28 hours since I had been horizontal on a bed and nearly five years since my last visit to Washington D.C. when I walked into the Washington Hilton hotel at 11am Friday morning. Never stayed in a hotel in this neighborhood before.
Washington Hilton was designed as a convention hotel when it opened in 1965, north of Dupont Circle and on the southern edge of Adams Morgan district, one block north from where Connecticut Avenue and Florida Avenue intersect. The hotel is situated on a high point in the city with a slight downhill to the National Mall two miles south. The curvilinear shape of the hotel means most rooms at the Washington Hilton are rooms with a view.
My hotel stay was part of a Hilton sponsored trip to D.C.
Hilton invited me to D.C. for a three-night stay, hotel tour, lunch with HHonors staff and admission to the Hilton@Play Neon Trees live concert in the International Ballroom Saturday, December 5, 2015. Hotel room, flight and concert were complimentary.
Washington Hilton seen from T Street, the 100 meter road connecting Connecticut Avenue and Florida Avenue. The 10-story curvilinear forms of the hotel are wings offering views from every room of the Washington Hilton Hotel. The car port area of the T Street entrance for the International Ballroom is seen in this photo.
Loyalty Traveler – Hilton@Play in legendary International Ballroom Washington Hilton (Dec 8)
Some locals refer to this hotel as the ‘Hinckley Hilton’ for its infamous history of the Ronald Reagan presidential assassination attempt in 1981.
There is a plaque on the wall outside the T Street hotel entrance.
National Historic Place
On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan marked the 100th visit to the Washington Hilton by a sitting U.S. President. Reagan had been invited to speak in the International Ballroom at a meeting of the North America’s Building Trades Unions. Upon exiting the hotel along T Street at 2:27 p.m., Reagan was struck and wounded by a gunshot fired from John Hinckley, Jr., who had been waiting outside. Gunshots also wounded Reagan’s Press Secretary James Brady, D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Reagan recovered from the incident and visited the hotel several times afterwards.
Washington Hilton is a major event hotel for D.C.
Washington Hilton was built as a full-function hotel convention complex with the International Ballroom serving as one of the leading event locations in D.C. The ballroom’s unique design offers an open space ballroom capable of holding 4,000 guests. Today the International ballroom is the largest open space events room in D.C. and the hotel caters many events with about ten Presidential functions each year. There was a military ball on Friday night and a Hilton@Play live concert event on Saturday night that I was invited to attend on this Hilton sponsored trip.
I noticed the hotel website does not advertise its immense size with 1,070 hotel rooms.
The flags in front of the hotel were half-staff due to the San Bernardino, California terror attack three days earlier.
Bars and restaurants are fairly abundant for nightlife within ten minutes walk of the Washington Hilton hotel.
Washington Hilton is large building in center of Google maps satellite photo.
The area around Washington Hilton is more residential than the dozen or so Washington D.C. hotels where I have stayed before. Most D.C. hotels are located farther south, closer to the National Mall by the Capitol, or Georgetown to the southwest, or the Convention Center to the southeast.
Washington Hilton room view from 6th floor of Adams Morgan residential neighborhood in Washington D.C.
eStandby Upgrade room selection at Washington Hilton
The room size stated 200 sq. ft. for my reservation booked by the PR agency for this event. I was given the opportunity to book an eStandby Upgrade request for my reservation. Since this was a 3-night stay and the email from the PR firm stated I would be given a $200 American Express card for expenses, I decided to request an eStandby Upgrade for a larger room. I had no status with Hilton HHonors at the time of the request, although I have since been upgraded to HHonors Diamond elite through their current status match offer.
Loyalty Traveler – Hilton HHonors elite status match email ping pong (Dec 7, 2015).
I requested the King Bed Studio Executive Floor for an extra $34 per night. At check-in I received an upgraded room, however, there was no mention of 10th floor Executive Floor lounge access.
Room 6165 was almost the last room at the end of the hall on the 6th floor.
The room was an upside down L-shape configuration with the closet and bathroom on the short end of the L and the bedroom on the long end. The bed was very comfortable with nice soft pillows. The bathroom only offered a shower.
Everything in the room worked fine.
This hotel is huge and after several walks to the elevator during my stay, I counted my steps to learn my room was 187 steps from the main floor elevators. I got a workout going to my room.
Washington Hilton Tour
The elevators go down to the Lobby and the Terrace level with the ballroom.
The ballroom is one level below the Terrace level. This is where the Neon Trees concert happened Saturday Dec. 5.
The hotel tour took us outside to the high security car port built after the Reagan assassination attempt. This is where the Presidential car arrives and metal gates are lowered. A thick metal door provides access to the President’s special passageway for entering the Washington Hotel when attending ballroom events. Washington Hilton holds about ten events each year attended by the President.
No photographs were allowed in the hotel’s Presidential passage. I knocked on the metal door and it felt like a bank vault. The walls are hard concrete. Nice carpet and curving stairways and a special elevator. There are waiting rooms with fine furniture and bathrooms to hold the Presidential party until it is time to enter the ballroom. There is the Presidential seal in marble under the carpet.
The hallway leading to the International Ballroom is lined with photos and drawings of every President and their wives/escorts since Presdient george Washington.
Washington Hilton Restaurants
The TDL breakfast buffet was something like $25 and I did not think I would eat much for breakfast. I ordered a vegetable frittata dish with potatoes. A light meal that was just right for my appetite. The bill was $20 with taxes and tip.
The TDL breakfast was my only meal at the hotel. On Sunday morning, Brian Cohen of The Gate picked me up on the 6th floor and took me to the key-accessed 10th floor and into the hotel lounge for breakfast. The view was nice in the top floor lounge, but I liked my room view better with all the neighboring buildings lower height than the hotel. The food selection was much better in the TDL restaurant buffet.
Scott Mackenzie of Travel Codex and I had dinner Friday night at the nearby Lauriol Plaza Mexican food restaurant and he mentioned that he thought dining at the hotel restaurants would be picked up by Hilton on the master bill. Since I did not have lounge access at the hotel, I ate breakfast in The District Line on Saturday morning. Scott was correct with this travel hack and my room upgrade and restaurant meal were not charged to me. Thanks Hilton.
Washington Hilton McClellan’s Sports bar restaurant.
The hotel has a pool and fitness room on the second floor. I never made it there. Going back and forth to my room and walking to the National Zoo and the National Mall were my fitness activities for the weekend.
Washington Hilton is 40,000 HHonors points per night for reward night stays through February 2016. There are 12 hotels in Washington D.C. with three at 40,000 points and nine at 50,000 points rates. The Washington Hilton location is good for walking to the National Zoo in 20 minutes or to Lincoln Memorial in 40 minutes. Metro is 0.6 miles to Dupont Circle and about a 12 minute walk from Washington Hilton.