Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cherry Blossoms in DC

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I am interrupting the China redux to post on a more recent trip. At the end of March, my husband and I got away for an overnight to nearby Washington, DC. My mom was in town and we were so looking forward to some grownup time. Found out the hard way that I'm allergic to my allergy medicine (tree pollen am I smart to go for the cherry blossom festival or WHAT?) and didn't enjoy the trip quite as much as I'd hoped, but here's the report:

LODGING: Hotel Lombardy, near the campus of my alma mater The George Washington University, not far from the White House either. Unfortunately, hotel gets a D- for everything except the tremendously comfortable bed and pillows which were like a dream. Why the low grade? Each time the hotel staff had an opportunity to provide great service, they failed. They advertised a "cherry blossom special" on their website but it appeared that the webmaster forgot to tell the front desk staff what was being advertised. We were supposed to get complimentary breakfast and a commemorative box of chocolate covered cherries - sounded perfect, a little something nice for a good rate. WELL...asked concierge to call Kinkead's and make a dinner reservation and was assured we'd be able to get in earlier than the 9pm available on so we didn't make our own reservation. Checked into the hotel, asked about the reservation and got a blank stare from the attendant at the desk. She said she'd call and confirm, then call our room. No reservation had been made, so we're stuck at 5pm on a Friday during cherry blossom festival trying to find a reservation for dinner in one of the country's busiest restaurant towns. Room itself was so comfy-cozy, no complaints there, and for that reason (and convenient location) I will actually give this place another chance. Next problem: breakfast. Breakfast room was understaffed. We were not seated nor directed to seat ourselves. We finally sat down at a table that needed to be cleared. Nobody came to take a beverage order. Wondering how they know we are supposed to get complimentary breakfast. Found hotel manager who was doubling as a porter as they appeared terribly understaffed (I assume this is an industry-wide problem in DC) and she hand-wrote us the certificates ("didn't someone slip those under your door last night?" Uh, no.). Back to the breakfast room, bussed my own table because I was tired of looking at someone else's used coffee cup. Hotel manager comes in, I flag her down, SHE brings us our drinks (best fresh-squeezed juice we have EVER had) and finally the poor waitress comes over and takes our breakfast order. Last gaffe: no chocolates. Was dreading asking the manager, and when I did she said "can I mail them to you? I don't have access to those at the moment." Ok, fine. She did send them and they were delicious, but come on.

DINNER: McCormick & Schmick's on K Street. Would definitely eat there again though perhaps not with kids. 8:45 reservation was earliest we could get (see Hotel Lombardy concierge) but we enjoyed the oyster assortment and some drinks. Since we didn't have the little ones along, we didn't mind just sitting and chatting while we waited for our table.

OUT AND ABOUT: Took Metro to the Freer Gallery to see the Hokusai exhibit and it was really great, very well done. The Smithsonian is worth planning a week around, and just being on the national Mall reminded us how much we need to bring the girls up here for a day trip. What a pedestrian-friendly city DC is.

Over & Out

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