I come from a boutique hotel background and my specialty remains small meetings. So it’s not every day I have the opportunity to book one of my groups in one of the area’s largest hotels and it’s also rare that I get to stay in that hotel while the group is taking place. Such was the case this past week when my wife and son joined me on a business trip to the Washington Hilton.
The Washington Hilton has been a DC icon for decades. Made famous more than thirty years ago with the attempted Reagan assassination, the hotel has long escaped that infamy. Now best known for having the largest ballroom in the District and for being able to accommodate the area’s most space intensive group, the hotel may feature well over 1,000 rooms, but its service standards and cozy spaces make it feel far more like a smaller property than it is. It’s magnificent swan shaped floorplan with a central elevator corridor makes rooms easy to access no matter where.
For one, the lobby is not gargantuan. There’s certainly enough room to accommodate a large group check in, but there’s also little pockets where guests can mingle, check email, grab coffee, a bite to eat, or even do a little gift shopping. I hope certain family members aren’t reading this but my wife was rather successful in the costume jewelry store, in fact. There’s also two restaurants and a wonderful outdoor terrace recently fitted with gorgeous fire pits. It’s an exceptional place for entertaining.
Given the hotel’s elevation, even though it’s only a ten story building, set high upon a hill the views of the surrounding area are wonderful. This was made even better by our staying on the tenth floor, the Executive Level where we were able to procure a quick breakfast each morning with the baby, where I could do a little bit of emailing, and even enjoy a nightly reception as well. The hotel is well known for housing dignitaries and celebrities alike – heck, the hotel’s ownership group is part comprised of Magic Johnson. So in the Executive Lounge on my first day of breakfast, I ran into none other than Paul Sorvino! Paulie from Good Fellas, you know!
Where the hotel really succeeds is being able to host more than one space intensive conference simultaneously. Their space is extensive and well segregated. My group was perfectly content and while a good size, by no means the largest group in house during this time. Food quality and service is also top notch. Although the hotel will be gaining one giant competitor next May when the Marriott Marquis opens, there’s still a big need for a big convention style hotel away from the convention center. The Hilton will always be a DC icon.