I came to DC for business and decided to stay at the Willard for one night on my own dime before moving on to the ‘work hotel’ that was booked for me.
The first thing you notice, and continue to notice at this landmark hotel, is how well trained the staff are. Everyone, from the women behind the reception to the bartenders at Round Robin to the fantastic concierge and the housekeeping staff, were unfailingly pleasant and helpful. The accumulation of these kindnesses certainly do add up, and they make a difference in the quality of a guest’s stay.
The location is great for touring around, and the lobby itself is pretty impressive in an old-school kind of way. Not really my own taste, but it was fun to see the sort of old-fashioned sumptuousness of the place.
Booked my room directly on the Intercontinental website and chose a king room at $329. The woman at the reception granted my request for a quiet room (thank you very much, it was) but, alas, that meant I was looking directly across the street at a wall of windows of the JW Marriott hotel. Eh. Sort of a let-down on entering the room for the first time, as there was very little light coming in the windows. But the morning sunshine the next day was nice.
In the end, the room was just so-so for that price. Nothing special, really. The super comfortable bed and the white, marbelled bathroom were the highlights. I also appreciated the little coffee maker and Washington Post delivery in the morning. The sort of faded green-yellow-burgundy color scheme of the furnishings were kind of dull for my liking, and while the overall feel of the room was in keeping with a hotel of this period/style, the room still felt kind of old-fashioned and out of date. Everything in perfect repair, mind you, but still a bit on the dull side. Not a lot of outlets for electronics and had I had to charge my phone in the bathroom. Not a huge deal, but still, I was looking around under desks and night tables in a bit of disbelief.
My goal was just to see what the Willard was all about. I left the hotel glad to have had the experience of staying there and felt lifted by the kindness of the entire staff. My experience at check-out was the best, actually... The entire process took about 1.5 minutes, and the lovely woman behind the reception came around from the desk, asked if she could carry my bags, opened open the front doors, hailed a cab, held the car door, and greeted me goodbye by name. Remarkable, really.
Would I stay there again at that rate? Probably not, only because I'd stay in Dupont and because my curiosity has been satisfied. But I imagine there are much nicer rooms than the one I stayed in and that you could have a really lovely experience in a room at a higher price point.