I stayed at the Residence Inn at National Harbor for the MUSE Conference. As a late attendee, I was unable to get a room at The Gaylord Resort. Initially, I was a bit saddened at not securing a room; however, I was not disappointed by my second choice.
First, the Residence Inn is directly across the street from The Gaylord, which facilitated the attendance at the conference. While it may not have the grandeur of The Gaylord, the Residence Inn is not exactly second rate.
The staff is friendly and attentive. The check-in process was quick and efficient. I was in my room within a few minutes of my arrival.
My room was just a few steps from the elevator, and if any of you have read my previous reviews, you know I like to request rooms far from elevators. However, in this case, the elevator was so quiet, I didn't mind it at all. Additionally, the elevator is secure. It requires a room key to operate, which adds to the safety of the facility (not that the area is unsafe, but it adds to one's piece of mind).
My room was a studio, but it felt more like a one-bedroom. It was spacious, inviting, and extremely well-kept. The kitchen area included granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The TV was a high-definition flat-screen with premium channels and could be viewed from either the couch or bed. There was a small sofa and chair and both were comfortable. The work area was sufficient with a good-sized desk. The free Wi-Fi had a strong signal, and I did not experience any drops with my Internet service.
Speaking of the bed, it was beyond comfortable. I felt like I was sleeping on clouds! I need to discover Marriott's bedding secrets, so I can duplicate it at home! I'm always pleased by their beds, pillows (and there are a lot of pillows!), and sheets. I always feel like I'm at someone's home rather than a hotel. Keep up the good work there!
The closet space was adequate, and it housed a standard-sized ironing board and iron. There was sufficient space for hanging clothes as well as shelving for other items.
Although there was only one sink, the vanity was long enough to accommodate two sinks and still have enough counter space. The shower was clean, and the tile work expertly done. The toiletries were top-notch. I also had plenty of towels at my disposal. And, yes, I do hang them and reuse, so I am water conscious.
The free breakfast had a variety of hot entrees, cereals, yogurts, and fresh fruits. The Belgian waffle maker was the biggest hits for both adults and children. The dining area was inviting, comfortable, and naturally lit thanks to its large windows. The outdoor patio was also accessible and provided an alternative dining experience.
There was also a free happy hour in the afternoon; however, I did not participate, thus I cannot provide a proper review. However, if I had to guess on its quality based upon my positive experiences, I would venture to say it is worth the stop.
The Residence Inn is just around the corner from great restaurants/pubs. I recommend the Cadillac Ranch's steak salad as well as their flatbread pizzas. I also recommend Harrington's Pub. Great bar food and burgers. And I highly recommend the Irish Car Bomb (Guinness beer with Jamison Whiskey, and Bailey's Irish Cream chasers) for dessert! Probably less calories than a standard dessert, and it comes it a liquid form, thus it's easier to finish!
If you're looking to stay in Washington DC for business, I wouldn't recommend this or any other hotel in the National Harbor area as it is a bit of a drive to DC. However, for vacationing/visiting purposes, there are tours available at reasonable prices from the hotel.
This said, I would rather stay in the Harbor area than in DC--one needs to relax after a full day of visiting the Mall!
One con of the area, not the hotel: the area has heavy air flight activity, especially during the early morning rush. So, if you're a light sleeper, this might be an issue if you choose The Residence Inn. If sleep is a major concern, I would recommend The Gaylord as the rooms are a bit more isolated against outside noise. Just remember, your sleep will come at a premium price as well.