I was nervous about bringing my then-11-month-old daughter to The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. for a four-night stay last December. While it was her seventh time in a hotel and my wife and I have mastered the basics of traveling with an infant (give ‘em what they want so they don’t cry), it was her first visit to luxury hotel, and one that catered towards more of a business clientele no less.
- What if she cried at night and kept awake a person with an early-morning meeting that was critical to world peace?
- Would a trash can full of dirty diapers and spilled Cheerios be out of place at “one of the premier luxury hotels in Washington, DC”?
- What if she developed expensive tastes like her mother?
Our 450-sq.-ft. club deluxe room provided ample space for our daughter to crawl and fall. It probably was a safer environment for her than our house.
In addition to a teddy bear that the manager brought up to our room, a small P.O.L.O. tote (protect our little ones) was left in the crib that we’d requested ahead of time. It included baby lotion and plug covers, for which my wife and I were both glad and hateful.
- Glad: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. was the first hotel we’d visited thoughtful enough to provide plug covers.
- Hateful: My wife and I felt like lousy parents because we’d never thought to bring plug covers to a hotel before either.
So we alleviated our guilt by having a friend with little experience with infants come over and watch our precious sleeping daughter while we went downstairs to enjoy a (complimentary) dinner and drinks at the Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert (we didn’t think the baby monitor would reach from the ninth floor to the first). Don’t feel bad for my daughter though; the next afternoon she ate lunch at the contemporary American restaurant too. And while she’s not quite ready to blog about how her meal tasted to her developing palate, her gusto for more made it clear that she enjoyed the mac and cheese at the Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert better than what’s served at the home kitchen by Mom and Dad.
Now lest the girl get uppity (too late you say?) and expect a meal at one of DC’s chicest restaurants every day, a few weeks before our visit I requested a refrigerator for our room. And while Westend Bistro does specialize in comfort food (try the burger), it does not offer that most soothing of meals—breast milk. We’d called ahead to ask for a fridge in the room before all of our stays at other hotels, but this instance was one of the rare times that one was actually there waiting for us.
And the Ritz-Carlton’s Club Lounge (access was included with our stay), with its breakfast, lunch, and dinner spreads made for an easy and quick way to feed our daughter and ourselves. The club’s attendants were spectacular with accommodating any food requests we had—the yogurt we asked for to go came back not only wrapped in aluminum to make sure it stayed cold but the foil was shaped to look like a bird.
Should you not have a friend in the DC area willing to watch your pride and joy in exchange for a six pack of Miller Lite, the concierge keeps a list of local babysitting services. Guests are required to make arrangements themselves though (likely because DC is so lawyery).
The adjacent Sports Club/LA, however, offers childcare in its For Kids Only secure area for $10 an hour. Any guilt you feel about dropping off your kid here will quickly be replaced by angst when you see the facilities and how much fun your child is having without you there (it’s a lot more impressive than most gym’s childcare areas). While intended for parents who are working out, there’s no reason you can’t deposit your kid here while you park yourself in the club’s Sidewalk Café and tweet over a latte or three (you can’t leave the gym’s facilities though).
Eating lunch in the aforementioned Club Lounge, my daughter started to pull off her sock, most likely so she could cram her foot in her mouth, as is her custom. Seeing this, one of the lounge attendants came over, helped her remove the sock the rest of the way, rolled it up, and tucked it into her diaper bag, stunning both father and daughter. While down there, she also picked up a chunk of cheese from my daughter’s lap and threw it out (normally I would’ve picked it up and eaten it).
Upon returning to Louisville, to reintroduce our daughter to reality, my wife and I promptly checked her in for a three-night stay at the Economy Inn while we returned to our house and made plans to replace our guest room/office with a Club Lounge of our own.
Our then-11-month-old daughter walked for the first time in room 935 of the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. (your child’s results may vary).
And for the adults: A cocktail recipe
Because all hotel reviews should end with a cocktail recipe, here’s one for The Speaker of the House, a specialty drink the Westend Bistro served this New Year’s Eve:
- Add 1 oz. of persimmon puree and three dashes of cinnamon bitters to a champagne flute glass.
- Fill the glass with Prosecco (every glass, of course, should be filled with Prosecco).
Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
1150 22nd St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
We got a special rate at this hotel, but you can get one too: for 1,000 days starting on Jan. 20, 2011, the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. is offering a JFK 50th Anniversary Camelot Package. Starting at $329 a night, it includes deluxe guest room accommodations with valet parking; a copy of the best-selling book Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (with DVD); two tickets to the Newseum with an exclusive brochure highlighting the photos, artifacts, videos and stories that depict JFK’s biggest news-making moments; and a copy of the historic Life magazine, “JFK: The Run for the White House.”
Photo: Zach Everson