I have to cut to the chase with this review – we just loved everything about this splendid historic hotel (except for one issue) & highly recommend it to anyone who is travelling to Washington for the first time & wants to be in the prime section of the Pennsylvania Ave precinct.
After 7 nights in a modern high-rise hotel in New York, I took a punt on the historic Willard for the next stage of our vacation, hoping for larger rooms & a more traditional atmosphere. First impressions are stunning with the lobby & public spaces just wonderfully old-worldly. The front desk retains the multiple key slot shelf that is so reminiscent of all those hotel scenes in 1950s movies. We found that the staff seem to de determined to make you feel special as we experienced friendly, attentive service from check-in to porters & restaurant experiences.
Our room was a twin queen with entry vestibule including mini bar and felt spacious compared to our modern New York hotel & the bathroom was also very comfortable. Although only on the 3rd floor, our room faced onto a courtyard section between the next building & we could not hear any traffic noise. The somewhat tired looking flat panel TV was actually replaced by a gorgeous 50-inch screen the day after we arrived but – sadly – only analog channels were available but we were not in DC to watch in-room movies.
The Café du Parc was a major asset as this provided a casual dining setting with a (very wide) sidewalk setting reminiscent of European hotels and great food as well. For a more intimate bar experience, the Round Robin certainly lived up to our expectations of rubbing shoulders with Washington insiders (well, we assume they were staffers as the White House is literally a 7 minute walk away).
Just one gripe – the pay-to-use internet menu is not in keeping with the general standard of this establishment. The basic option was about $9 for 512kbyte (yep – that’s a k, not an m). The “premium” package was a 24hr, 5mbyte limit for about $14, as I recall). My anti-virus software auto-downloads daily updates & these are typically 2-3 mbyte & the 2nd day I used the internet, Windows wanted to install 127mbyte of “important” updates which I had to cancel. C’mon Willard – this is an amazing property in all other aspects – why limit guests to absurd internet plans such as these?
Finally, for a splurge dinner, the Occidental Restaurant adjacent to the hotel (couldn’t quite figure out how this establishment was affiliated with the Willard but who cares) served us truly excellent steak & duck mains with accompanying charming and efficient service.
Fabulous experience in this spectacular city.