Hilton@Play in legendary International Ballroom Washington Hilton

In January 2015, Hilton Worldwide signed a 5-year partnership with Live Nation, a leading provider of live music concert entertainment in the USA. Hilton launched the partnership with its ‘Hilton at Play’ campaign.

Friday and Saturday I was in Washington, D.C. staying at the Washington Hilton hotel, courtesy of Hilton. They sponsored a few bloggers to fly out, take a tour of the hotel, lunch with members of the HHonors loyalty team and stay for a Saturday night Hilton@Play Neon Trees concert in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton.


International Ballroom Washington Hilton

During the Washington Hilton guided hotel tour Scott Mackenzie, Brian Cohen and I had an amazing view of the fully open International Ballroom with its kind of 60s French modern-Star Trek roof style. Colored lighting illuminated different areas of the ceiling in brilliant colors around the large ballroom during the minutes we were standing on the 48-ft. hydraulic stage, apparently for lighting tests. Workers were setting up for the evening’s formal ball that night. International Ballroom holds 4,000+ people in an open space room.

There was a psychedelic element to the ballroom space’s architecture and colored lights. Jimi Hendrix played to a crowd of 4,000 in the same pillar-less Washington Hilton International Ballroom, the largest in the city at the time the hotel opened in 1965 and still in high demand today.

I came across this descriptive paragraph of rock music history from ‘Jimi Hendrix in D.C.’ by Patrick Kiger on Boundary Stones, a WETA blog.

On March 10, 1968, Hendrix and the Experience returned to D.C., to play two shows at the Washington Hilton’s International Ballroom. The Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland, who reviewed the show, noted that the standing-room-only crowd of 4,000 seemed a bit disappointed that Hendrix didn’t pour lighter fluid on his guitar and burn it, a signature gesture he had performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Even so, Hoagland wrote, Hendrix put on a highly charged performance, exciting the audience with “his wildly sexual gyrations” and technique of “erotically stroking his guitar and grinding it against himself.” Hoagland opined that although Hendrix, in his view, was a “fine guitarist,” his real appeal was as an “anti-suburb, anti-establishment” figure. “He is bad, and teenagers love him for it,” he wrote. “He is more evil than Elvis ever dreamed of being, and the teenagers know that it infuriates their parents.”

Jimi Hendrix in D.C. by Patrick Kiger (Nov 4, 2013)

March 10, 1968 – What a week to be in D.C.

The Doors played the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton on November 25, 1967. What a week to be in D.C.

Stephen Colbert was featured entertainer of the April 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton International ballroom. His performance had President Bush looking like he wanted Colbert’s next performance booked for Guantanamo Bay. What a week to be in D.C.

Neon Trees played a portion of the International Ballroom on Saturday December 5, 2015.

Hilton International Ballroom

It looked to me like the walls closed off about one-third of the full ballroom space for the Neon TreesElliot Root concert.

Neon Trees sign

Not really knowing what to expect at the concert, I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of free food and drink offered from 7:00pm, for the hour before the 8:00pm ballroom opening for the concert.

Hilton reception food-1

Hilton Reception food-2

There was drink too. Those lines were going 10 to 20+ deep by 7:30pm. My tip would be to separate the hard alcohol from the beer and wine. Mixing drinks really stalled the line progress.

Hilton Reception food-3

Hot noodle dishes with your own take-away carry box at Hilton Washington pre-concert reception.

Expecting the start of the show to be the end of free drinks and I had only seen Stella twice, I was pleasantly surprised to find two bars in the ballroom concert venue space. A while later I learned the bars remained open upstairs throughout the show.  In the spirit of International Ballroom friendship, my Flemish mistress Stella Artois and I stuck together for the party most of the night, while hanging with bloggers and friends.

The end of the evening included tables of desserts, coffee and bottles of water. Then to top off the night, there was a table with staff in the ballroom foyer giving out $25 Hilton HHonors Business gift cards as they cut off your concert wristband.

I had grabbed two packages of DoubleTree cookies and ate one while walking the 187 steps from the elevator to my room before passing out at midnight in a comfortable king bed with soft pillows on the 6th floor of the Washington Hilton.

The second pack of cookies I remembered last night were still in my bag. In our household with virtually no sugar, I savored sweet memories of my fun evening with Hilton @Play in the legendary Washington Hilton International Ballroom.

30,000 HHonors points for this show

The price for two persons to attend the Hilton@Play Neon Trees event was 30,000 HHonors points. I attended at no cost, courtesy of Hilton. For this particular event, I thought the food and drink for two seemed like a good value deal for 30,000 points, if you don’t want to save your points for a hotel room.

Neon Trees

Neon Trees-3

You can currently get two tickets for Of Monsters and Men in St. Louis on December 17 for 30,000 HHonors points.

If you attend Of Monsters and Men or another Hilton @Play event, please leave a comment to share what the food and drink reception was like for your experience. That aspect of the event was quite the deal at the Washington Hilton.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »