I needed to be in Washington, D.C. recently for a few days and decided to take the opportunity to do a review of one of the iconic Washington hotels – the Washington Hilton. I have stayed at just about all of Hilton’s properties in Washington and generally find them to be middle of the road business traveler focused properties – and the Washington Hilton stuck with this trend.
Washington, D.C. is a bit of a unique hotel market in that they need to cater to both tourists and business/government travelers alike. Generally the two are looking for markedly different experiences, which can cause some headaches for the hotels. DC is easily one of my favorite places in the country and I am up there fairly often. As a result, I have stayed at just about every Hilton and SPG property in the District itself and a few on the Virginia side.
I started this trip off at at the Embassy Suites DC Convention Center as it was close to the U.S. Supreme Court where I had to be for a swearing in ceremony. Although I did not do a formal review, the Embassy Suites DC Convention Center is easily the worst Hilton property in the District. I would strong advise against staying at this property for a variety of reasons that I will not get into here, but let me just say it was one of the top 3 worst hotel stays of my life.
Since my next few days required me to be over in the DuPont Circle/Adams Morgan areas of the District and since the Washington Hilton was the only Hilton property in the District I had not yet stayed at, I decided to book it for my last night. Points stays were going for 60,000 Hilton HHonors points per night, while the paid rate was ~$150/night after taxes. I did not find the points option to be very good value, so I opted to pay cash for this stay instead.
I headed to the Washington Hilton earlier than the regular check-in time of 4 PM in hopes they may have a room ready early. Thankfully they were able to accommodate me early. Thanks to my American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass credit card I hold Hilton HHonors Gold status, though because I was checking in earlier than normal I was not offered an upgraded room.
The lobby of the Washington Hilton is quite chic with dark woods and granite countertops everywhere.
Check-in was quick and I was given two bottles of water for being a HHonors member. I was assigned a room on the 5th floor that faced east. While I would have preferred a room facing west (much better views), I was just happy there was a room ready and that I could drop my bags before heading out to my next meeting. I was also informed that although my room was not on the Executive Floor, I would still have access to the Executive Floor Lounge which offered drinks and h’orderves in the evenings and breakfast in the mornings.
I took the elevators up to the 5th floor and found my room about halfway down the hallway. Upon entering the room it immediately felt cramped.
The hallway was quite narrow and I think it would have been difficult to maneuver in this space if you travel with very large luggage.
The room was pretty standard with a nice king sized bed on the right hand wall. As usual, the bed had night stands on both sides of the bed.
Interestingly, both of the lamps on the night stands offered electrical plugs that did not work. Even more interesting, the iHome clock/radio on the night stand featured the old connector, so anyone with an iPhone 5 or newer could not use the docking station without an adapter. That is the first time in 100’s of Hilton stays that I have seen that.
In the back right corner of the room was a chair with an ottoman.
The chair had seen better days and the cushion kept sliding out when you sat in, so it was not very comfortable.
In the back left corner of the room was a standard desk with Ikea style white leather chair.
I actually find the standard Hilton desks to be the perfect space for getting work done without needing additional space. To the left of the desk was the dresser/TV stand and a coffee maker.
As I mentioned before, I would have greatly preferred a westward facing room. Why? Well, this was my lovely view:
In keeping with the cramped feeling of the room, the bathroom was also quite tight.
It really would not be possible to have more than one person in the bathroom getting ready at once, so if you that is something you need, keep that in mind when booking a night at this hotel. The finishes and shower were in great shape and looked great though, so for a solo business traveler, I had no complaints about the bathroom.
As in all Hiltons, the toiletries were Peter Thomas Roth. I do not find them to be anything special, nor do I have any complaints about them (I’m not really even sure what you could complain about when it comes to hotel provided toiletries?).
Since my meetings ended earlier than expected, I was back at the hotel in time to grab a quick drink and check out the h’orderves in the Executive Lounge. The Executive Lounge was located on the 10th floor. You need to use your key card to even access the 10th floor, as well as to gain entry into the Executive Lounge. Upon exiting the elevators bank, you see the Executive Lounge entrance immediately.
Even though there is a desk in front of the lounge, it was never staffed during my stay, so I am not entirely sure why it is there?
Entering the lounge you can immediately tell that it is quite small. Seating consisted of about half a dozen stools at the bar and about 8-10 small tables that would fit 4-6 people.
The food was pretty basic with a small selection of cubed cheeses, sliced vegetables and crackers.
The hot dishes were tempura shrimp with a sweet sauce and vegetable samosas.
I tried both of the hot dishes and left the rest after one bite. The shrimp tasted a bit metallic (weird, I know) and the vegetable samosas just tasted like fried dough.
One thing I really liked was the giant pitchers of flavored waters – mint and cranberry in this case. I do not know why I like this so much, but when you are traveling it can be a nice change of pace to get something flavorful and ifferent like this.
There was also a coffee machine that would make everything from hot chocolate to lattes.
On the upside, at least the view was marginally better from the 10th floor than from the 5th.
I would not go out of my way to go to the lounge for the h’orderves, but it was a nice enough way to spend a half hour responding to some emails and grabbing a drink.
Although I was already up, I had a knock on my door at 7:30 AM from housekeeping asking if they could clean the room. I understand it is a big hotel, but that is hands down the earliest I can ever recall housekeeping asking if they could clean my room.
I did not end up partaking in breakfast at the Executive Lounge, but was told by another guest that it was your basic fruits, pastries, breads, cereal, yogurt and a small egg dish spread. He also told me that it was standing room only for breakfast. DC has some downright amazing food (Founding Farmers, Commissary DC, Wicked Waffle, Good Stuff Eatery, Ted’s Bulletin, etc.) so I would strongly encourage you to check out the local food scene when in DC as opposed to the hotel spread. Your stomach will thank you!
I had a late afternoon flight out so called down to the desk to request a late checkout. Interestingly, I was told I had already been checked out and that they would have to check me back in to accommodate the late checkout. I was told I was the only one who could have checked myself out (which I did not do), but they were able to accommodate my request for a 2 PM late checkout. At 2 PM I checked out and grabbed an Uber to Reagan National Airport.
Overall, I was neither impressed, nor disappointed in this property. While the Washington Hilton is not my favorite hotel in Washington, D.C., it is decent enough and the location cannot be beat if you are looking for some night life and great restaurants in the DuPont Circle/Adams Morgan areas. If you are in the District to do the tourist thing though you are better off staying at the Capital Hilton – which is my personal favorite Hilton property in the District – as it is more centrally located to the attractions and just offers an overall better experience in my opinion.
What is your favorite hotel in Washington, D.C.?
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