The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City proves that good service goes a long way, especially on a “staycation.”
By Laura Wainman
I am not a girl who needs a fancy hotel. I have experienced my fair share of camping (no, not glamping), roadside motels and rooms whose biggest draw was the free continental breakfast. But there are few luxuries in this life nicer than a truly excellent hotel stay, and who does luxury finer than the Ritz-Carlton?
When a friend’s recent birthday beach plans had to be abruptly changed due to an impending hurricane, the girls gathered together and decided to indulge in a glam “staycation” weekend instead. Tasked as the trip organizer, I turned to the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City to see what could possibly be done. Even though it was the Wednesday before the weekend we wanted to stay, the Ritz managed to book us two deluxe guest rooms for Friday and Saturday night. When you are visiting a new city, perhaps the hotel room and amenities don’t matter as much considering the majority of your trip will be spent outside the hotel exploring the new destination, but on a staycation, where you are already intimately familiar with the area, you want to indulge on the hotel. From the moment we arrived at the hotel (amid my friend’s excited shrieks of “no you didn’t” when she saw the name Ritz-Carlton), we knew we had made the right choice, as the hotel rolled out a metaphoric red carpet for us all weekend.
Arriving with the birthday girl before the rest of our party, we headed to the check-in desk where we were very pleasantly surprised to learn we had been upgraded to Club Level rooms for the weekend, which granted us access to the intimate, cozy lounge on the 18th floor. With continuous complimentary culinary offerings throughout the day (breakfast, light snacks, hors d’oeuvres, cordials and desserts) and a dedicated concierge to assist with any needs, it was the ideal spot to plan out our day or unwind with a little girl talk over mimosas or a glass of wine, depending on the hour. For guests traveling on business, the Club Lounge also offers complimentary Wi-Fi and complimentary garment pressing of up to two pieces per day. We checked out the lounge before heading to our rooms, where we found a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us. If there is one thing I cannot say enough about the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, it’s that their service and attention to detail go above and beyond. From the Club Lounge concierges, who were more than willing to oblige our continual requests for hot chocolate at all times of day, to the valet, bellhops and front desk staff, we were made to feel like royalty during our stay, from singing happy birthday every time we walked in the lobby to bringing out what seemed like every member of the kitchen staff to chat with us during our tea. No request is too small, and more importantly, every guest is valued.
Speaking of tea, the Afternoon Tea in the Fyve, the hotel restaurant, lounge is an experience not to be missed and was possibly the best part of our stay. The tea is served on Saturdays (2:30-4:30 p.m.) and Sundays (3-4:30 p.m.) and ranges in price from $29-$42 a person ($16 for children). This being an indulgent weekend, we opted for the Tea Royal, which came with a glass of mimosa, bellini or wine to start followed by a selection of the chef’s seasonal tea sandwiches (the chicken curry in a quinoa crust was a table favorite), homemade scones served with clotted Devonshire cream, lemon curd and fruit preserves, a gorgeous wheel of the pastry chef’s sweets of the day and, of course, a pot of tea, with four flavors to choose from. The one thing we noted was there seemed to be a slight imbalance between the savory offerings and the sweet, as our group could not get enough of the sandwiches and felt a little overwhelmed by the sweets. However, on par with the rest of our experience, the staff was quick to accommodate our request and kept bringing us additional savory options as we requested them. Yet another example of the above and beyond mentality was highlighted at the tea when our server brought out a gorgeous miniature chocolate raspberry cake with a candle and “Happy Birthday” written on white chocolate. The experience would be perfect for any number of occasions from mother-daughter bonding time, to anniversaries, birthdays, holiday get togethers or just a fun afternoon activity on a slow weekend.
Seeing as this was a girl’s weekend, shopping was a must, and luckily the ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City is conveniently located right next door to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. After we found the perfect birthday dress and accessories to boot, the group decided to hit the pool to relax. The fitness center was well-appointed for a hotel fitness room, complete with a sauna and steam room and a simple but heated, indoor pool. Again, it was the little things that stood out such as the complimentary bottles of water, refreshing cucumber water in the weight room, chilled towels, disposable earphones and a lifeguard on duty, which is virtually on heard of at a hotel pool and a nice safety measure for parents. Truly the only thing we found wanting at this hotel was the lack of a spa, which would have just been the cherry on top of an incredible hotel experience. I cannot recommend the hotel enough, and have suggested the Afternoon Tea experience to several visiting friends since. The superior customer service that one would expect from any Ritz-Carlton is in over drive at Pentagon City and you will leave feeling like kings and queens.