for all four nights that we had available due to our Marriott Platinum status, which we actually received (yay!).  In light of the SNA upgrade, we stayed in a Corner King City View suite, which offered both city and (partial) sea views.  As you can see in the below pictures, our the room is located on front left corner of the hotel and opened into a small hallway, with the bathroom on the left and a closet area on the right. At the end of the small hallway, the room expanded to include a very comfortable, and American style, King size bed, a  work desk, a small kitchenette area, including a fully stocked mini bar (for pay) and a coffee and tea maker, safe, hairdryer, a very chic chair overlooking the partial sea view, and a couch and small table on the opposite side of the room. The main selling point of this suite were the curved floor to ceiling windows on each corner, which was really very cool. We loved opening the curtains and watching the city go about its day, especially in the early morning and at sunset.

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3 Days In Cappadocia, Türkiye!

Dan and I first visited Türkiye back in 2010 on a Mediterranean cruise after taking the bar examination in the US. We were super excited for this stop a decade ago, and spent nearly 24 hours in the Istanbul port. We have been meaning to return since, but it didn’t happen until we visited Izmir, Cappadocia and Istanbul over 11 days in July 2023! This articles details what we did in Cappadocia, as well as whether 3 days was enough time in Cappadocia!

Cappadocia, Türikye. This is the Valley of the Pidgeons.

Cappadocia, Türkiye

Cappadocia, Türkiye is an ancient region (yes, region, not a town/city) in Central Anatolia, Turkey, i.e. right in the middle of the country. The Cappadocia region dates back prior to 499 BC (!) and presently is separated into 5 provinces.  Cappadocia is currently super popular as being the magical “balloon town” in Turkey, where hot air balloons literally fly through the towns (well, Göreme specifically) every morning. Cappadocia is also well known for its otherworld looks, including wild rock formations and fairy chimneys.

Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia.

For planning purposes, prime tourist Cappadocia mainly consists of 3 small towns – Gorëme, Uçhisar and Avanos. These towns are the closest to the main Cappadocia sites, and well suited for tourists. We stayed in Gorëme, which is the largest of these three towns and is home to many hotels, including cave hotels, restaurants, shops and nightlife. Gorëme is also the main town to view the magical hot air balloons most mornings.  Uçhisar, apparently popular with the French, is located on a hill top just down the road. Uçhisar is famously home to Uçhisar castle, as well as restaurants, shops and some nightlife. Finally, Avanos felt more like a town, with the Kızılırmak River running through it and numerous local pottery shops. There is a DoubleTree by Hilton in Avanos for those seeking Western accommodation.

Göreme town in Cappadocia.

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What Its Like To Fly A Hot Air Balloon In Cappadocia, Türkiye!

Happy Halloween, one of my favorite holidays! As I have only been away once for Halloween (Prague in 2004), I decided to write about the scariest thing I have recently done – a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Türkiye this summer!

Us at approximately 2800 feet!

As you may know, Dan and I spent a few days in Cappadocia, Türkiye last summer (July 2023) and while there, took one of those famous hot air balloon rides.  In sum, the ride was fantastic and we were so happy that we took the ride. That being said, it was also mildly terrifying and expensive, and I don’t think we will do it again. This post details our experience from start to finish!


Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia are a “thing” year round. Numerous operators run daily flights at dawn, and sometimes a second, afternoon flight in the winter when the air is cooler.  While many operators offer hot air balloon rides, the number of operators are capped, and hot air balloon rides do sell out during busy periods. A simple Google search will yield numerous companies offering these types of tours in Cappadocia. I suggest booking far in advance if this is something that you “must do.”

Many companies have their name proudly displayed on the balloon, including both balloon companies and other businesses (like banks).

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Hotel Review: The Virginian, Hilton Curio Collection, Lynchburg, Virginia

Dan and I have spent a couple nights at the newish Virginian Hotel in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia while visiting my mother and her adorable beagle, Dublin! This is my review of our stays in Fall 2023. In sum highly recommend for a hotel in Lynchburg, VA.

Early Fall in downtown Lynchburg, VA from The Virginian’s rooftop restaurant, The Skyline.

For those not from Lynchburg, Virginia, The Virginian Hotel is a longtime fixture of Lynchburg, having first opened in 1913. The Virginian Hotel was known for years as an upscale, elegant hotel hosting the most esteemed guests in Lynchburg, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Ronald Regan (who knew these types of people visited Lynchburg!). One of The Virginia’s most famous attributes is its famous “Virginian” light up sign that remains iconic downtown.

The classic Virginian sign on the hotel.

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