DC Elite: A Review of The St. Regis Washington DC
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To The Point
The St. Regis DC is an impressive and imposing hotel right in the center of the nation’s capital. Pros: Unbeatable location, friendly and professional service, beautiful suite upgrade and no upcharge for a third guest. Cons: Limited dining options and on-site amenities.
One of my favourite things to do over the last few years has been to take a staycation, spending a few nights staying in a hotel in my home city exploring and eating like a tourist. In Chicago and Shanghai, this has helped me discover parts of the city I might have otherwise missed, and on a recent trip home to see my family in Maryland I was excited to spend a few days staying in downtown Washington, DC, and playing tourist.
DC is a small and intimate city, and it’s not uncommon to see senators and presidential motorcades out and about. From the moment I arrived, The St. Regis exuded an air of power and importance that reminded you where you were. This was a place to see and be seen.
We ended up booking two nights at The St. Regis for $780 (~£640) after taxes. This is a Category 7 hotel, meaning that free nights normally cost 60,000 points. TPG UK values Marriott points at 0.7p each, making 60,000 points worth £420, so we came out ahead paying cash for this stay.
I was staying with my girlfriend and her little sister on this trip, so I opted to apply my last two Suite Night Awards to this reservation. I’ve had great success using these so far, and sure enough, exactly five days before arrival I got an email from Marriott letting me know that my upgrade had cleared into a St. Regis suite, giving us more than enough room for three people.
The St. Regis is centrally located on the corner of 16th and K streets, just two or three blocks north of Lafayette Park and the White House. If you’re traveling for business, you’ll have no problem getting to all the corporate offices on K Street, while tourists will enjoy the short leisurely walk down to the monuments. The McPherson Square Metro station is just a block away, connecting the hotel to Reagan National Airport (DCA) via the Metro blue line and getting you close to Dulles Airport (IAD) via the silver line.
I received an email from the hotel a few days before arrival letting me know that there was road work being done outside the main entrance, blocking the driveway for parts of the day. We ended up loading and unloading our bags at the curb, which wasn’t a problem at all.
I arrived a little after 3pm and went to the reception desk, which was tucked away in a small alcove at the back of the lobby. The check-in process felt very personal, as the woman helping me referenced a few details I’d been emailing with the concierge about (such as welcoming my girlfriend back to DC one year after she’d finished school here), though she didn’t make any mention of my elite status. I was disappointed when she said that my suite still wasn’t ready by the published check-in time, but she suggested I head over to the bar to wait and offered to comp my drinks to make up for the delay.
My girlfriend and her sister were flying up from Miami and hadn’t yet arrived, so I decided to wait for them in the hotel’s stunning lobby.
Around 4:30pm, someone came over to inform me that the room was ready, and by the time I got up the escalator, my bag had already been brought up.
Our St. Regis suite was on the seventh floor, right next to the elevator. There was a small hallway by the door that opened out into the spacious living room.
There was a six-seat dining table, where I found a small welcome amenity waiting for me: a bottle of Voss water (normally $8 from the minibar), a box of Astor chocolates and a handwritten welcome note from the manager.
The other side of the room had a couch and several chairs, as well as a desk with a minibar setup on top of it.
Between that and the in-room wine dispenser, there was no shortage of alcohol around.
Opposite the couch was a massive TV, which came with an extra HDMI cable to plug in your own device.
The bedroom was simple yet elegant, though it immediately lost a few points for only having outlets on one side of the bed.
There was another smaller TV across from it, as well as some closets, but we mainly stuck to the one in the living room.
Behind the bedroom was the suite’s only bathroom. I say “only” because a suite this size would normally come with at least two bathrooms, one full and one half by the door. While it certainly wasn’t a problem, it was a little tougher sharing one bathroom with three people.
In the center of the bathroom was a massive tub flanked on either side by a rainfall shower and the toilet. I liked how spacious the shower was, and the water pressure was just incredible.
Toiletries were provided by Laboratoire Remède, as is the norm at a St. Regis. These are among my favorite hotel toiletries out there, though they appeared to be phasing out the face wash (the last two St. Regis properties I stayed at didn’t offer it). While many hotels are switching to large or bulk toiletries, this property still used tiny bottles. With three people in the room, including two girls with long hair, we went through a shocking amount of plastic in one weekend.
I’d emailed the hotel to request a rollaway bed, but we ended up having to call downstairs and remind them a few hours after we arrived.
I also appreciated that during turndown service, the housekeeping staff left a variety of DC-themed chocolates on the bed.
This certainly wasn’t the biggest suite I’d ever stayed in, though with the building-height limits in this part of DC, I understand that space is at a premium. That being said, the room layout and design felt comfortable and functional, and I really enjoyed this room. Other than the lack of a second bathroom, my only complaint was the Wi-Fi network, which just couldn’t seem to stay connected.
Food and Beverage
Never ones to turn down a free drink, we went to The St. Regis’s bar on our first evening. The original Bloody Mary was invented at The St. Regis New York, according to one legend, so each St. Regis around the world has its own signature twist on the classic drink. In DC, the bartenders serve the Capitol Mary, where the rim of the glass is coated in Old Bay crab seasoning. If you like a spicy, mouth-numbing, wake-you-up cocktail, this will not disappoint. Hands down my favorite signature Mary, including the famed Island Mary at The St. Regis Maldives.
Though I could have selected free breakfast as my welcome amenity, the special room rate we booked to use the Bonvoy Brilliant luxury-property credit happened to include a $30 breakfast credit per person at the hotel’s Alhambra restaurant. We got a large bowl of seasonal berries to share with the table, and I had the crabcake Benedict, which was unbelievably delicious.
My girlfriend had the avocado smash with lox and two poached eggs served on a thick piece of toast. We used up our $30 credit and then some without any effort, but the food was high-quality. Note that it was also possible to use your breakfast credit for room service, though the delivery fees would eat away at that quickly.
We came back to try Alhambra for dinner, but because it was restaurant week, we were limited to a relatively small set menu. The design of the restaurant itself was nice and elegant, though it didn’t seem to match the Mediterranean and French fusion cuisine that was being served.
The benefit of the restaurant-week menu was that it was only $35 for an appetizer, entree and dessert. We all started with the cauliflower tagine. The dish was served in a yogurt sauce that provided a perfect complement to the crunchy cauliflower.
Next was the filet mignon with eggplant gratin and salsa verde. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the salsa verde provided a boost of freshness.
For dessert I had the flourless chocolate cake in lavender cream, while my girlfriend had the summer peaches.
It’s hard to argue with receiving this entire meal for $35 per person, but at the same time I would have loved the chance to order off the larger standard menu. Obviously, that’s not the restaurant’s fault, just bad timing on our part.
On our last morning, we decided to go to the gym before breakfast. The gym, as well as the lobby bathrooms and many of the hotel’s meeting rooms, were hidden in winding hallways in the basement. In fact, if it hadn’t been signed, the entrance to the gym would’ve looked just like the breakout rooms next to it.
The gym was fairly small, with three treadmills, a few ellipticals, a set of weights and two or three machines. The three of us took up most of the space in the room, and I couldn’t see this gym comfortably accommodating more than six or seven people at a time.
It was also awkward coming out of the gym in sweaty workout clothes while people in suits were streaming into a conference room ready to start their day.
While not specific to this hotel, we finally managed to take part in a St. Regis tradition that had eluded us up until now: the daily Champagne sabering. At 6pm every day at every St. Regis property around the world, one of the butlers delivers a beautiful speech about the history of sabering, the art of opening a Champagne bottle with a saber. He quoted Napoleon and told us, “Champagne in victory when deserved, and Champagne in defeat when needed.” Of course any guests who happen to be in the lobby then get to enjoy a free glass of Champagne, which is always nice.
Our stay was relatively short, and we were out of the hotel exploring as much as possible, but the service that we did receive was very professional. I prefer friendly and personal service over formal and distant, and this hotel walked a fine line between the two. The staff wasn’t as quirky and engaged as at the W Dubai or Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, but they were also friendlier and a little less robotic than at The St. Regis New York.
In a walking city like DC, where public transit is unreliable (at best), location matters more than just about anything. In that area, The St. Regis absolutely nailed it. Overall, the hotel was beautiful both inside and out, as you would expect from a luxury brand and a high-category property. I don’t really have anything bad to say about this hotel, and I know I’ll be returning for more Capitol Marys and to try Alhambra on a normal day.