Never Look a Gift Horse in the Shaft


Pull up a chair, grab a snack, and get ready to enjoy a true story about our adventures while visiting our own heavenly haven, the Willard Hotel, in Washington, D.C. Our tale features six glasses of Malbec, extreme noise, ants, evening hallway prowls in our pajamas, missing luggage, imaginary gifts, a generous drunk guy in the hotel bar (which may be related to the six Malbecs), and a $40 invisible breakfast.

Before we begin, let me assure you that I know that you know that I know this is not a tale about real problems. I have had a few in my life, and these aren’t those.

We planned a beautiful Easter weekend visiting Son 1, with reservations at our favorite D.C. hotel. Last stay, we had some minor inconveniences, which resulted in a four star, rather than five star TripAdvisor review.

Well, when someone offers to make amends, I take them up on it. I contacted the Willard, and attached said review and the hotel’s response. We were offered an upgrade to a suite. Sweet! The regular rooms we stay in are large and luxurious, so this would be a real treat …

Upon check-in, the person at the front desk was hard-selling our suite, “best views” “wonderful room.” My Spidey senses were activated. We went to said suite, and, well, it was weird. It was a split-level configuration where you walk into the sitting room, then down a few steps to the sleeping area. It was large, and also dark and stark. Who cares, really. They gave us a bottle of wine (Washington State Cab, not some yellow-tailed, barefooty stuff) and a tray of delicious chocolates. Hubs walked down into the sleeping area and noticed a problem. We were not just “next to” the elevator, the bedroom actually wraps around the elevator shaft. It was noisy, but, that’s why God invented noise-cancelling phone apps.

Off to dinner with Son 1, then back “home” for a good night’s sleep after a long travel day. We turn on white noise, snuggle down, and … nope. You know that part in the movie Grease, when Cha Cha is getting ready to drop the flag for the drag race, and Danny and Craterface are revving their engines? Yeah, like that. Hubs calls down to front desk and talks to Mark. He tells us there are only two rooms left, no suites. Sure, we’ll take one. Please note: First time ever in Hags history we have requested a room change.

Sleepus interruptus is not my thing. It’s not as ugly as when I’m hangry, but it does invoke images of wet wasps. I rebelliously decide to stay in my jammies while transferring rooms. I did, however, don supportive undergear, I am not a savage!

Our second room was tiny, and weirdly arranged, with the television on one side of the bed, instead of by the foot, but this did allow Hubs to do his best representation of the old Burt Reynolds centerfold side pose, so there is that. We left the half-eaten chocolate treats in the first room, boo. We remembered to grab the wine, yay! A good night’s sleep was had by all.

The next morning we discussed moving back to a suite, as we were promised, but decided it was too much of a hassle, and we would stay. That is until I got out of the shower and finally put on my glasses. The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! The bathroom was teeming with the little guys. Now, I am a mountain girl, and critters don’t really bother me, but these weren’t  my ants, and I didn’t want them prancing around in my things.

So, we pack up everything again, leaving the luggage on the bed, and go back to the front desk to arrange for yet another room (3). We receive deep apologies from hotel personnel, with assurance that we will get another room, and the hotel will take care of moving our luggage.

A day of more sightseeing, then back to the good old Willard. We have a nice front desk chat with Mark, the guy we spoke to the previous evening, who switched us to the ant room (2). We tell him that the suite (1) we had would be fine if they put the sitting room next to the elevator, instead of the bedroom. He agreed, and said they had talked to engineering about this. So, they know the bedroom is a problem, and give us this suite anyway? I’m sure most suite guests, paying suite prices, would not be happy with this room, so they use it as a giveaway to placate the proletariats?

Anyway, he again apologizes, and wants to send up a bottle of wine to us. He asks our preference; red, white or bubbly. We choose white.

We are given our new room (3), and it is exactly the type of room we booked in the first place, the kind we always stay in; roomy, light, luxurious, wonderful. Except our promised luggage is nowhere to be found. We call down, and they have someone retrieve it from the ant room (2) and bring it up.

Out to dinner and … come back to room (3), no promised wine. No surprise. We did get a fruit bowl and a letter stating they were sorry for our issues, and would take $100 off our bill. Okay, that’s worth more than a bottle of wine. But it bothers me when someone promises something and then doesn’t follow through. I am crazily literal, so if someone says, “I will send you up a bottle of wine,” I think, “Hmm, they are sending up a bottle of wine.”

Or if they say we will be staying in a suite, and the first one wasn’t habitable, they would do everything in their power to give us another suite.

Easter! A full day of brunch, exploring, National Mall walking, people watching, then back to the hotel bar for a drink before dinner. It’s packed with Easter revelers who certainly fully embraced Sunday Funday, including a man who could barely stand, his shirt unbuttoned over his distended belly, tie askew, sweatily offering to buy drinks for everyone. No, thanks. Dinner is at Son 1’s favorite pizza place, then a final, peaceful sleep.

We leave our room Monday morning to check out. I forget to take the note offering the $100 credit with me. Hubs, the irritatingly eternal optimist, says, “We don’t need it, they’ll have it already on our bill.” I laughed and laughed. Well, of course they didn’t, but were quick to subtract the money when we mentioned it. Then we noticed a charge from the bar on Sunday night for six glasses of Malbec, while we were out eating pizza. Now I’m thinking perhaps Disheveled Man was generously buying drinks for all because we were actually buying the drinks. And everyone knows that Son 1 hates Malbec … They removed this charge.

A second scrutiny of the bill found a $40 breakfast charge, which we evidently enjoyed right before going out to brunch with Son 1. This was also removed. The rather flustered front desk agent mumbled something about, “It’s probably because you moved rooms so many times.” Oh, so sorry.

It was quite the escapade, and I frankly don’t really know how to process it all. I love the Willard, but was so shockingly disappointed. I might even give them a three star review on TripAdvisor, an extremely aggressive/negative rating for a Midwesterner like myself.

It also got me thinking. Every good story needs a moral. Perhaps the moral to this story is that upgrades, like fancy hotel suites, bigger houses, pricier sports cars or younger second wives, often turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. Perhaps the known, safe and comfy classic you know and love is really the best choice.


About cherichat

No better way to get to know me than by reading my blog. It is much more the truth than you would see in person.
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