My son and I recently traveled to the DC area from Massachusetts on vacation. Our first couple of days in DC we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn (directly across the street from the Residence Inn). The stay there was just lovely. Fresh, clean room with microwave and small refrigerator; smallish indoor pool/w jacuzzi; friendly and accommodating staff; delicious breakfast buffet (that was included in our room price- we did a 3-in-1 deal that also included our parking); and self-parking. We left the Hilton to go camping for 3 days at Assateague Island National Park. On our return stop to DC, I had reserved 4 nights at the Residence Inn, thinking we would have a lot of left over food from camping and it would be nice to be able to cook it using the kitchenette in a suite.
Well, I wish I had just stuck with the Hilton because from the minute I made the reservations, there was a problem. I had originally booked the room for 3 nights- Fri, Sat, and Sun. After realizing that this meant my son and I would be camping for 4 nights, I decided to go ahead and book the Thurs. just in case camping got a little to rough at the end of the trip. When I called to book that Thurs, the reservation specialist callously told me that she would have to change the rate on each night from $107 to $125, simply because I wanted to check-in on a Thurs. She refused to accommodate me and instead forwarded me to the Customer Service line, at which point I spoke with a representative who was able to convince her to keep my rate the same on the original reservation and only charge me $125 for the Thurs. night. I accepted this begrudgingly, but already had a bad feeling about the staff and this Marriott's ability to deliver quality customer service. (BTW- I am aware of the difference in pricing rooms on different nights. The hotel is in the business district of Bethesda and so, of course, it is more expensive on weeknights, but extending my stay by one day after I've already committed to spend over $400? That's just rude!)
When I pulled into the Residence Inn after a long drive back from camping at Assateague, I was relieved to get there and was immediately approached by a valet driver. I told the man I wasn't interested in using the valet service, as the website (as well as the repeated email confirmations I received) plainly stated there was a $20/day parking fee and $20/day valet parking fee. This may seem like a petty distinction, but as someone who was just camping and essentially traveling out of my car and not a suitcase, it was important to me to have unfettered access to my vehicle, as well as to not have valet drivers in my vehicle with all of my belongings. I also did not want to tip someone every time they fetched or parked my car, which after a 4 day stay would have added up to at least $10 (if I was being stingy).
Well, I assumed the valet drivers were just aggressive and went inside to check-in. It was then that I truly realized just how rude both the front desk staff and the assistant manager was.
My son has asthma, so I wanted to ensure that we would not be placed in a room that was formerly a smoking room. The man at the front desk rudely stated that Marriott rooms had been smoke free for YEARS. Well, it turns out they have been for 4 years, but as someone who hasn't stayed at a Marriott in several years (I usually opt for the Hilton or the Hyatt), I had no idea. After he checked us in, I asked if he had included the parking on my bill, at which point he informed me that it was valet only. I told him that was NOT what I was expecting and not a fact that I based my reservation on. He said that was the only option, unless I wanted to self-park in the public garage 2 blocks away. Well, I could have done that, except I had a lot of belongings that I needed to bring in and I needed to have access to my car. Plus, it was the evening and I had no idea how to park overnight in an unknown garage that wasn't staffed. (I learned they weren't staffed late at night from my stay at the Hilton). I became pretty upset over this because my other bad experiences had already put me off about this place. I asked to speak with the manager. After the assistant manager bantered with me in plain view of other guests for over 5 minutes in the lobby about the discrepancy between the website/confirmation information regarding parking and the actual parking situation, he finally conceded to giving me $15 to pay for my tips. He was very rude and he had a "take it or leave it" attitude- as if he could have cared less if I stayed or left. Because of this poor advertising, I spent the next 4 days running the poor valet guys back and forth to my car to get random items we needed over the course of our stay.
The room was nice enough, but was definitely not very clean. This hotel allows pets, so if you are allergic, then stay away! My son and I woke up sneezing and stuffy every morning. From what I have read from other guests, they charge a pretty hefty clean-up fee for pets, but they are clearly NOT using that money to clean very thoroughly.
The refrigerator: the whole reason for our stay here! It semed to be in decent working order when we got there and it was late, so I quickly unloaded our food from the cooler into the fridge. The next day I noticed that half of our food had frozen. I checked the dial and it was set to 5 (out of 7), so I dropped it down to 3. We left for the day to head into DC and when I got back, the rest of our food was frozen. It took a drop all the way down to 1 to get this clunker to perform properly, but by then, all the food I brought with us was ruined. Not wanting to bother with the hassle of the valet driver and not wanting to take the risk of more food spoiling, we never went food shopping again, thus making the whole point of staying here a moot one.
The "complimentary" breakfast was just plain nasty. By the 4th day, the only thing my son and I could stomach was the cold cereal and bagels. The eggs were runny, the potatoes were undercooked, the waffles were soggy (they only had a waffle machine one day), and there was a poor selection of fruit, unless you care for a steady rotation of cheap, over-ripe melon. Plus the breakfast area was extremely crowded and noisy at all hours of the morning because they offer breakfast to all of the guests. This clearly explains why the breakfast is so haphazardly thrown together, but still . . . I think they could have tried a little harder.
The pool was ok. It's on the roof, but even on a sunny day, you wouldn't know it because it's half-shaded by another building. There was no jacuzzi and it closed early (8 pm on Thurs. and 9 pm on Fri, Sat) which was a disappointment to not just me, but another guest as well.
The final straw came on our last day there- Sunday- when I realized we had missed a lot of attractions in DC and thought about staying an extra night. I called the front desk to inquire about extending our stay and was greeted by the same rude man who had checked us in. He informed me that the rate would be $269 for the night. I almost burst out laughing. From $107 to $269? Was the rudeness and poor service included in that price?!?! He said "he could not do anything more" and asked if I wanted to speak with the reservation desk. I declined, remembering how that went the first time.
Needless to stay, this is the worst stay I've ever had at a Marriott and I worked for them many years ago, so I know what their standards are (or at least what they used to be). I never treated a guest the way I was treated (as if I was dispensable) nor did I ever see a fellow associate treat a guest in such a way. I am shocked at how low their standards and their level of customer service has gone. I will never stay at a Marriott again after this experience.
The only good thing about this hotel is that it's right across the street from the Metro station and a close walk to the downtown area. But then again . . . so is the Hilton!
Bottom line- unless you are staying in the area for several weeks or more and are positive you will use the kitchen facilities, do yourself a favor and stay at the Hilton. If you think you can live with a teenier fridge (that actually works!) and a microwave, it is a much better hotel and a better deal. In fact, the price comes out to be about $10 less per night and that's with private self-parking and a delicious, hot, made-to-order breakfast buffet included.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.