New Year’s Eve in a Park Hyatt DC Ambassador Suite

Earlier this fall a deal popped up at the Park Hyatt DC with the Ambassador Suite pricing out at the basic room rate. Now the Park Hyatt is hands down my favorite hotel in DC — I like the decor, the rooms, and most of all the attentive, consistent service. So when I saw the deal was available for New Year’s Eve, I jumped on it.

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s Eve party person. I’ve done the rounds of restaurant reservations or upscale bar cover charges and I’ve just never found the experience worth the cost. I’ve also done the quiet evening at home with friends and found I usually struggle to stay awake until midnight. So a couple of years ago when looking for a way to use a Hyatt Faster Free Nights cert, I hit on great compromise. Stay at a hotel where I have status and invite a few close friends to join me there.

The first year was the Park Hyatt DC, the second at the Willard — that was a disaster that once again illustrated the declining value of Royal Ambassador status, last year the Deluxe Suite in the Conrad Bangkok.

So this year I’d be returning to the Park Hyatt DC in style. Not only with a paid reservation for the Ambassador Suite, but also with Diamond status thanks to the StarMegaDo4. This led me to have unlikely but fervent hopes that I would be upgraded to the Presidential Suite which features two bedrooms and a baby grand piano. (A girl can dream, right?)

One of the less exciting things about the Park Hyatt DC though is the location. It’s in Foggy Bottom about 5 blocks  from the Metro with extremely limited, and expensive, parking options. It was a cold day so I didn’t want to have to walk that far with luggage, especially with rain in the forecast for New Year’s Day. And a cab to and from my apartment would run about the same as the $41.50 + tax valet parking.  The compromise was for my friend and me to metro and then catch a cab for the 5 blocks.

Then I thought to look up the street parking restrictions for the area. If you won’t be arriving at the hotel until 4:30PM on a Saturday night or holiday eve, there’s a really inexpensive option. The streets around the hotel are 2 hr meters until 6:30PM with free parking on holidays and Sundays. Due to the proximity to GWU, parking can be hard to find later in the evening, but if you can show up between 4:30-6:30PM and pay for an hour or two ($2-$4) you’re all set!

And that’s exactly what we did! It was only a short 1 block walk to the hotel and we presented ourselves at the check desk around 4:40. Only to discover our room wasn’t ready. And that it was definitely the Ambassador Suite and not the Presidential. (But I am a Diamond Guest…!?)

The man checking us in could not have been nicer. We decided to grab a drink in the lounge while we waited. He grabbed our luggage and promised to come find us when the room was ready.

15 minutes later, and barely a few sips into our excellent glasses of Cotes du Rhone and Malbec, he was there to hand us our keys and let us know our luggage would be waiting us in the room. We stayed another 20 minutes in the lounge finishing our wine and watching black tie folks starting to congregate before heading up to check out the room.

Our room, 1024, was immediately off the elevator and it was pretty cool to walk up to those glossy black double doors. Walking in was quite the experience. The suite was furnished a little differently than the previous suites I’d stayed had there.

The predominant theme was wood paneled walls and floors. The rooms ran along the front of the hotel (almost a shotgun house style). You walked in and there was a half bath immediately off the foyer. A long, glass walled living room was the first room, featuring a 20 ft couch with tables that doubled as dining room and an apple sculpture I was unreasonably taken with.

At the far end of the living room was an alcove with a sink and the beverage center. Also — which I appreciated having access to throughout the night — extra plates, silverware, and napkins. It was a little bit confusing though because there were 6 decorative (yet drinkable) bottles of wine that weren’t listed on mini bar price sheet. They couldn’t all be free, but one of them looked like it might be complimentary?

But anyway, to the right of the living room was the den/desk area with a half wall adjoining the bedroom. The bedroom itself was fine (although I’d like to see more options for double bed suites), although a little smaller than other rooms/suites I’d experienced there. Probably because with 1,200 sq ft, you don’t really need lots of extra space in that room. :)

But the highlight of the whole suite, and in my opinion, in any room/suite at this hotel, was the bathroom. The whole thing is marble and wood, with dual sinks and a large closet/dressing area at one end. I really like that the toilet is a separate room. And then the shower area…

A giant waterfall shower connected to a carved travertine tub which has a waterfall option of it’s own that falls directly on the shoulders.

Once we’d settled in and unpacked our champagne and snacks, we decided we’d also like to take the beverage & food Diamond amenity instead of points and they promised to have it delivered within the hour.

And Lukas, the head of food and beverage, showed up within the allotted time to deliver our apple pie and half bottle of local wine. He was even kind enough to take group pictures for us with the friends who had stopped by. A few hours later housekeeping stopped by to replace our towels, remove any used glasses or plates, and drop off some dark chocolate cherry bark from the Blue Duck Tavern.

Later that evening we decided to also sample the chocolate cake (quite good!) and cut some of the sweet with a heartier ham and cheese sandwich (also good).

The server who brought our food presented us with a bill telling us that gratuity was already included and no signature was needed. A nice touch that immediately allays any uncertainty!

The next morning, we rode down in the elevator with some friendly players from the Dallas Mavericks and headed to the Blue Duck Tavern to enjoy the Diamond breakfast amenity (which I think is one of the main perks of staying at the Park Hyatt). There I got a little confused though because they were serving breakfast in the main restaurant and not the lounge as they had in the past. If you’re coming from your room, there’s no clear way to get to the main restaurant except through a prep area filled with servers (that’s apparently the way to go).

As Diamond guests we could have the American Breakfast or the monetary equivalent ($32). I went with the American Breakfast which was a little different than past stays as it now included your choice from their list of eggs and specialties which had expanded and improved.

I was torn between the shortrib hash or eggs benedict with pork belly, finally deciding on the hash.

It was amazing! As was getting a choice of sides (I picked melt-in-your-mouth bacon), a choice of 3 pastries or toast, and a pot of tea. And shamefully, I ate almost all of it!

My friend was more modest in her breakfast ambitions, choosing the blueberry pancakes, a side of biscuit, and a pot of hot chocolate.

As we were finishing, our server stopped by to tell use we were all taken care of and no signature was needed.

It was an amazing way to start the year and I have only three major criticisms of the hotel:

  1. The internet is terrible. If you need the internet to get work done, it will be nearly impossible. The wi-fi was terribly slow and intermittent and the ethernet doesn’t work at all. I was pretty surprised, but fortunately didn’t need much internet during my one night stay.
  2. The shower/tub area is more beautiful than functional. That gorgeous carved travertine is COLD. No matter how much hot water you put in the tub, within 5 minutes you’re going to start to feel chilly if you don’t keep the water running. And the marble shower is also chilly if you step too far outside of the water. The most distressing thing for me was how using either for too long risks flooding over the tiny marble sill and into the rest of the bathroom, so you’re always a little anxious about how long you’re taking.
  3. The proximity to the nearby hospital. They can’t do anything about this, but you’ll constantly hear sirens throughout the night. Not enough to wake you, but you’ll be aware of it.

All that said, the Park Hyatt is still my favorite hotel in DC and I think a great representation of Hyatt customer service. I’ve stayed there many times on many different rates and I’ve never felt a difference in their treatment :)

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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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