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During our most recent visit to our nation’s capital city, we had the opportunity to check out the Hyatt Place in Arlington, VA. This was actually our first time staying at a Hyatt, so we were definitely excited. But this trip was about much more than just a stay at a Hyatt hotel, it was about experiencing American culture and history. What better place to accomplish this is there than Washington D.C.?
Arlington, VA is a modern city with character. It’s close enough to D.C. to have a good public transportation system, but traffic isn’t as crazy as it is in the big city. Also, it’s in Virginia where taxes are fairly low, making hotel stays bearable. Make sure to see the Arlington National Cemetery while you’re in the D.C. area and don’t miss the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there. Depending on the season, it’s either on the hour or every 30 minutes. It’s one of the most amazing ceremonies you’ll have ever laid eyes on, I promise.
The Hyatt Place Arlington/Courthouse is centrally located, keeping Uber/Lyft rides to any sightseeing spots in the area to $10 or below. The hotel itself offers modern and spacious rooms, a business center, complimentary breakfast, a cocktail/coffee bar (offering Starbucks drinks) and valet parking. Unfortunately, that is also the only parking available and overnight rates are $30. We traveled by car and stayed 3 nights, so we had to plan for that in our budget. The room itself was 12,000 points a night, which wasn’t the greatest use of my Ultimate Rewards points because the cash price was around $120 a night, including tax. But we traveled with another party who didn’t pay with points, so we considered the cash price as well when booking the rooms. When paying the cash price, make sure to use a credit card that earns bonus points on travel, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns you 3x points in that category. You’ll also earn 3x points at Hyatt properties with the Hyatt Visa card by Chase, but since Hyatt is also a transfer partner in the Ultimate Rewards program, it makes more sense earning the same amount of Ultimate Rewards points and have more flexibility, especially if you’re not exclusive to Hyatt when it comes to hotel stays.
Overall, our experience at the hotel was great. We had an amazing room with a nice view of the city and the breakfast buffet was also very good. But our stay wasn’t perfect. Our first set of towels smelled like they had been washed in pool water (they had a heavy chlorine odor) and we were confronted by a less than pleasant attendant at the breakfast buffet our first day there. Fortunately, the towels were replaced and the new ones didn’t have that smell, and a brief remark at the front desk about our experience during breakfast was enough to receive a personal apology from the manager as well as from the person causing the trouble in the first place. We also received some vouchers for the coffee bar. I don’t hold grudges, and they had me at free coffee. It was plainly obvious that the staff took the incident seriously, which was all I wanted to see. Good job Hyatt; everyone makes mistakes, you handled yours well!
The city of Washington D.C. is one of my favorite places to visit because, for one, it’s within driving distance for me, and also because there’s just so much to see and to do. The Metro prices aren’t the cheapest, but can make sense if you’re traveling solo or in a small party. Otherwise, stick to Uber or Lyft, because at just over 60 square miles, the city isn’t the largest by far, so you probably won’t pay much more than $10-15 per fare.
Some of the must-see places are the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the World War II memorial, Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Capitol and of course the White House. But there are dozens more monuments and museums to see, most of them for free. We toured the Library of Congress, which is the world’s largest library, and were simply stunned. I, personally, cannot visit Washington D.C. without going to the Korean War memorial. The amount of detail that went into it is breathtakingly beautiful.
As with most major cities, it is generally a good idea to bring some cash along. During much of your tour of the city, you’ll be limited to street vendors for snacks and drinks, unless you bring your own of course. Many of these vendors, unfortunately, do not accept any sort of plastic or mobile payments, but only cash instead. Also, when traveling by car, there is free parking on Sundays, citywide. But traffic can get pretty nasty in D.C. so public transportation is generally a good idea, especially for tourists.
Have you been to Washington D.C.? What was your favorite site to see?