Hilton Alexandria Mark Center report

Discussion in 'Hilton | Honors' started by violist, Apr 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center (gets both raves and
    many brickbats from Web reviewers)

    This property is 5 miles west of DCA, right off 395 in a
    mature but not unpleasant office park. Bus shuttle every
    half hour to/from the Metro and the airport. Oddity: it's
    load/unload your own bags, or at least was according to
    the grumpy driver leaving the airport at 4 pm. The morning
    driver was much better.

    This by all appearances is a convention hotel, though there
    are nods here and there to a leisure trade. The lobby:
    large, spacious, rather comfortable in the 1980s-90s style.

    My welcome was pretty effusive. I was given a corner room
    on 27. The tower is tricotyledonous, with 12 normal rooms
    and 6 odd shape corner ones. This particular odd shape one
    was slightly larger than a normal room, I think, but with
    not so much more usable space, as there are these angles
    going on. Slightly musty, carpet cleanery smell. The room
    furnishings were pleasant though a bit dated; the bathroom
    had oldish but well functioning facilities and a slightly
    shorter and fatter tub than I'm accustomed to. The tap
    water, by the way, is surprisingly potable for Washington.

    Oddities: They must have planned to put in a second sink or
    a range or something, as there's this countertop in a little
    alcove next to the bathroom - no good for anything but a
    changing table I imagine; also, the door was slightly the
    wrong size, so quite a bit of hallway light came in.

    A nearly 180 degree view eastward - I could just make
    out the Washington Monument in the distance to my left.
    Unfortunately, most of the foreground is ugly office and
    apartment high-rises.

    Finn & Porter is the house restaurant. Many nasty things
    are said of it on the Web. Some may be true. The heavily
    maligned service goes, in fact, at a courtly pace; I wasn't
    displeased by it, though. Most of the employees seem to
    practice English as a second language (one of the great
    Internet cavils about the place), but that is pretty much
    the norm these days, and I didn't experience any breakdowns
    in communication, though I had to stifle a laugh when a
    waitress referred to the special as "monkey fish."

    Bread was excellent, with a shatteringly crisp crust and
    soft interior. Perhaps this is a parlor trick, but it
    impressed me. The butter was also good.

    I was going to get the $12 mussels, only it had slid up
    to $14 as the origin had gone from Maine to P.E.I.; so in
    protest and to compare with my other Belgian experience I
    got a half portion of gnocchi Bolognese; these came somewhat
    gummy and not able to hold a candle to those of leading
    culinary lights such as, say, United Airlines. The sauce was
    fresh and bright and disappointingly nonstandard. Attention
    chefs, Bolognese is not an excuse for you to exercise your
    creativity in hiding assorted odd leftover vegetables (in
    this case carrot dice and sliced shiitakes). A big scoop of
    black pepper ricotta - both peppery and bland - came on top.
    I'd have eaten the sticky gnocchi had they come with a
    proper Bolognese; I'd have tolerated the sauce on really
    good fluffy gnocchi. I'd have pushed aside the black-flecked
    white cheese in any case. The "half" serving, sad to say,
    was huge, so I left behind in my bowl dinner for two.

    Black Angus steak and fries - I ordered this very rare,
    and it came out ... bleu: I couldn't believe my eyes. It was
    I believe - it came sliced - short cut rump, unfortunately
    fatless; the fat of this cut is very tasty. I'd expected
    flatiron or skirt. Good tenderness and flavor.

    Fries were a disappointment - twice-cooked but at a too low
    temperature, so the outsides were a bit leathery. A spicy
    housemade chipoltle ketchup helped. Watercress salad was
    dressed in a very tart dressing - quite good; unfortunately,
    in the name of creative plating, it had been blopped right
    on top of the fries, making some of the fries sour, soggy,
    and cold and wilting the bottom part of the salad.

    On the whole, what do you say, C+, no, B- because the steak
    was done right.

    I'd ordered a Sam Adams lager; what came was something else,
    I think the Noble Pils. I drank it.

    When I came back from dinner I found that the heat, not
    needed during daylight, didn't work - lots of noise, but
    only cool air poured out. I cranked the thermostat by
    degrees and gave up at 88. There was an extra comforter in
    the closet, so I didn't suffer.

    Early to bed, early to rise.

    Breakfast, the standard Hilton buffet plus (leaden) biscuits
    and (quite good, sagey) sausage gravy. Again, a mixed bag.
    Bacon and sausage were good; eggs tolerable and possibly not
    synthetic; potatoes rather strange wedges, totally uncrisp,
    heavily flavored with bell pepper; very nice fruit; not so
    nice cold cuts, turkey salty as anything, deli ham wet and
    soft. A solicitous waitress, ready with the juice pitcher,
    earned her tip. Also, the breakfast breads were rather
    forlorn, in contrast to the terrific bread at dinner.

    The airport shuttle waited an extra 5 for a guest (points in
    favor or against? I'm not sure).
  2. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

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    I stayed here last week, and I generally agree with the above review, though I did not have dinner at the restaurant. I also got the corner room, and though I agree about the usability of the extra space, appreciated it greatly as the following night was spent in a much smaller room.

    Another thing to note is that I don't believe the hotel has wi-fi in the rooms, so it's wired internet only. Also, on my way to my car, I remembered that I had forgotten to look up directions as a backup to my sometimes uncooperative GPS. The business lounge wanted money not only for printing, but also for accessing the internet. Possibly this is waived for elite members, but I didn't care enough to check.

    Overall, despite the bumps, my experience was positive. I cannot vouch for families, but for lone or coupled travelers, I would recommend.
  3. Jim
    Original Member

    Jim Silver Member

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    I was there a few months ago. The lobby has been newly renovated. I was by myself and ate only bar food.
    It was at a mini-convention and Hilton supplied the lunches and I have to say, I remember commenting that it was a surpringly good hotel lunch.
    Rooms were older and dated, as I was told, the renovations are continuing and will eventually get to the rooms.

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