How to Put Absolutely No Thought into a Hotel Renovation

I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Arlington in Rosslyn, across the river from DC, several times. The property has finally been converted to the Hyatt Centric Arlington. The public space in the lobby, which is somewhat small, has been redone. The front desk has been made a bit more interesting.

I had an expiring Diamond Suite Upgrade. Those can no longer be used prior to end of February expiration to confirm travel in the future. Stays must be complete by end of February. So once I confirmed that all the rooms in the hotel had been renovated as part of the rebrand, including the suites, I decided to burn one on this three night stay.

The room is nice enough, a bit trendier in decor than the tired stuff that came before, but it remains too dark especially the living room.

They’ve updated the room but done nothing to expand access to outlets. There’s one free outlet next to the desk. The lamps in the rooms before the renovation had plugs, but this one does not (although there’s outlets in the headboard in the bedroom which is new, but a dresser only on one side so the other side’s outlets are useless unless you want your electronics on the floor.)

There’s no trash can under the sink in the bathroom. There’s a random table in the entryway that’s completely out of place. There’s no light at the desk.

Here’s an easy way to tell a “renovation on the cheap” — the counter tops in the bathroom haven’t been changed.

Since it’s no longer a generic “Hyatt” (contrary to the understanding of many, it wasn’t actually a Regency before), gone are the Dr. Kenet MD bath amenities. But pretty much everything about the hotel, the phones and the room service menu, are the same.

For those interested the Hyatt Centric Arlington has no club lounge. Diamonds receive the modest breakfast buffet, or they can use their breakfast coupons at the hotel’s coffee stand off the lobby. Rooms on the 15th and 16th floors receive two bottles of water daily. The suites are supposed to also, but there was no water in my room nor any two hours after I asked for some. I had to ask again, and again on the second night. And again on the third.

Incidentally I experienced something new from housekeeping, I hadn’t had happen before. I ordered room service, then quickly left the room. I don’t like just putting my tray in the hall, I always call, but I was in a rush and failed to do it. The tray was sitting on a table next to the couch. Housekeeping serviced the room, just left the used tray in place. I’ve seen in larger cities where housekeeping just puts the tray outside the door (I assume union rules mean it’s someone else’s job). But I’ve never seen housekeeping just leave the dirty tray.

Ultimately I found the decor at the Hyatt Centric Arlington marginally nicer. The redesign didn’t seem to be especially thoughtfully done. And there’s little here that should warrant higher room rates. However the area doesn’t have a ton of nicer competition, the Marriott Key Bridge has seen better days. Its fortunates will be driven by the area, rather than what they’ve done to the property itself.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The designers of these rooms think it is funny to have barely any outlets showing. The way they hide the outlets at some hotels are amazing as well. Since mist travelers have cell phones and other electronics, the least they can offer are some of those charging stations next to the bed/and other parts of the room. Nobody really cares, no mater how pricey the room may be. The lighting in some of these rooms is also a problem. Some hotels have very little room lighting and finding ways to control the lights can be another hassle. W hotels usually have a great setup with easy lighting controls.

  2. Oooh, I notice that the soap has now been upgraded to “Cleansing bars”. How upscale. 😉

  3. I thought 2016 DSUs (earned in 2015) could still be applied for travel later than 2/2017, but DSUs earned in 2016 and forward have the limitation.

  4. I enjoyed the BeeKind amenities while staying at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki last month and prefer it over the bland Dr. Kenet amenites found everywhere else.

  5. Marriott Georgetown is just renovated. All rooms. It also has a very nice–by US standards–24/7 M Club Lounge, which replaced the concierge lounge. I don’t mind the rooms on the top floor of the Key Bridge Marriott as they are reasonably decent, but, yes, it is a sad property and offers no where near the value of the Georgetown Marriott or the JW Marriott by the White House. The Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City is often the same price as the Key Bridge Marriott.

  6. It’s actually kind of shocking how many sad Marriott properties — aka old — as well as just bland hotels of other brands there are in the nation’s Capital compared to say London or Paris.

  7. London and Paris are more than twice as large as DC (by metro area population), as well as the commercial and cultural centers of their respective countries- in addition their role of capital cities/ seat of government. So there’s really no comparison.

  8. Gary-

    Thank you for all that you do- Love your blog and a long time reader of it… which is why disagreeing with you on this review is a little painful for me.

    I LOVE the Hyatt Centric Arlington. It’s basically my home away from home for lots of reasons but the first and foremost is the absolute first rate service there. Seriously- I get Park Hyatt level service there on each and every stay. Last year they treated my Mom like a queen on her birthday and she still raves about it (she was treated better -much better than the Ritz). They even know my fav bourbon and have it waiting for me- they are that good!

    My biggest bone of contention is how you describe the breakfast (that freebie will change some when they switch to WOH but for now we Diamonds get for free – a $25 value per day- times 4 if you have guests). You describe it as “modest” when it is anything but! It might be one small notch below the Maui Andaz breakfast but it is truely exceptional- with an omelette station chef, specialty jams that I’ve never seen anywhere else, countless high end cheeses, countless breakfast meats and a smorgasboard of giant hot pans full of every breakfast food imaginable straight from the kitchen. I really honestly can’t think of anything more they could add to the spread.

    As for the decor change it’s a marked improvement and has a real youthful feel. The purple chair in each of the rooms is fun, flashy, and comfortable (I tweeted a pic of myself in one a couple months back). I do agree that an added light on the desk would be helpful but I love the vibe of the refurbishment. Rosslyn is really becoming more and more of a happening place for 20 and 30 somethings and this hotel feels young like that.

    Also, each Wednesday night- the mgr gives a VIP reception with dinner food and wines, etc. Sometimes they even do a cooking demonstration.

    It really is a phenomenal hotel and I’m sorry you didn’t experience it the way I often have…. thnx

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