For a trip to Washington D.C. with plenty of sight seeing on the itinerary, I was looking for a hotel close to the metro trains at a reasonable price. Shortly before my arrival, I found the Marriott Georgetown at half-price through an Online Travel Agent (OTA) and booked it, despite being an older property undergoing renovation. And while the rooms were what I expected, the service was dismal and reason enough to not stay again anytime at this hotel anytime soon. Read why you shouldn’t stay at this Marriott despite its (now completed) renovation below!
Location: The Marriott Georgetown isn’t in Georgetown and it is beyond me why hotels in the age of Google Maps are still lying about their location. It’s actually located between Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle and both subway stations are a 10 minute walk away. You have access to the Red, Blue, Orange and Silver line, making it easy to get to all over the city by train. I was aware of the location when booking and it worked for my stay. Reagan National airport is about 20 minutes by taxi and 30 by train, Dulles airport is about 45 minutes by taxi and 1h30min by train.
Room: I knew that the hotel was undergoing renovation, with the lobby already completed – but my room was not. It was in the standard Marriott decor from the nineties/early 2000s and was well worn. The carpet was in gold/red and the wood furniture dark brown. The king-size bed was comfortable and there was a single red chair as well as a work desk with a wobbly red task chair. The room was equipped with a small flat-screen TV and the standard Marriott TV/AV panel. The outlets next to the bed were not working.
The bathroom was the old-fashioned motel setup with the sink-in-countertop near the door, facing the closet. The shower-over-tub combination with a curtain and toilet were in the actual bathroom with a door. While this might be practical for families, I don’t like this set-up and prefer the sink to be in the bathroom proper. It was generally clean, although the shower head was loose.
I had requested a quiet room and my assigned room was on a low floor, overlooking a busy intersection, probably one of the noisiest in the property. It also lacked a safe, something I expect at any mid- or up-scale hotel, that is important to me for security and that was listed on the website as a feature of any room.
This started the service saga you can read below, which resulted in a different room assignment. My second room was facing the same street, same level, but did have a safe as well as a small fridge. The room was in a similar condition as the previous one. The entrance door was jammed, requiring a strong push to open or close. While that is not a big deal in an older hotel in itself, it becomes a safety issue when housekeeping didn’t close the door properly one day, leaving my room open to anybody and my property exposed to theft.
Update: Since my stay, the renovation of the Marriott Not-Georgetown has been completed and all rooms now have a much more modern and stylish look – the below photos are from the Marriott website and are in line with the new brand decor:
The renovation also included the bathrooms – which desperately needed an update as well:
Service/Rewards: The service at the Marriott Not-Georgetown was absolutely dismal, some of the worst I have seen in years. While I understand that each hotel has a few not-so-great staff and we all have bad days, the service issues at the Marriott were systemic and included the management team.
The check-in went quickly, but despite being Marriott Rewards Gold, I was not offered an upgrade or lounge access. After inquiring about the lounge, I was given access and information. While I don’t expect an upgrade, I do expect staff to make an effort to find a room matching my preferences – and I consider assigning the noisiest room when I ask for a quiet one pretty poor service. I’m also used to have guaranteed benefits being offered and explained, not being grudgingly granted after asking about them. But all of this is pretty average for US hotels – unfortunately, it did go down hill after this.
When I called immediately after check-in to inquire about the lack of safe in my room, the front desk told me that none of the rooms at the hotel have a safe! When I verified twice, she said she’d have housekeeping deliver one to my room. I was flabbergasted – both by the fact that no rooms at the hotel would have a safe and the suggestion to deliver one.
After waiting for 1h, no safe had shown up and I had to leave for an appointment. When I checked at the front desk, the agents were busy with other guests and a manager was doing paperwork. I approached her, told her about the safe situation, and she looked at me startled, saying that of course they have rooms with saves and her staff will assign one for me. Because I couldn’t wait any longer, I asked to have a new room assigned and to notify me, so I can move as soon as it was ready. On my return, nothing had been done and I took it up again on the next day. Now, the front desk agent did what should have happened at my first request, she checked the system and assigned a room with safe within 60 seconds. While it was still a noisy, standard room, it did address my main issue!
Housekeeping did a thorough job cleaning my room each day. Unfortunately, she left the room door open after cleaning the first day, leaving my property exposed to theft! After I told her in person to be more careful, it didn’t happen again. My request to have the door fixed went unanswered.
Any hotel can do well when things go smoothly – It is terrible customer service in my book when staff lies to guests to make them go away, rather than taking an easy 60 second action to actually solve the problem for the guest. It’s even worse when management doesn’t address an escalation at all, apparently still hoping that the problem goes away by itself.
I also understand when a hotel already undergoing renovation doesn’t want to fix a broken door – but then they should take the room out of inventory until it’s reonvated, or at least make a temporary fix, so the door closes properly. Not addressing a security issue at all on a 6 night stay I consider unresponsive!
A completely different experience was the staff at the lounge – she was a ray of sunshine, welcomed each guest personally and inquired about their day. She even remembered people’s favorites – a feat considering how busy the lounge was each day.
It was the first time in over 20 years that I actually wrote a letter to Marriott Corporate to address the issues. They did forward it to the hotel and I was given 25,000 points, reflective of a 10% discount of the reward rate. I consider that a fair compensation for the issues encountered!
Restaurant/Amenities: The Marriott has a very nice lounge and bar – recently renovated, modern, even stylish and very inviting to have a coffee or drink, but I didn’t try it.
The Marriott has a small fitness room with a few treadmills, a cross-trainer and minimal free weights – good enough for a cardio workout, but not a full workout.
The Marriott Not-Georgetown has a club lounge that is available for Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum members or at a fee. It is way too small for the size of the hotel and the number of elite or paying guests: it was so crowded that it was difficult to find a seat, with some guests having their breakfast standing! The lounge offered a continental breakfast with fruit, juices, coffee/tea and pastries, as well as eggs and meat. Despite the crowds, I enjoyed the visit courtesy of the fantastic staff, and went early to find a seat before the crowds arrived.
Bottomline: I had booked my stay through the Marriott website, but cancelled and rebooked through an OTA when I found a rate 50% lower! I don’t trust Best-Rate-Guarantees and was disappointed at this kind of discrepancy – that’s why I always recommend to check my favorite hotel search engines before booking!
At a price of only $90/night, even the old rooms are good value for the category of hotel and location in high season. What is not acceptable even at this price though is the poor service. And unfortunately, the renovation won’t fix that. The service issues stem from the top, with inaccurate hotel descriptions on the web site, poorly managed rates, poorly handled elite benefits and terrible issue resolution all reflective of management issues, not individual staff issues. It took the involvement of Marriott Corporate to address the issue – and it would require a replacement of the management team to turn this hotel around. That’s why I won’t be staying at the (now renovated) Marriott Not-Georgetown anytime soon and won’t recommend it to you either. There are so many hotels in Washington D.C., including other Marriott properties, that there is no reason to put up with this kind of service and only speaking with your wallet will make a difference!