Sunday, April 12, 2009

WASHINGTON DC: St. Regis Hotel

I stayed at the St. Regis recently and found it to be only "OK". Though I wish I could proffer higher praise for a hotel with such a great reputation, I would describe this hotel as one that would have been considered the peak of luxury 20 years ago. Today, it feels like a grande dame who is past her prime.

When I entered the lobby to check in, it was hot and stuffy; a bad first impression. The people at the desk were polite and efficient, but did not strike me as at all friendly or warm (no pun intended).

My room was nice, though a bit overstuffed with furniture. The sofa was a pleasant touch, but contributed to the room's overall crowded feel. The minibar was the highlight of the room, as it had higher-end beverage products than most hotels. The complimentary Fiji water was also a nice touch.


The bathroom was also nice, but it lacked a tub. Sure, I take about three baths a year (compared to at least 362 showers) but I believe a high-end property like the St. Regis ought to offer the option.

Interestingly, the room was not equipped with an iron and ironing board, so I called my "butler" to collect and iron a shirt for an upcoming meeting. I was a bit surprised to learn I had just spent $11 to have the shirt ironed. I should have asked for an iron and board to be delivered.

The restaurant -- a joint venture with celebrity chef Alain Ducasse's operation -- was supposed to be the crowning jewel of the hotel, but it wasn't open on Sunday or Monday nights -- the two nights I was there. Disappointing.

On the day of my departure, I asked for a late check-out. Though they couldn't offer a 4 p.m. check-out because they were sold out that night, they did extend my check-out time to 12:30, which should have been enough. However, after I got back from my meeting (at noon), I found the 24 hours of Internet service I'd purchased starting at 4 p.m. the previous afternoon had been turned off. When I called the front desk to explain I had paid for this and needed it to do some work before check-out, the clerk couldn't quite understand what I meant or needed, and sent someone from maintenance to my room. The maintenance man understood and was able to get the service turned back on, but it took 15 minutes of my "extra" half hour, so I wasn't able to do all I'd hoped.

The location was good -- only two blocks from the White House -- and it was pleasant enough considering the rate I was able to obtain. However, all else considered, I'd recommend the nearby Hay-Adams over the St. Regis if an outstanding experience is what you seek.


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Photos by Carl Dombek
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