Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC: Westin City Center

I just completed a stay at the Westin Washington DC City Center on M Street. As with many hotels in DC, the rooms at the Westin City Center are a bit smaller than elsewhere (though nothing like those in New York City) but, as with most Westins, nicely appointed.

The rooms that face the atrium are a bit dark but that's not always undesirable. The Heavenly Bed was as advertised and provided a good night's rest.

The on-site restaurant was good. The night I arrived, I had a salad and shrimp tempura, which were both generously sized and well-prepared. When I returned to my room, I decided another glass of wine from the mini bar was in order, but I found that a previous guest had opened the white wine, poured a glass, then put the rest back in the 'fridge. Housekeeping had never spotted that the bottle had been opened (more difficult with screw top bottles than with cork), so I had to call for a replacement. A few minutes later, a new UNOPENED bottled arrived on ice. High marks for service.

M y room, however, did lack one feature I've come to consider standard: there was no in-room Bible provided. When I asked at the desk, the clerk said they don't put Bibles in the rooms. Starwood later told me this hotel is a franchise, not Starwood-owned, and the owners decided against Bibles in the rooms, though they are available upon request.

Perhaps as a nod to the multi-cultural city that is our nation's capital, the owners should consider placing a card on the nightstand saying something like, "Devotional reading material is available at the front desk. We have the Torah, Holy Bible (Protestant and Catholic), Book of Mormon, and Koran available at your request."

The location is not the most central in DC but my meeting was only about four blocks from this hotel -- near the McPherson Square Metro station -- so it served most of my needs well. However, I thought the prices for breakfast at the hotel restaurant were extreme, even for a Westin in Washington, DC.($15 for bacon and eggs, for example), but there were relatively few restaurants that served breakfast in the neighborhood (apart from Starbuck's and Cosi), so it was a choice of either paying the fare or eating more modestly.

The $199 room rate was good for DC, but if I had canceled more than 24 hours before arrival, I could have rebooked an "Internet-only" special on Starwood.com for $139. It often pays to check for last-minute bargains, especially in these troubled economic times.

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