W Hotel, Washington DC
LYNN ELSEY reports on a well-positioned hotel in Washington DC where service is king.
In America’s capital, access is everything. The closer you are to power, the better. Elvis Presley certainly thought so. In 1970 when he wanted President Nixon to get him a federal agent badge, Presley based his campaign from the Washington Hotel, housed in a stately Beaux Arts building a block from the White House.
Although the Washington Hotel became the W in 2009, Presley would feel at home here today. The W’s trendy ambiance – pink and purple hues, leopard-print lounges, occasional glittering chandelier – coupled with discreet, top notch service adroitly bridges the gap between being a hip place to hang out and providing the up-market extras that more mature travellers expect.
Situated in the heart of Washington DC, the W is an excellent base for anyone seeking to win a favour from the Oval Office or simply wanting close proximity to many of the city’s key sights.
In the hotel’s sprawling high ceilinged lobby, music plays a starring role. Modern Elvises will feel right at home with individual listening stations perched aside comfy huge armchairs and lively music wafting all around; there’s even a DJ setup in one corner. The modern theme extends to a number of vivid paintings and murals throughout the hotel.
The W’s hip credentials come to a head at the hotel’s famed rooftop bar, called POV, which draws a steady crowd from all over. The view is fabulous, even if other patrons and music might make those in the sunset half of their lives feel a bit old. If you prefer to relax over a quiet drink, the W’s Root Cellar Whiskey Bar offers an array of top shelf whiskeys and other drinks along with plenty of interesting nibbles. In the warmer months, these can be enjoyed outdoors, as you watch all the action along famed Pennsylvania Avenue.
As someone past the peak of hipdom, I found the service, staff and amenities at the W a pleasant surprise. Everything was seamless; no request was too much. The reception staff always greeted us personally and everyone seemed poised to ensure that our stay was exceptional. The hotel’s trademark “Whatever/Whenever” service worked a charm.
As we settled into our quite spacious “Fantastic” suite, a fabulous welcoming treat arrived: a watermelon “pizza” served on a marble tray topped with a thin layer of Greek yoghurt and fresh berries. The delicious treat was just the start of many unexpected surprises.
For starters, our suite’s living area included a curving sofa, ever-so-tall armchair plus a dining table and chairs. The enormous bathroom came complete with a shower and tub, encased in frosted glass, large enough for a small party. And the suite offered mesmerising views over DC, including the adjacent White House.
Astonishingly, the suite also came equipped with a private, complimentary bar. No minibar-sized booze here, we had an array of party-sized bottles of liquor plus two bottles of very nice wine. The minibar was also free, including champagne. Suite guests also get a generous $100 credit to use in the hotel, along with full breakfast and high-speed internet.
The W’s Mediterranean-themed restaurant, Pinea, was another pleasant surprise. Whether dining indoors or outside on the patio, the prices are more than reasonable for the quality, especially considering the location. Breakfast was decidedly king-like, with everything from yogurt and omelettes to American-style selections, including crab cakes benedict, waffles, steak and eggs and waffles. But everything came with an interesting twist – the omelette includes goat’s cheese, pancakes are made from whole wheat and ricotta. There’s even avocado on toast, with egg and spinach. Waistlines be warned.
After a long day walking around the monuments, a visit to the W’s spa, called Bliss, is in order. It’s a bluey place, from the translucent blue sky mural at reception to the bluesy jazz music in the background. In short, an ideal place to relax, refresh and prepare for an evening on the town.
Even if you aren’t hankering after a presidential favour, staying in a suite a stone’s throw from the White House and just blocks from many of the city’s major drawcards, most assuredly has its benefits. Channelling the King has never been so easy.
Originally published in the September 2018 edition of the NSW Law Society Journal.