I don’t often write a thank you note to a hotel; but I don’t often have a near perfect experience at one either. However, this past weekend, our experience at the the Hay Adams hotel was so close to perfection, it seemed only natural to write and tell them – and to share the experience with you.
We’ve stayed in quite a few hotels in the Washington DC area, mostly in the neighborhood around the White House. Each time we go, we seem to nudge our way closer to the White House. This time, we literally couldn’t get any closer, without intruding upon the President and First Lady!
I cheated a little on our welcome by writing to the Hay Adams hotel ahead of time to tell them that it was my husband’s birthday. I thought they might wish him a happy birthday upon checking in, but I never expected the warm welcome we got, which included a huge room upgrade with breathtaking views over the White House, and the surprise delivery of a delicious chocolate cake (for my chocoholic husband, this little touch went over well!).
Everything about our room was pretty, but what I loved most were the details: from the toile fabric in the bedroom and bathroom, the linens on the beds, the period details on the plaster ceilings, the gorgeous hardware in the bathroom (remember, I’m a hardware junkie), the plush towels, the beautiful toiletries, the bathrobes, to the old fashioned beveled glass bathroom door. My favorite thing was lying on the sumptuous bed and admiring the view of the White House, beautifully lit up and silhouetted against the dark sky, reflected in the mirrors of the old fashioned closet doors.
As you know by now, we Huffingtons love art, houses … and hotels! And we’re always looking for the perfect little jewels that stand out from the crowd. You may remember a blog we wrote about our favorite hotel in Paris, the Duc de St. Simon, which is not exactly a well-known destination. Well, here I was, luxuriating in the experience of my new favorite hotel in Washington DC, when I happened to open up the current issue of Conde Nast Traveler with their Gold List for 2015 and it featured the Duc de St. Simon! How is that for hotel radar? (I know, it’s not very impressive but it seemed like kismet at the time!)
How do you get a better room, and enjoy a fuller experience in a hotel like the Hay Adams? Here’s my advice:
– Travel off season, and you’ll get the better rate, by far – so you may consider upgrading your choice of rooms
– Let the hotel know ahead of time if it’s a special occasion
– If you know the hotel, write to them ahead of time and (nicely) request a better room. (When we stay at the Helmsley Park Lane in NYC, I always ask them for a high up Park view. And guess what: I always get it!)
– Write them a thank you note if they have been particular wonderful. They may not always respond, but it’s a nice gesture, and who doesn’t love getting a thank you note?
– Go back often. Hotels love to see repeat guests and they’ll be sure to treat you better than ever.
– If you’ve booked it online, take themtime to write them a review, even if your experience wasn’t stellar. They need to hear it all, and that’s the only way they’ll improve.
My guess is that the Hay Adams probably wasn’t always this fabulous. But they learned from people taking the time to let them know what matters most in a hotel. To me, it’s all the details I mentioned above. The killer view goes a long way too. And of course the service is extremely important as well. That’s a lot of input from clients and a lot of perfecting to do. But hotels count on travelers like us to help get it all right, down to the perfect “turn-down” detail.
So we think we’ve found perfection as close as we can to the White House. Next time we’re in D.C., we know where we want to stay … unless of course we’re invited to the White House!
(All photos are either my own or courtesy of the Hay Adams website.)