Arrival/Check-in: I took Amtrak from Trenton, N.J., to Union Station in Washington, D.C., and, remarkably, pulled into the station early. On my way to the hotel, I was able to view a little bit of Washington — always a pleasure. When I arrived, the bell staff offered help with my bags and directed me to the registration desk. Although the line to check in was a little longer than I would expect, at the desk a friendly clerk greeted me, apologized for the delay and checked me into my room swiftly and with a smile. She won me over and I quickly forgot about the wait. (27/30)
Guest Quarters: My suite was magnificent, furnished with a small dining table and four chairs, a sofa, two overstuffed chairs and a coffee table, and a wonderful Hepplewhite-style desk that served as a perfect workstation. The powder room off the main hallway made the suite perfect for conducting business as you could totally shut off the bedroom from the living area. The suite’s artwork included pictures of historic Washington and botanical prints. The bedroom had a king-size bed and an entertainment center all perfectly arranged and designed. A small hallway off the bedroom led to a full bathroom with a shower and tub. (28/30)
Services /Amenities: The Willard lobby is worthy of attention, from the mosaic tile floor to the ceiling, decorated with all 50 U.S. state seals. It is said that the term “lobbyist” was coined here, inspired by the gentlemen who congregated in the lobby waiting to meet with members of Congress or even the president himself, as the White House is just two short blocks away.
Although I did not have dinner in the Willard Room, it comes highly rated and Chef Nicolas Legret’s credits include the Hotel Le Bristol and Hotel de Crillon in Paris.
The Round Robin Bar is where Kentucky congressman Henry Clay introduced the mint julep to Washington and it was frequented by Walt Whitman during the Civil War and by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, who created a stir by smoking in the Willard dining room.
Historical artifacts displayed in the hotel’s small museum include Abraham Lincoln’s hotel bill — he stayed at the Willard for two weeks with his family before his inauguration. It is said that his first presidential paycheck went to settle his bill at the Willard. (36/40)
The Experience: You can’t ask for much more. The location is perfectly suited for business, and the hotel’s history and architecture are second to none in Washington. The building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, who also designed New York’s Plaza and Boston’s Copley Plaza hotels. From my suite I had a spectacular view of the Washington Monument, which perfectly suited the Willard’s history and ambience.
Total Score: (91/100)
The Willard InterContinental
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
tel 202 628 9100
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