A night at the Willard (DC)

Discussion in 'IHG | Rewards Club/Ambassador' started by viguera, Apr 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Just got back from spending a night at the Willard in Washington, DC and figured I'd report on it, plus the booking/overall experience using Virtuoso.

    I reached out to Linda Terrill after following that other Virtuoso thread and I must admit the whole experience was top notch. I didn't know what to expect at first, but I'm happy to report that if you're looking to book a luxury hotel there's absolutely no downside.

    My anniversary is actually coming up this week, but we had no plans for this weekend and I decided out of the blue to try for a luxury hotel in DC (I've never stayed at the Willard before but I figured I'd try it -- my only other choice was the St. Regis, where I've stayed before). Linda seems to have taken the initiative and reported on the anniversary bit to the hotel and we were pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of wine with chocolates and fruit delivered to the room.

    Either way, I reached out to Linda and she took care of making all the arrangements within a few hours on Friday -- a relatively quick affair, and I'm sure it would be even faster next time since there was a lot of introductory business involved. She explained my options and the likelihood of an upgrade considering availability, and provided me with a detailed confirmation very promptly.

    Arrival on Saturday was uneventful, although I have to admit that traveling with a toddler it's a bit awkward to get around the hotel -- they've very "stair happy" with one ramp leading to the lobby by traveling through the Cafe du Parc.

    The staff at the front desk was very helpful and had us checked in relatively quickly. As expected, we did receive notice that we would be getting a room upgrade, plus some additional amenities thanks to booking through Virtuoso.

    The breakdown was as follows:

    • Room upgrade -- I booked a King Premier with a View and was upgraded to a ~500 sq. foot Willard Room on a corner with a great view.
    • Early check-in -- which we sort-of used, as we arrived a bit later than planned
    • Late check-out -- 4pm, which they asked us if we wanted at the front desk
    • A couple of hotel benefits, including breakfast and up to $100 in hotel credit which could be applied to private dining, minibar and other expenses.

    The room was actually fairly nice with a separate seating and work area. The bathroom was nice, clean and well lit, although it was nothing spectacular. Definitely a nice place to be, and certainly as nice as one of the Club level rooms at the St. Regis, if not better.

    The only caveat for anybody considering The Willard would be to be mindful of the arrival time. It seems like there was definitely a shift after 2pm away from lunch and into getting ready for dinner, with the Café du Parc closing the upstairs and the Round Robin bar having a very limited menu as well as seating.

    The fact that the weather was not all that great also meant that outside seating was not available, and that might severely impact your options -- Café du Parc for example only had a handful of tables available.

    The hotel is located on 14th Street just shy of Pennsylvania Ave. The valet situation is a bit awkward because of the traffic, but overall it's not too terrible. The Department of the Treasury is down the block, with the White House being just around the corner from that. You're well within walking distance of the Mall and quite a few attractions including the Washington Monument.

    Overall the whole experience was actually quite nice. Check out was uneventful, the valet and bell desk were extremely efficient and everything went quite well. As a whole if you're looking for a nice luxury hotel to spend a day or two in, and you don't mind the rates, I would definitely recommend you keep The Willard in your short list.

    And if you're going to go that route, I would certainly recommend you reach out to Linda and have her assist you with the reservations.

    A few nondescript pictures...

    [​IMG]

    In-room dinner

    [​IMG]

    A nice surprise delivered to the room

    [​IMG]

    I always make it a point of photographing these things... $5 soda and $7 candy. :)

    [​IMG]

    Things to keep in mind...
    • All those stairs.
    • Valet is rather pricey at $39 a day
    • Depending on arrival you might have limited options for hotel dining
    • There's a Red Door Spa on the second floor
    • The Ulysses S. Grant suite is literally right off the second floor elevators, although I'm not sure if noise would be an issue :)
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I've stayed in this hotel a number of times over the years, even as a kid before it was closed for massive renovations and then a bit later when it really needed those renovations. I love it and I'm fascinated by its history. It's an iconic property.

    However, be careful about room types. The ones with sitting areas are wonderful, but the hotel also has a lot of small and rather disappointing rooms. There are some unique suites in the section of the hotel above the bar.

    There are good restaurant choices within easy walking distance, although some of these might be closed on weekends.

    It's a quick and easy cab ride to DCA or the metro is nearby.
     
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  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Good info. The "YMMV" on the room types reminds me of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. Some of the newer, nicer rooms are actually quite decent, while others you would run out of screaming.

    Good point on the restaurant selection, and there's actually quite a few around that are not necessarily tourist traps, mostly up 14th Street, plus there are quite a few other hotels around with restaurants of their own as well. But it's always good to keep in mind the state of the in-house restaurants for people planning to use them for in-room dining or considering the Virtuoso-related stipends.

    Thanks for the info.
     
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  4. FirstClassQueen
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    FirstClassQueen Silver Member

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    I love the Willard Hotel every time I go to DC I stay their. I even stayed their on points for 4 days during the inauguration of president Obama
     
  5. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    To the OP, when you say your room had a great view, does that mean an un-obstructed view of the White House?
     
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  6. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Very nice review thanks for posting!
     
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  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Negatory :)

    We had a corner room with a view of Pennsylvania/14th. You could see the park, the fountain and the cherry blossom festivities going on that day across the way.

    We were offered an oval suite as an upgrade at and additional charge which would have probably had nicer views but we declined as our room was "nice enough"
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I'm not sure that any rooms have White House views. The hotel isn't on the side of the block toward the White House. I think there's an old and not very nice hotel called the Pennsylvania or something that would block views on that side.
     
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  9. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Maybe some of the higher rooms might have unobstructed views, I'm not sure. Like I said the building housing the Willard faces Pennsylvania and (mostly) 14th St. NW. There's a W immediately next to it that faces 15th St NW, then there's the Treasury, then the White House. My guess is some of the rooms on the W have views of the White House, perhaps.
     
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  10. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Oops. I was thinking of the Hay Adams.
     
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  11. I've stayed at this property and appreciate it's a historic building in a great location, and has a wonderful old world charm and feeling to it, nice open lobby, the one thing desperately lacking is a club lounge. to me that would make the world of difference at the Willard.
     
  12. Million Mile Secrets

    Million Mile Secrets Silver Member

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    I stayed at the Willard 2 weekends ago and it was excellent! They honored my Ambassador benefits on a free Sweet Dilema redemption. The hotel is very centrally located and is excellent for sight-seeing in DC.

    I posted a detailed 34 picture trip report of The Willard here.

    Here's a picture - wish there was an easy way to upload all 34 of them :)

    Willard InterContinental  - Front Guest.JPG
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    I have stayed here too. It was nice but since I work around the corner, not much of a vacation ;)

    IMO the best part of the Willard is the Occidental restaurant. The best steak I've had in the District was at the Oc. And the bar is pretty neat to hang out at too.
     
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  14. studio253
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    studio253 Silver Member

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    I've stayed here multiple times on paid and points nights and there was never a difference in treatment. There was always a wonderful suite upgrade and all RA benefits. The staff was always great.
     
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