Hotel Review: A Park Junior Suite at the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
During a summertime trip to the East Coast, I found myself with two free days to spend visiting friends in Washington, D.C. As I looked around for a hotel, I discovered that the Park Hyatt had recently undergone a renovation of its guest rooms, so was curious to see how they'd turned out.
For the nights I needed, Park Deluxe King rooms started at $232 for a fully pre-paid non-refundable rate, or $289 if I wanted to be able to cancel up to 48 hours prior to check-in. Park Junior Suites started at $262 per night at the non-refundable rate or $319 at the standard rate. At this Category 5 Hyatt property, award nights require 20,000 World of Hyatt points each. Points + Cash awards were also available for my dates at the rate of 10,000 points + $125.
Basing it off the lowest available rates would have given me a value of between 1.07 and 1.16 cents per point, depending on which redemption method I chose. That's well below the 1.8 cents at which TPG valued World of Hyatt points in his latest valuation, and even worse considering I would have been transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book — TPG values those at 2.2 cents apiece these days.
For a quick cost comparison, I checked Hyatt’s other DC properties for my dates and found the Grand Hyatt from $219 per night, while prices at several Hyatt Place properties around town ranged from $172 to $252 per night — the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill was the most expensive at $279 per night. By contrast, a stay at the Park Hyatt seemed like a relative bargain, even more so considering that I was finding rates at busier times of the year like October and November at $499 for Park Deluxe rooms and $629 for Junior Suites. Knowing my dates wouldn’t change, I decided to splurge on the Park Junior Suite City View room for $262. The rate for my two-night stay came to $522.40 plus $75.75 in taxes, for a total of $598.15.
Two days before my arrival, I received an email that said my stay was eligible for an upgrade, offering me several options to choose from. Out of curiosity, I went back to the hotel’s website to see how these rates compared to what someone making a new booking would be charged. Here’s what I found:
- Offer: $75 per night for a Park Executive Suite. Website: $170 more per night.
- Offer: $175 per night for the Georgetown Suite. Website: $270 more per night.
- Offer: $475 for the Ambassador Suite. Website: $970 more per night.
So, it turns out that the upgrade offers were, in fact, good deals. However, since I’d be traveling alone and not spending too much time in the room, I decided to forego the opportunity. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to book my stay so I'd earn 3x points for the travel purchase. And because Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, the total earning on my stay was equivalent to 8.5 points per dollar.
Check-In and Lobby
I took the Metro into the city from Reston and got off at the Foggy Bottom stop. From there, it was a brisk five-minute walk to the hotel, which is located at the corner of M and 24th Streets NW. The Fairmont is across the street, as is the Westin Georgetown, and the Ritz-Carlton is a block away. Though all the hotels in the area bill themselves as being in Georgetown, in reality, you have to walk across a bridge a few blocks away to get into the heart of the neighborhood. Still, they’re all close enough.
I arrived at 3:30pm and though I was clearly lugging a suitcase and another bag with me, it took the three doormen a moment or two to realize I might need some help with the door. They opened it for me, but none of them offered to help with my bags.
The first thing I noticed were the two glassed-in spaces on either side of the door. These light boxes are the work of photographic artist Amanda Weill, and their walls are decorated with images of the city’s famous cherry blossoms. I thought the effect was beautiful.
The lobby was not at all busy, and I did not have to wait to speak to a reception agent. I presented my identification and was greeted by name. I have elite status thanks to The Hyatt Visa Card so he thanked me for being a World of Hyatt Discoverist member.
Then, the reception agent asked if I’d been to the property before and whether I was there on business or for pleasure, then noted that I was in what he called “an upgraded room.” When I asked what type of room I had been upgraded to, he immediately blanched and apologized, explaining that I had not, in fact, been upgraded, but that the suite I’d booked had recently been renovated. I said I was under the impression all the rooms had been, and he told me they had, except for a handful of suites. I was confused as to why he’d mentioned this at all, but didn’t pursue the line of conversation further.
To be honest, this has to be one of my biggest hotel check-in pet peeves: when the agent tries to make you think you’ve gotten something extra special when it's actually what you booked in the first place. I think he was trying to get me excited about the suite, but that was not the way to do it.
After completing check-in, the agent walked me down the corridor past the bar and café to the elevator bank and sent me up to my room on my own. It occurred to me later that he hadn’t asked if I’d like a complimentary daily newspaper, which was supposed to be offered.
The elevators are nice, with mirrors, wood paneling and a little bench, you know, in case you don’t want to stand for the 15 seconds it takes to get to your floor. I hopped off on the ninth floor and walked down several different hallways until I arrived at my suite.
As I walked, I thought about how drab the hallways were — they were so dark and gray, it simply seemed dreary. Not only that, but apparently the refurbishment hadn’t included the doors, which looked old and had no padding when they closed so you could hear doors slamming up and down the hallways as the housekeeping staff made the rounds. I know what a pared down, ascetic aesthetic Park Hyatt hotels can have, but this seemed even more extreme than usual.
The hotel has 220 rooms total — 134 suites and 86 regular rooms — 216 of which have been renovated. While the Park Deluxe rooms are 336 square feet and consist of a single room with a bedroom and a small sitting area, my Park Junior Suite was much larger, at 544 square feet.
There was a foyer at the entrance with a side table and a carved wooden duck figurine on it. The door handle held an in-room breakfast menu and a small Do Not Disturb tag that you could put on the outside handle.
Next to the door was a wall panel that controlled the lights, though all I could figure out how to do was turn them all on or off — pushing the individual buttons for the living room, bedroom and bathroom had no effect. It struck me as odd that there was not an electronic Do Not Disturb option on here as well.
The redecoration was carried out under the aegis of New York designer Tony Chi, who had overseen the previous redecoration in 2006. He was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2009 thanks to his work on projects like the Park Hyatt Shanghai, MObar at the Mandarin Oriental New York and the Andaz 5th Avenue. Hallmarks of his design, such as neutral-toned palettes and a simplicity that borders on the austere, are evident everywhere.
The living room had a low divan with a gray cushion and a tan leather back. To one side was a small round table, while on the other was a stand with some shelves holding books on American handicrafts and a tray with glasses and complimentary bottles of Saratoga water.
There were also two shabby-chic white armchairs and a standing lamp. The carpet was woven from wool and had a plaid pattern with the same colors as the other furnishings. The desk was curved and faced out toward the windows and away from the door. It had a glass surface with a pattern of branches and flowers reminiscent of the cherry blossom light boxes in the lobby.
The desk held a touch-tone phone and next to it was a set of electrical outlets and a phone jack, as well as two light switches that didn’t seem to do anything. I thought this was a major shortcoming. If you’re renovating a room in 2017, why not put in an entire AV/power panel here with universal adapters, USB ports and all the other connectivity options guests are coming to expect?
The room had windows on two sides, which let in a lot of light. They were covered with blinds and had drapes you could pull shut. Both were operated manually, which I thought was another missed opportunity. Park Hyatt hotels are known for their technological touches, so why not install electronic shades?
As I mentioned, I had booked a Park Junior Suite City View room. In this case, that meant a view of the street and of the Fairmont.
Between the living room and the bedroom was a set of cabinets holding a mini-fridge with sodas and spirits.
Under that was a Nespresso machine with capsules of coffee and tea, which I used both mornings to make myself coffee.
Below this was another cabinet filled with sweets and chips.
The bedroom was spacious, taking up the same amount of room as the living area. The king-size bed was dressed in plain white linens, with a fitted sheet and a duvet but no top sheet. I thought the mattress was the right balance between soft and firm (at least for my taste) and the four pillows were nice.
The bed had a walnut-wood platform and a tan leather headboard like the divan out in the living room, while each side had an adjustable reading lamp. The wall behind it was a very pretty shade of blue and made from natural vegetable fiber.
Between the bed and the window was another set of shelves with another wooden duck. On the other side was a low shelf that functioned as a nightstand with yet another telephone and a lamp. It also held what looked like a control panel for the lights, but pressing the buttons on it produced no effect whatsoever, so I ended up just using the All On/All Off buttons on the panel near the entrance instead. Next to that was a sort-of surge protector with two more electrical outlets and two USB ports, one for tablets and one for other electronics.
The room had a 42-inch flatscreen TV mounted on the wall across from the bed — you could rotate the panel and watch it from the living room as well.
One of the great things about Hyatt is that it offers complimentary Wi-Fi to guests on an unlimited number of devices. When I checked in, I was given an access code, so I didn’t have to enter my room number or name to log in. While I do appreciate the fact that it was free, I would have liked it even more if it had worked faster.
The bathroom lay off to the left of the bedroom and had its own small foyer, in which two bathrobes hung on metal hooks.
There was a mirrored door on a track that you could slide shut for privacy. The bathroom itself was a study in simplicity, with black limestone walls and floors, and a vanity area with a wooden base and mirror frame.
The single sink’s countertop was also made from black limestone. There was a basket with several amenities, including a sewing kit and mouthwash, by the side of the sink. The toilet was set off to one side in a not-quite-private alcove.
Across from it was the closet area, with plenty of room for hanging clothes on either side, a stand for a piece of luggage and the in-room safe.
On the other side of the sink was the enormous shower area with an Asian-style open floor plan and a deep soaking tub.
The shower had a wall-mounted shower head and another hanging overhead — the wall-mounted one worked well, but the overhead one had terrible water pressure so I ended up not using it. I also thought the floor was really slippery, so be extra careful whenever you're stepping into and out of the shower.
The Park Hyatt provides Bergamote 22 toiletries from Le Labo, though when I first arrived, there were only two bottles of conditioner and no shampoo, so I had to go ask housekeeping for some. More on housekeeping later, though.
Although my two-night stay was comfortable and I liked the size of the suite, I was underwhelmed by the room overall. I thought the palette of gray, taupe and light blue was boring and the furniture was nondescript. Hyatt also missed an easy opportunity to update the in-room technology.
The hotel is home to one of DC's best-known restaurants, the Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern, where the seasonal (and expensive) menus feature products sourced from and attributed to specific farms around the region. The restaurant has its own rooftop garden and a chef’s table where you can sample special menus.
The main menu changes very frequently depending on what’s available from producers and the local markets. During my stay, it included dishes like an heirloom tomato salad with country ham and honey-thyme ricotta, wood oven-roasted bone marrow with beef-cheek marmalade, duck breast with tomato-orange marmalade and crispy soft-shell crab with black garlic barbecue sauce, among other choices. Due to personal plans, I didn’t have time to eat there this trip, but I do plan on going back again soon.
The main part of the restaurant is on the M Street side of the building, with huge windows that look out onto the street and a seasonal outdoor terrace. Closer to reception is a more casual lounge with a shorter, less expensive menu of seasonal small plates and cheese boards.
There were cool glassed-in booths as well as a long gallery with tables next to the windows and a marble bar with eight stools around it for a more intimate but casual scene.
Garden-inspired cocktails included the What’s Up Doc, made with bourbon, carrot juice and coffee; and Sancho’s Boy, made with tequila, lavender, peach and jalapeño. I went for a classic Manhattan, though, and thought it was delicious, even if it did cost $16.
The hotel’s small café area is called the Tea Cellar. In addition to coffee drinks, guests can order from a list of more than 50 exotic teas from China, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Africa.
When I checked in, the agent told me about the fitness center and spa. He'd said it was located on the third floor but when I got off the elevator there, signs directed me down the hall to one end of the hotel. From there, I had to go through another door and down the stairs to the floor below — I had to wonder, why not just have the entrance on the second floor?
The complex contained a small, sky-lit, saltwater pool.
There was a box of pool toys at one end for kids.
The Jacuzzi was up a little flight of stairs.
The gym was around the corner from the pool and there were towels, bottles and headphones available to use.
I thought the facility was small but nice, and the machines all seemed to be brand-new.
The hotel also has a single spa treatment room located next to the gym entrance although personally, I’d rather book an in-room spa treatment. However, the treatments were also pretty basic — a couple of massage and facial options with prices around $150 and up.
Although Park Hyatt properties can vary by World of Hyatt category, the brand is Hyatt’s most luxurious label, with only 39 properties across the globe. Call me misguided, but because of that and past stays at other Park Hyatt hotels, I was expecting a very high level of service. What I found was spotty at best. It started upon arrival with the hesitant door service, the check-in with the “upgraded room” mention and the lack of a newspaper offer. The missing shampoo was the next sign. All these things were small, but noticeable.
As I was heading out the first morning of my stay, I tried to find a housekeeper in the hallway to let them know I’d be gone. A service cart was stationed a few doors down from mine and I asked the housekeeper who came out of the room if she could take care of mine while I was gone. She simply replied, “That’s not one of mine,” and disappeared back into the guest room she’d been working on — no thought of mentioning it to a colleague or even asking me what room I was in. Instead, I went back to my room, called down to reception and asked them to inform housekeeping for me.
My room was clean when I got back, but the staff had taken my used towels without leaving me any new ones. Luckily, I found one bath towel left under the sink, so I was able to use that.
The first night, someone had come to turn down my room while I was out at dinner between 7:00pm–9:30pm. I left my room the second night at 7:15pm and returned at 11:00pm to find that it had not been turned down that night. No note had been left indicating that they’d tried to come in, so I’m not sure if turndown service is only offered occasionally or only on certain days. At any rate, it was confusing.
I utilized the Nespresso machine the first morning and used up a couple of coffee capsules, two creamers and a packet of sugar. I didn’t bother checking whether they’d been restocked until the following morning, when I found that one of the regular capsules was replaced with a decaf one — which didn’t help me at all — and no replacement creamers or sugars had been left.
Finally, I thought the door staff were all very friendly — if you could find them. There was usually someone on duty, but both nights when I got back from dinner, there was no one to be found. That was a problem the second day because I had to return an umbrella and there was no one there or at the reception desks, so I had to wait around for a few minutes until someone appeared.
Were any of these faults egregious? No. But they all spoke to a lack of effort and attention to detail that should not be the case at a hotel of this category in a world capital.
When I found out the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C. had been recently renovated, I was eager to check out the new rooms. However, I’d rate the redecoration — and my entire stay for that matter — as lackluster. The palette and décor touches were underwhelming, the technology didn't seem to have been updated and the service level was not up to Park Hyatt's usual standards. While I’d still book it over the Hyatt Regency and the Grand Hyatt in DC for the same price, I’m not going out of my way to stay here again.
Have you ever stayed at the Park Hyatt Washington, DC? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.