A big thanks to Hotel Dena for hosting our stay so we could provide this detailed review of our experience.

If you read part one of this story, then you know that my beautiful and talented Canadian wife just became a U.S. citizen. We decided to make a mini vacation out of it since the check-in time for the Naturalization ceremony was 7:15am in Pasadena, about an hour from where we live. We decided to go the night before so we didn’t have such an early morning start and to avoid traffic. It turned out to be a very smart decision. 

After searching for hotels near the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, I discovered that Hotel Dena was the closest one. In fact, the hotel and the auditorium share the same parking lot.

Unbeknownst to me, Hotel Dena is part of the Marriott group and is a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. I tried to use my Marriott yearly free night credit thanks to the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card but it wasn’t available. To use Bonvoy Points was 50,000 points. The cash price was just $162.

Here are 10 things to know about Hotel Dena in Pasadena:

1. Location

The hotel’s location is ideal if you have an event at the Pasadena Convention Center or Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The hotel is adjacent to both (you don’t even have to cross a street) and has a back entrance, which makes it just a couple hundred yards away.

Jackie Robinson Memorial in Pasadena, California.
It’s also just a few blocks from Old Town Pasadena and City Hall, which has been in countless movies and TV shows. In fact, when we walked by, they were filming the show Shrinking, which I love on Apple TV. They were filming next to the Jackie and Mack Robinson statues; they were both native to the city.

2. Parking

The hotel is so close to the Convention Center they share the same parking lot. There’s no valet, which seems like a missed opportunity and parking costs $30 a night. Event parking is $15.

Hotel Dena lobby.
3. Hotel Dena has personality

The moment you walk in, you realize that this hotel has a personality all its own. It’s not one of those typical, cookie cutter chain hotels where everything is generic, safe and the same in cities across the country. This hotel gives boutique vibes, even though there are 311 room and it’s part of Marriott.

Hotel Dena bedroom.
4. Design

Even if you don’t have an eye for design, you’re sure to notice and appreciate all the design elements throughout the property. Each room highlights the work of L.A. street artist WRDSMTH in the creative headboards (pictured above).

Hotel Dena bathroom.
The bathroom looks like it’s been recently renovated and is a small but relaxing space. My wife loved the Ring-like bathroom mirror, which she said was perfect for doing her makeup … and now she wants one at home.

Hotel Dena living room.
And our room had a lovely living room in a color palette evocative of of sun, sand and sky, perfect for a Los Angeles hotel.

Hotel Dena screening room.
There’s a mini screening room set up with classic silent movies projected onto a screen in the lobby, a huge New York Times from 1938 that guests can flip through and the lobby is a cozy and welcoming space with comfy couches and intimate lighting.

Agents Only Bar and Lounge inside Hotel Dena.
5. Agents Only Bar and Lounge

Because we had such a short visit and a tight schedule, we didn’t have a chance to eat or drink at any of the hotel’s food and beverage venues. But the cool-looking Agents Only bar and lounge is a local spot for specialty crafted cocktails. Many of the drink  names give visitors a sense of place with a nod to Hollywood, like the Golden Age Old Fashioned (Woody Creek Distillers Bourbon, earl grey tea, aromatic bitters), the Red Carpet (ord’s gin, strawberry, basil, lemon) and the Hollywood Highball (Woody Creek Distillers Vodka, passionfruit hibiscus syrup, ginger, lemon, sparkling water.)

Lyric restaurant inside Hotel Dena in Pasadena.
6. Lyric restaurant

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to eat at Lyric, the hotel’s breakfast spot. As the name suggests, there’s a heavy musical influence here with menu items called You Were Always On My Mind Buttermilk Pancakes, Mamma Mia Greek Yogurt and Doin’ It Right French Toast. Plus, they’ve got a collection of vinyl records so guests can groove to their favorite tunes as they eat.

Grab and Go Market inside Hotel Dena in Pasadena.
7. Grab and Go Market

For travelers in a hurry, there’s a MRKT across from the front desk, which is a self-serve grab-and-go market. You can get microwaveable meals, snacks, and ice cream. It’s super handy to have something like right on the hotel’s premises.

8. Friendly and attentive staff

The moment we checked in, I could tell the staff was friendly, which usually means they’re happy. Even one of the housekeepers said hi to me as we walked down the hallway to our room, which, honestly, doesn’t seem to be the norm these days at hotels unless you make the first contact, which I usually do. Someone picked up our to-go food trash outside our room within 15 minutes (in many luxury hotels, I’ve seen food trays sit outside guest room doors for hours) and made our pull-out bed in a timely manner.

Long hallways inside Hotel Dena in Pasadena.
9. Longest hallways I’ve ever seen

Hotel Dena has 311 rooms and their hallways are the longest I’ve ever seen. I thought there was a mirror at the halfway point but there wasn’t. Las Vegas hotels might have longer hallways but they curve. This one is straight as an arrow. But these hallways are wide and bright, which is nice.

Pool at Hotel Dena in Pasadena.
Image courtesy of Hotel Dena

10. Fitness center and pool

The pool is open from 7am to 10pm and poolside kitchen service is available from 11am to 7pm. It’s a nice spot to catch some rays and relax in a comfy lounge chair. The fitness center is located on the hotel’s second floor, is open 24/7 and has you covered for free weights and cardio.

Ring lights for guests at Hotel Dena in Pasadena.
Image courtesy of Hotel Dena

11. Content creators will love it

Intentional or not, this hotel is a content creator’s dream and not just because of the free WiFi. No, it’s thanks to the many really unique and beautiful backdrops for shooting video or simply photographing. Fitting for a city famous for creating films, Hotel Dena offers guests the chance to borrow Lume Cube Cordless Ring Lights to create content on the go. I have one at home but there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of times when I’ve done interviews from my hotel room and it was too dark. This is a fantastic amenity for content creators.

All in all, Hotel Dena is a solid hotel with a lot of style and originality and a great place to make your home base if you’re visiting Pasadena.

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