Although most Ritz-Carlton locations are near heaven for would be escapists throughout the year, there’s an extra magic about them and other luxury hotels during the holiday season, as a recent visit to the Ritz-Carlton Washington D.C. confirmed. From the welcoming comfort of the heat lamp bedecked porte cochere to the Christmas trees, menorahs, and holiday foliage trimming the lobby, the edifice exudes luxury. There’s hot chocolate on tap during the afternoon near the elevators, and chocolate chip cookies baked from a recipe from the Kennedy White House in a glass bowl near reception.
If the free hot chocolate in the lobby doesn’t quench, there are also hot chocolates from around the world available in the lobby lounge through December 31. They’re available both plain ($8) or spiked ($12). The South African version is a blend of dark and milk chocolate from Madagascar which can be spiked with the African liqueur Amarula. The Indian version is spiced with cinnamon and black cardamom and can be spiked with St. Elizabeth All Spice liqueur. Ibarra hot chocolate from Mexico is made with the eponymous Mexican chocolate infused with cinnamon and mixed with a pinch of hot pepper that can be spiked with Patron X.O. Café Tequila. And finally, an Italian version is whipped with mascarpone cream and can be spiked with Frangelico.
Room rates start at $249 plus tax. Club level rooms start at $399 and include access to the Club Lounge, which offers five food and beverage presentations per day.
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A glass of Champagne (or a bottle of water) was offered during Registration. The agents at the front desk were friendly and accommodating, although the small space of the area and low ceiling made it difficult to hear as there were some boisterous families enjoying the atmosphere of the lobby.
In one alcove there’s a gingerbread house, created by the hotel’s pastry team. Each year the team creates a gingerbread house replica of one of the buildings in D.C.’s West End, and this year the honor goes to the public policy firm Manatos & Manatos, which is across the street from the hotel.
This is the bedroom of a Club Level 1 Bedroom Suite, which had one and a half baths (the full bath was gigantic), Asprey bath amenities, and a balcony.
The living room of the suite was comfortably furnished, with several periodicals available for perusing, including Vogue and Conde Nast Traveler (not just the usual hotel room promotional materials) in addition to Ritz-Carlton’s own magazine. There’s a minibar, but the bellstaff were quick to point out that Club Lounge (steps away on the same floor) access includes complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails.
How many people will find their initials monogrammed on their pillowcase when they arrive in their room? While neither functional nor practical, this is a bespoke luxury hotel experience at maximum “Wow” Factor.
The Club Lounge!
The Club Lounge offers five food and beverage presentations per day. Shown here are the evening hors d’oeuvres. Many of the cheeses are local to Northern Virginia and Maryland.
Also included among the hors d’oeuvres were vegetable crudité and a variety of olives.
Quinoa and Mango Salad served in a roasted pepper shell was another of the hors d’oeuvres on offer.
The Fish Cake!
Another hors d’oeuvre was this salted cod fritter with corn salad, smoked paprika, and a smoked paprika aioli. The food in the Club Lounge was remarkable; the kitchen definitely seized the opportunity to “strut its stuff”.
The Club Lounge is accessible 24 hours via keycard, and there are always cookies and other snacks available during times when the food and beverage presentations are not laid out. Shown here are only a small sampling of the desserts and after dinner cordials laid out during the dessert service.
A selection of desserts along with a glass of Hennessy. Zuriash the Club Concierge was lovely and engaging. She’d been working in the lounge for over a decade and seemed to have the preferences of thousands of individual guests in her head. She talked about new restaurant openings and local D.C. happenings, and was sure to keep the Hennessy flowing. Her compatriot Beneliza had only been at Ritz-Carlton for a few months; bright faced and chatty she shared that her previous career was with a luxury cruise line.
Upon return to the room, some bottled sparkling water infused with thyme, cranberries, and mandarin oranges had been left along with some fresh fruit and a personalized welcome note.
The continental breakfast the next morning was lavish. Club Concierge Dickson was quick to offer mending a button that came off a sweater; it was returned good as new before a cup of coffee could be finished. The breakfast setting offered fresh fruit, cereal, wonderful croissants both au chocolat and plain, muffins, bacon-and-cheese pastries, quiche, oatmeal, cold cuts, cheese, smoked salmon with all the trimmings and “if there’s anything you don’t see that you’d like, just let us know.” Upon pouring a cappuccino from the machine Club Concierge Curtis noticed, “Oh let me make you a ‘Curtis Cappuccino’ it’ll be much better.” And it certainly was.