London's great annual marathon brings out the best in the city (Photo: Marriott International)

Running a marathon is both a big challenge and a big adventure, with the famed 26.2-milers (42km) offering the opportunity to travel all over the world. Westin Hotels & resorts put you in the heart of the action on race days and, if you fancy a run yourself, look no further than their Run Concierges, who are on hand to help you move, play and feel well. Or ask at reception for a WestinWORKOUT® Gear Lending Kit, top-quality gear including the latest high-tech recovery and total body strength training equipment to help you stay in shape on your travels. The massage and compression products offered to guests should come in handy both pre- and post-race. From the iconic London event to the stunning vistas of Cape Town and continent-crossing route of Istanbul, here are eight marathon cities that are really worth travelling for.

London: to enjoy one of the great marathon crowds

London's race (21st April) is more than a marathon – it’s a cultural icon, taking in major sites but also bringing out the best in people. The atmosphere is euphoric. It's also one of the legendary Abbott World Marathon Majors, the full six being London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo. Westin Hotels & Resorts has teamed up with Abbott to offer tailored experiences to marathon-running travellers, from dedicated training and recovery sessions to poster-designing stations for their supporters. The London course uses the Thames as a handrail, winding from maritime Greenwich to The Mall, via the elegant Cutty Sark, Docklands and the Embankment. It’s on the latter, around the 24-mile mark, that you’ll find The Westin London City. This inviting riverside hotel offers matchless views of Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern and, on race day, the inspirational sight of 40,000 runners passing by. Inspired? Join a morning jog via Tower Bridge and St Paul’s with a Westin Run Concierge.

Madrid: to join a cultured running carnival


The Madrid Marathon is both a moving carnival and a pavement-pounding sightseeing tour of the Spanish capital's great sites (Photo: Marriott International)

There's a certain elegance to the route of the Madrid Marathon (28th April). It starts near the Bernabeu football stadium, home to European giants Real Madrid, before taking in a succession of the Spanish capital’s most magnificent sights, including the Palacio Real, Museo Reina Sofía and Parque del Oeste. The Westin Palace, near the end of the route, forms part of that illustrious company, too – this legendary belle époque hotel oozes glamour, from its frescoed walls to its 1912 Museo Bar, where Dalí drank. Note that the Madrid Marathon isn’t just a race: it’s a full-on moving party. More than thirty stages line the course, pumping out uplifting, motivational tunes. The Westin Palace’s Sunday Opera & Brunch, served beneath the stained-glass cupola of the resplendent Rotunda, makes for a refined post-race celebration.

Berlin: to witness a record-breaking run


The Berlin Marathon has a reputation for record-breaking runs – all the more reason to visit at race time (Photo: Getty Images)

Ending at the historic Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Marathon (29th September) often writes its own history. This race, another of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, has clocked up the highest number of world-record runs thanks to its even profile, wide streets, benign autumn weather and enthusiastic crowd support. The route is a scenic city tour via the old streets of Mitte, multicultural Kreuzberg and Potsdammer Platz, the last of which makes a great place for spectating. The stylish The Westin Grand Berlin, practically on the route, is only a mile from the start-line in leafy Tiergarten, so runners can fuel up on a nutritious SuperFoods breakfast before making their way to the event. After the race, it’s only a ten-minute walk back, to refuel on sophisticated updates of German classics at the hotel’s Relish restaurant. Whether or not you're tackling the marathon, keen runners can take advantage of the hotel's Gear Lending kits, plus its fantastic WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio and muscle-soothing Heavenly Spa.

Warsaw: to gain a unique perspective on the city

Running marathon in Warsaw Poland

Take a trip through Warsaw's remarkable geography and history by tackling the city's popular marathon (Photo: Marriott International)

The Warsaw Marathon (29th September) is not only a remarkable race: it’s a remarkable run-through of the Polish capital’s past. Starting by the Polonia Warsaw stadium, it also takes in the regal Citadel, both banks of the Vistula River, monuments to Chopin, the thriving university and the old Jewish quarter, before finishing in Multimedia Fountain Park. Just as the race provides an overview of the city, so does The Westin Warsaw – in a quite different way. This cool, contemporary hotel, full of airy spaces and walls of glass, soars 21 floors, offering huge views across the business district and the race route beyond. The 24-hour WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio is a great place to warm up, before hitting the city’s storied streets.

Cape Town: to be blown away by the views

The beautiful views won't sustain you through all of Cape Town Marathon's 26.2 miles (42km) but they'll certainly do their bit (Photo: Getty Images)

Nestled between high peaks and ocean waves, Cape Town is one of the world’s most dramatically sited cities. Its marathon (20th October) does the place proud, showing off the all-round gorgeousness as the route curls from the vibrant V&A Waterfront, around the base of Table Mountain, out to fynbos-blooming Rondebosch Common and back into the centre. Tweaks to the course in 2023 are set to make the race flatter and faster – great for bagging PBs – but no less impressive. The dazzling, glass-fronted The Westin Cape Town is close to the start. Have a word with the hotel's front desk if you're interested in borrowing any gear to enhance your running practice – the WestinWORKOUT® Gear Lending Kits contain everything from Hyperice Hypersphere Mini to Bala resistance bands. Don't miss a visit to the hotel’s 19th-floor Heavenly Spa, either, where you can enjoy a heated pool, hot tub and sauna. It's the perfect post-race muscle-soothe, with breathtaking views to boot.

Frankfurt: to finish like a pro

Marathon The Westin Grand Frankfurt

Head to Frankfurt to take part in the world's most environmentally friendly marathon and enjoy The Westin Grand Frankfurt's runner-focused features (Photo: Marriott International)

Frankfurt may be a high-rise hub of glimmering glass and steel but its big race (27th October) glows green. A winner of ‘world’s most environmentally friendly marathon’, it becomes more sustainable each year. The route starts amid the skyscrapers, hops over the Main River, heads to Höchst and returns along the Mainzer Landstrasse road. It ends in the Festhalle concert hall, where every runner gets a red carpet finish. The Westin Grand Frankfurt is in the heart of the marathon hubbub. The race passes the door and the best cheering spots, like grand Opernplatz, are nearby. But this central location doesn’t mean disturbed nights. Calming rooms have Heavenly Beds, designed for optimum comfort and, after the race, dip into a Heavenly Bath, complete with revitalising lotions and plush robes.

Istanbul: to jog between continents

Istanbul famously straddles two continents and there's no better way to experience that phenomenon than by running between the city's European and Asian sides (Photo: Getty Images)

The Istanbul Marathon (3rd November) covers 26 miles and two continents. The race begins on the edge of Asia, then crosses a mile-long bridge over the Bosphorus to enter Europe. It goes on to follow the coast, hops over the Golden Horn via the Galata Bridge, passes Tokapı Palace – an excellent spectating point – and ends by the Hippodrome, sporting hub of the city for nearly 2,000 years. Amid all that history, The Westin Istanbul Nisantasi is the smart new kid, recently opened in Istanbul’s thriving entertainment district. Fuel up on delicious food from the Eat Well menu and try the hotel’s smart WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio. Or stay in a Workout Room, which come with advanced cardio and strength kit, so you can exercise in private.

Abu Dhabi: to run in the sun

Running in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi's marathon takes participants past the emirate’s most notable sights, from the elegant ADNOC tower and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the golden Corniche waterfront (Photo: Marriott International)

Even in December Abu Dhabi is a sunny 25°C. The city's marathon (14th December) provides a warm winter escape as well as the chance to be one of 20,000 people running alongside an impressive elite field, past the emirate’s most notable sights: elegant ADNOC tower (race village HQ), Al-Bateen Palace, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al-Hosn fort and the golden Corniche waterfront. The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa is only a 15-minute drive from the Grand Mosque – a prime spot to watch the action from – but feels a world away. It’s like an Arabesque-styled oasis in the city. Runners can warm up pre-race on the RunWestin fitness trails, then ease aching limbs with exceptional treatments, Zen Pool dips and nourishing massages in the Heavenly Spa.

Published: April 19, 2023

Last Updated: February 29, 2024

Article Tags:  Abu Dhabi , Berlin , Cape Town , Frankfurt , Istanbul , London , Madrid , Warsaw ,

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