Luxury Family Travel to Washington DC
The Ritz-Carlton philosophy is about opulence and excess, and that rings true with the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City. If you’re a defense contractor looking to be near the Pentagon, you can wait for your appointment in the lobby while browsing through coffee table books on the military. But if you are traveling with kids, you came to the right place, too. When business travel slows down the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City offers everything it can to make it a family friendly hotel in the Washington DC area.
The lobby probably once looked like a traditional southern Ritz-Carlton but has been given the sleeker modern makeover many of the properties are getting. We watched the hotel’s stylists arrive and adorn the lobby with beautiful holiday decorations before our eyes, with a giant glass bubble display that made me think of shrinking inside of flute of champagne, which is offered at check-in. And a cocoa bar offers not your standard brownie square or chocolate chip cookie but individually wrapped and beautifully decorated cookies. Honestly, this hotel’s specialty is clearly simple carbohydrates.
Ritz Kids Check-in at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
Every property has its own Ritz kids check-in. The Pentagon City property has a painted child-sized table next to registration where children filled out information on their likes and dislikes. The hotel took them (to customize the experience more or for the recycling bin?), and then front desk manager Dwayne offered my kids a hotel scavenger hunt. I am a big fan of these at hotels, as it is a nice flow to get acquainted with the property for adults and kids. My children were delighted when they discovered a prize was waiting for them upon completion. My daughter, armed with her pen, led the way as they met with the Bellman and counted the bell carts, find an ATM in business center, and request a metro map from the concierge.
The staff and lobby are smaller at this property, and everyone learned our kids’ names quickly, another element I notice in my Ritz-Carlton stays. When they submitted their completed scavenger hunts the concierge presented them with stuffed Ritz-Carlton Lion nylon backpacks filled with snacks, water, and crayons.
Family Comfort at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
Our suite had beautiful views of the Pentagon, the Potomac River, and the monuments on the Mall. I’m sure the rooms will get a renovation in the future with a more updated look but we found our suite with traditional masculine golds and reproduction antique furniture to be incredibly comfortable and very spacious for a family, with one and a half bathrooms and exceptional closet space.
Our welcome was thoughtfully arranged with fresh flowers, sparkling water, charcuterie and cheese, but the crowd pleaser was the decorate your own cookie activity waiting for my kids. My youngest was not so subtle with the red and blue frosting.
Combining this lovely welcome with the scavenger hunt activity, we really felt a personalized welcome that one couldn’t get so easily at a bigger hotel. I’m good with names, but rarely could I tell you the name of the concierge, bellman, and front desk manager the first few hours after checking into a place. It’s that more personalized feeling that would absolutely make me want to return.
Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
My daughter and I have a tradition of a girls-only tea, so my husband took my son to the adjacent Fashion Mall is attached to the hotel to get a haircut. We enjoyed an afternoon tea in the Fyve lounge with Elizabeth as our server. She offered my daughter a variety of beverages and brought her hot chocolate and guided me with the teas. After each course she was insistent on asking what we liked so she could provide second servings of that item. My daughter and I noticed that all of the other diners were letting out squeals of delight as Elizabeth kept bringing additional plates of the tables’ favorites. It was Elizabeth’s mission to make this afternoon tea experience a memorable one.
I was impressed that the majority of the pastries were gluten-free, and—since my husband follows a gluten-free diet and I am familiar how other flours usually taste in breads and baked goods—many of them shocked me. Nothing tasted gluten-free in a good way. Elizabeth brought a surprise Shirley Temple in a flute with my champagne so that my daughter and I could have a toast. It was an excellent experience where the personal service made up for the simple surroundings. I love the majestic Palm Court tea at the Plaza in New York, but they could serve cucumber sandwiches on cardboard, and no one would complain. The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City tea focuses on its strengths: excellent food and service.
The Club Lounge
Club lounges for the Ritz-Carlton vary according to each property. I’ve been to more formal club lounges with more intricately prepared and sophisticated food then the Pentagon City lounge, but it still never felt like cubed cheese, Triscuits and Ritz crackers The desserts made by the hotel’s pastry chef at night were beautifully done. Lunches were quite simple: sandwiches, soups and a few prepared salads. The best meal was breakfast: breakfast meats and frittatas, a dried fruit and nut bar paired with oatmeal and cereals. I was impressed to see chia and flax seeds in the mix. In addition to fruits, meats, and cheeses, a phenomenal coffee machine that made excellent lattes is what I remember most fondly.
Family Events at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
Offering more than a place to sleep in between iconic sightseeing that Washington DC offers, the Ritz-Carlton plans many in-house events for families during peak vacation and holiday times that make it feel like a city resort. We stayed over Thanksgiving weekend and was delighted to see a meeting space converted into a family movie theater and with two Xbox stations. We saw that they were screening Frozen to which my four-year-old was delighted and my 10-year-old rolled her eyes (even though she was the first to remember that it was starting at 7 PM suggested we go check it out).
With blue and purple lights illuminating the corners of the room to feel like a Frozen-themed party, the room’s real star for any child was it’s server yourself concession stand. Behind the popcorn machine was a candy bar ready to beat any trick-or-treating experiences: mini Twix, mini snickers, jellybeans, M & M’s— peanut and regular. It was all there with a cooler filled with lemonade of which my son kept saying “This water’s tasty!”
Charles, the food and beverage assistant manager, prepared popcorn and delivered fresh bags to all of the guests seated in the room. It was getting late we waited until my four-year-old could sing “Let it Go” along with the film, and then we retreated to the room to change into swimsuits.
The Pool at Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
The swimming pool is a long skinny rectangle adjacent to the fitness center, and although my daughter said the water was warm, my husband definitely didn’t.
There are many advantages to staying outside of DC in Virginia. The first is undoubtedly the better value for a family suite. But a Virginia address (and Maryland) requires hotel pools to be staffed by lifeguards. I was startled as we entered the pool to see a uniformed lifeguard ready to protect my children in the hotel health club’s waters. She found them goggles, noodles, and a swim vest and made our quick after dinner swim as perfect as possible.
Dining at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
We had dinner at Fyve and what really stood out to me is how accommodating the kitchen was to helping me feed my children a healthy meal. I asked them if they had my fantasy crudité plate to fill my children with sliced red pepper, and it arrived with flair. My own halibut was even more beautiful.
On our last rainy morning we decided to stay in our room in our pajamas instead of heading to the club lounge where we’ve been enjoying breakfasts and afternoon treats. My children were delighted to receive Rudolph pancakes covered and berries and my egg white omelet it was excellent.
Choosing which Ritz Carlton in the DC area
There are several Ritz-Carlton properties in the Washington DC area, with two inside the District in Georgetown and on 22nd Street. Nothing about the Pentagon City location felt like a sacrifice. If you plan on driving to Washington for a family trip you can’t beat the fact that the parking rates will be less in Virginia than they would be in the District.
The metro stop is literally out the front door of the hotel which we planned to use on our day of sightseeing, but in the end we had a tired child and decided to spend for a taxi to the Lincoln Memorial. Both taxi rides were under $20 including tip and less than 15 minutes.
The service at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon city was outstanding. Our interaction with everyone in the lobby was incredibly personal. With the smaller hotel, the staff really remembered us everywhere we went. The Bellman, the concierge, the manager, the front desk assistant, the wait staff, and the restaurant hostess all knew our children’s names.
I can’t find any significant flaw in our stay. Everything was exceptional and comfortable, and my children and my husband looked a little sad as we had to pack up and leave on our departure day. The rooms aren’t as richly appointed as the five-star city hotels, but I’m really searching for anything non-glowing. It’s an outstanding hotel for families offering the luxury of excellent service.
We were guests of the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.