As I continue to re-qualify for Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum (and as a result, matched over to Marriott Platinum) my tour of SPG properties continues from coast-to-coast. This property, the Westin Alexandria located just outside of Washington DC, ran the gamut from upgrade difficulties to breakfast experiments.
The Westin Alexandria is easily accessible by highway 95/495 near Old Town and Landmark. The US Patent Office was a two block walk and a courthouse is across the street. The lobby filled with lawyers meeting clients before hearings. It was reasonably close to Washington DC proper, but far enough away that some of the traffic and headaches could be avoided. Joint Base Andrews was not far from the property.
400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
+1 (703) 253-8600
I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, perfect time for checkin. The counter was wide open and I approached, armed with my cell phone and the SPG app refreshing the available room types. We made it about halfway through the process and I asked if there was a suite available. One receptionist was very kind and said she would check, while her colleague indicated that the hotel was sold out and there were no suites available. My frustration with this issue is extending from the hotel level to the SPG program more broadly who clearly tolerate this violation of their rules. If there was a consequence for violating the program’s Platinum upgrade rules, I doubt I would run into this so often.
I’m not asking for the presidential suite, I’ll leave that to Hyatt – but let’s not debate over a Premier Studio and how that is a suite and not a standard hotel room.
“I have the app open now, I will just book one of the many suites available for sale and let SPG sort out my rate when I call them from my room.” I looked to the less friendly of the two associates. I tilted my phone back and forth with the app open for her to see (though it was likely too far away) and raised my eyebrows. She miraculously found a suite from a guest who “just cancelled” while I was standing there. Imagine that! Does the chirade never tire?
Verbal exchanges between the three of us from that point forward were limited. I accepted my key, didn’t further antagonize and retreated to my room. I don’t understand why they bother to lie when it is clearly verifiable by anyone with a smartphone, and if this is under the direction of their supervisors – why? They just annoy their most frequent customers and make it less likely they will return. Besides, if a Platinum member calls customer service to complain it’s far more likely to be escalated and cause the hotel problems than any other guest – it just doesn’t seem logical to me.
Entering the suite, a large foyer approximately 10′ long and 8′ wide separated from the living room but served very little purpose. Along the wall was a large set of cupboards and a countertop but oddly, no mini fridge of any kind. I opened every single one of the doors to make sure. I continued my search inside the living room under the TV where another small cabinet was found. Nothing in there either. Nowhere in the room was a mini fridge to be found, though there should have been (not just according to me but also to staff downstairs.)
The desk was an excellent size, but lacked some ambient lighting. While there was a lamp on the desk it was a little bright and focused, leaving part of the desk very bright and the far side in the dark. I know this seems nitpicky but it was noticeable that it was both too dark to read long passages of text in the afternoon but like turning on a spotlight with the lamp. Sometimes it seems that designers and contractors don’t actually stay in the rooms they build (even the mockups) or they would make real changes.
The rest of the living room was spacious, well-designed and luxurious. I would have been happy to host guests before a dinner and could have separated the space from the bedroom by a closed door.
Both a large closet and ample dresser were available, the latter holding the TV. The corner room windows wrapped around providing an excellent view of the courthouse and buildings opposite the property.
At the foot of the bed was a small lounge, helpful for both holding luggage during a short stay and get dressed in the morning. There was another reading chair and ottoman opposite that was showing a little fatigue in places. It was the only thing in the room that looked tired, the rest seemed to be very new, very well maintained.
I have tried the roll on sleep aid available in Westin rooms almost every time I stay there and have not found it to be particularly helpful, even as a placebo. Sometimes I sleep great at Westins (like this one) other times I do not but it tends to revolve around normal things that affect my sleep and their wellness roll on hasn’t helped me to my knowledge yet. Maybe others have had a beneficial effect?
The bathroom was pretty pedestrian when compared to the rest of the room. What I found so confusing was that the property had updated several elements of the room including the bathroom but the shower over top seemed to miss the mark. They had bothered to put in a rain showerhead, but for whatever reason (I assume cost) they left the tub and shower curtain as opposed to replacing it with a dedicated shower.
One thing I like about business hotels like Hyatt Regency properties and Westin hotels is their recent focus on healthy options. I am not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination, but so often on the road the choices are limited to very bad options especially in hotel restaurants. The Westin has gone out of their way to give guests healthy choices and I appreciate that. The evening I arrived, I killed some time before a late dinner and found that the bar/restaurant offered reasonable specials and happy hour snacks. It was packed from early evening until I left just before 7PM.
They can’t all be home runs, that much is certain, but most of the items I have had hit the mark. On this stay I had an eggwhite omelet with spinach and feta cheese, the side salad for breakfast was a hard sell but I felt like a champ after I choked it down.
The drink, which I would have loved if I could have made it work, sadly was just not a good fit. I would pass on that in the future despite generally loving fresh pressed juices and superfoods for breakfast.
Have you stayed at this property recently? What did I miss? Do you like Westin’s healthy options? What about the constant checkin charade?