Review of the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa: A Big Hotel that Feels Personal

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Pool view at The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
Pools are inside and out at the Marriott Shoals. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

When a big hotel feels personal, with public areas encouraging conversation, and guest rooms are spacious with private balconies and lovely views — I’m delighted to discover a new getaway. The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa does just that. Florence, Alabama is the location (East Florence locals say) and the fabled music mecca Muscle Shoals is a major destination.

With 196 guest rooms for sleeping, and three suites with parlors too, the property stands six stories tall, but the lobby sets a tone of relaxation. Maybe credit the large aquarium for that. Calm water and colorful fish greet guests coming and going.

Backyard view at The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
Nice backyard for a six-story hotel. Access is easy to River Heritage Park. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

So does the Tennessee River. Yes, this is Alabama, but the river that starts in Knoxville flows right by the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa. Ask for a river view. Many balconies overlook the outdoor pool.

River Heritage Park is right here too so it’s cool to schedule a gentle hike from the hotel to the playground, splash pad and lush grounds overlooking the Tennessee River. Biking and walking trail connections are in the works, and the Wilson Lake dam is in sight.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Muscle Shoals and Florence offer lots of things to do. So does the hotel. Could be a good idea to plan your days with time for both. Check-in is 4:00 p.m. and check-out is 11:00 a.m. if that helps with scheduling. Use the front desk or express checkout.

Read More: Where to find the best beaches in Alabama.

The Pools

Find swimming pools and hot tubs inside and outside at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa. Plus, there’s one waterslide too. Sloped entry is more welcoming than steps for some people, and each pool also has a self-operating lift chair.

The indoor pool is heated.

From poolside, it’s easy to experience the River Heritage Park.

Lift chair at the Spa in The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
The Spa at Marriott Shoals pays attention to all sorts of people needs! The lift chair allows gentle entry to the whirlpool. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

The Spa: Fifth Best of 100 Spas in America

Spas of America rated the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa fifth out of the nation’s best 100 in 2022! Consumer choice weighs heavily on this annual award.

“We see wellness as an integral part of people’s lives, and wellness tourism is predicted to grow,” said Spas of America president Craig Oliver.

Slip past the lobby aquarium and slow down to admire the original art on the corridor leading to the spa. The world changes once you enter the spa space.

Facials are just the beginning. Study the list on the website and book online. Solo or couples.

The chair lift at the whirlpool sauna is one of many features welcoming people with various needs.

The Spa at the Shoals pays homage to the vibrant music of Muscle Shoals, past, present and future. Massage and treatment rooms are named for sound studios.

Think FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound, Wishbone and NuttHouse as you head to sheer bliss.

Then later, visit the sound rooms where history keeps being made!

Spa products available at The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
Looks like candy but these pretty packages in the hotel spa are products meant to extend the full body or facial treatments. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Exercise or Work?

Sure thehotel has a business center, game room and a fitness center. Free wifi is the basic level so staying up with social media and email is automatic. Might need to pay for some streaming capabilities.

Meeting space is abundant with dedicated conference center facilities, event rooms and breakout rooms.

Overhead view of the lobby at The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
Heading from guest rooms to elevators offers a look at the lobby, welcoming and easy to access. Photo credit: Christine Ti9bbetts

Rooms at The Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa

With a crowd, you might consider one of the three “parlor” configurations. These suites connect to guest rooms and offer 6-900 square feet of parlor gathering space as well.

Every king bed and queen bedroom has a view! And a private balcony.

Rollaway beds can be requested for king rooms only; one crib or rollaway is considered the maximum. Rollaway fee is $10 per night.

Bathrooms have separate tubs and walk-in showers. Toiletries will fill large permanent containers as 2024 unfolds with room renovations, emphasizing sustainability.

Hair dryers, air conditioning, small refrigerators and safes feel standard. The in-room coffee maker was a relief to find.

Desk and dresser tops are expansive, a good help to unload and organize for the next day. The ergonomic desk chair felt special in my Marriott Florence room.

Golf Course

Golfers staying at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa head to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a 15-minute drive.


Yes, bring the cats and dogs. Two pets per room is max, and neither should weigh more than 25 pounds. A $100 usd fee is nonrefundable.

Eating in the Shoals Hotel

A revolving restaurant on the 27th floor of the Renaissance Tower – with panorama views of the Tennessee River — is a spectacular lunch or dinner setting in this Shoals area. 360 Grille is the name.

It’s easy access from the hotel lobby, just down the corridor toward the spa with a dedicated high-rise elevator.

Consider a Wagyu burger for lunch or a coconut chicken sandwich. Special-sounding items include goat cheese grits, truffle fries and slaw made with red cabbage and kale.

Dinner entrees start in the $30 range and head up, with several sides included.

More Dining Options

Swampers Bar and Grille is the breakfast place, open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Its very name evokes years of music history in Muscle Shoals. Swampers was the name of the recording studio musicians.

This is not a free breakfast.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Keep thinking music and order the Lynryd Skynyrd for lunch. It’s a 7-ounce bologna sandwich with caramelized onions, tomatoes, lettuce and mustardaise. Then listen to “Sweet Home Alabama” and visit the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where Skynyrd really launched his career.

Breakfast comes with a fee, ranging in the $7-$15 category, a blend of buffet and wait staff. Show up thirsty; they’re really generous with a morning glass of juice!

Ever tried pork belly eggs Benedict? Swampers serves it on hoe cakes with chives in the hollandaise.

Listen to live music every night in Swampers, wafting out to the lobby so you get a mini concert just heading to your room. Music really matters in Muscle Shoals.

The Shoals Hotel coffee shop is named Rock & Roast, and it’s also a juice bar. Kombucha is served too, along with cappuccinos, lattes, cold brew and hot coffee.

Room service is available through Swampers Bar and Grille.

A range of other Florence eateries are within five miles.

Getting to the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa

A regional airport is six miles away—Northwest Alabama Regional Airport. The hotel airport shuttle is temporarily unavailable but airport service is anticipated again in mid-2024.

Road trip travelers can self-park for free. To help with navigation, the address is:

10 Hightower Place, Florence, AL 35630
Phone number: 256-246-3600

Christine Tibbetts believes family travel is shared discovery — almost like having a secret among generations who travel together. The matriarch of a big blended clan with many adventuresome traveling members, she is a classically-trained journalist. Christine handled PR and marketing accounts for four decades, specializing in tourism, the arts, education, politics and community development.  She builds travel features with depth interviews and abundant musing to uncover the soul of each place.
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