We got off to a rough start with this hotel… we booked it via a travel website and received confirmation for a non-smoking room with a king size bed. When we arrived, the staff at the front desk tried to put us in a room with two small beds instead of the king size we had reserved. After some discussion, in which we were told that because we hadn’t booked directly with the hotel, we were not guaranteed to get the room we reserved… they finally relented and agreed to give us a room with a king sized bed. This sort of behavior from the front desk staff is the type of thing that gives this beautiful hotel a reputation for poor service.
Once we made it through the check in process and made our way to our room, we were pleased to find a relatively new hotel that is beautifully decorated in the hallways and publice areas. And the room we had was gorgeous… very modern in regard to room decorations and very clean with a bed and pillows that were very comfortable. The bathroom was beautiful- a walk-in shower instead of the near ubiquitous tub/shower/shower curtain set up. I’m relatively tall, so for me, it was a very nice to have a walk-in shower instead of the normal cramped shower/tub combination.
However, we quickly discovered that there is no way to call the front desk… dialing 0 doesn’t get you the front desk and there is no autodial button on the phone that allows you to reach the front desk. Instead, there is an autodial button for Room Service and you have to call “room service” and have them transfer you to the front desk. Very odd and very inconvenient.
The lobby and the lobby bar are very nice and have a very modern feel. Pleasant if you like that sort of thing, not pleasant if you’re more of a B&B type of person. The lobby is ultra-modern and visually interesting, but it’s noisy, with a piped in muzak-hip-hop sound track blaring until late in the night. Depending on your situation, it could be seen as a good place to hang out. It was interesting if you like night club décor, but we didn’t stay for long. As the old saying goes, there wasn’t much there there and after a few minutes, the music became a bit annoying.
The parking situation at the hotel is a bit of a trap. In order to park, you have to use the hotel room “key card” to enter and exit the parking garage. For this privilege, you’ll pay around $22 per night for “self-park” and $27 + tip for valet parking. There is no parking on the street so you have no choice but to pay this additional fee if you drive to the hotel in your own vehicle or rental car.
The hotel is in Crystal City/Arlington, near to DC and Ronald Reagan airport... but to get to almost anything, you’ll need to drive or use the hotel shuttle. Even though you would think the hotel’s location is good when looking at a Google map, the location of the hotel is not great for being able to get to restaurants and other amenities, so plan on driving or arranging transportation for just about anything you might want to do. This is not a location that is convenient for walking.
And something you take for granted until it’s not there… there is no free breakfast at the hotel, not even something as simple as bagels or donuts. And the restaurant in the hotel is expensive, a bit slow and really not that good. All food prices seem inflated to ridiculous levels.
Also, internet access is not included in the cost of the room and you have to pay extra for “normal” internet access and even more for “fast” internet access (although another guest told me there were computers in the lobby that could be used to access the internet with no extra charge). If I recall correctly, the “normal” internet service was about $12 a night and the “fast” internet service was around $16 per night. It seems really strange for a hotel of this caliber to charge for wi-fi internet access… much less to have a two tier fee structure for internet access. I rely on wi-fi when I’m on the road, so this was a real annoyance.
To sum up, the interior of this hotel is very nice. And although I’ve read many complaints regarding the noise levels in this hotel, we had no problem at all. Maybe just a lucky break, but our room was very quiet and we got a good night’s sleep. True, the views are not good, and from what I could tell, they would not be good from any room, although the view from the upper floors might be preferable. But overall, a very nice hotel that needs to focus as much on customer service as it has on appearance.