Return to the The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond — Better This Time

Last November I reported on my mediocre stay at the famed Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

While a grand hotel, there were significant problems:

  • Noise from our upstairs neighbors, including hearing them walking around above us
  • Exceptionally slow service in the hotel’s casual restaurant
  • Valet parking dinged my car door

The Assistant General Manager proactively called me the day after my stay, asked me about the stay, apologized and asked to comp a future night. I finally took her up on the offer, a full year later.

I was given a small suite, similar though a bit smaller than my room last year.

It was perfectly fine, the only thing that last year’s room had though was a bigger shower with three showerheads, one of the best showers I had experienced. I had no complaints about this one, however. And more importantly than anything else, I couldn’t hear upstairs neighbors walking around. (I was rather surprised, actually, to be put in a second floor room considering the specifics of my complaints last year — I would have imagined they’d have put me on the top floor so no one was walking above me, but it turned out not to be a problem at all.)

Toileteries are Molton Brown, which I do like (and long for the days when they were a Westin brand standard).

Since one of my complaints was about a meal in a hotel restaurant last year, they extended dinner in their upscale restaurant Lemaire.

I ordered the foie gras appetizer and my wife ordered the potato soup.

I had the crab cakes, she the bison rib eye, and we shared a side of mac and cheese.

The food was all high quality. The foie was excellent, though the brioche toast was burnt. The soup was nicely poured tableside. The mac and cheese had very high quality cheese, though I wish it also had a bit of truffle oil, it could have been really outstanding.

For dessert I had the maple and coffee crème brulee and she had the pear cobbler

We actually weren’t fond of either and neither of us had more than a few bites. The maple and coffee just didn’t work, and after a few bites was an unpleasant flavor. The cobbler was way too dry, the ice cream on top didn’t even get soaked up by the cookie on top which was just too solid to accept it.

Verdict is that the food was good, though disappointed by the desserts, and very happy at the usual price point — appetizers in the low teens, most entrees in the $20s and I suppose I was even surprised to see all desserts at $7 when I’m used to at least $9. I was disappointed in the cheese selections (Tillamook cheddar and Brie aren’t especially interesting options) which is why I went sweet. If I had it to do it again I might have just had a second appetizer instead of dessert.

There were only two strange or unpleasant interactions that detracted a bit from the stay.

First, I called for a wakeup call at 5 a.m. We went to retire early and were in the room at 8:30pm when housekeeping came by to turn down the room, so we declined the turndown service (though they still offered us the chocolates). Well, we were asleep by 10 p.m. and looking forward to 7 hours’ sleep.

At 10:30pm the phone rang, though not entirely awake what I recall of the conversation was the hotel confirming our 5 a.m. wakeup call was set up and asking me to also re-confirm that we didn’t’ want turndown service. I don’t know what to make of the interaction, both things were – I thought- already taken care of. I guess after our last stay they wanted to be really sure… but they did wake me up in order to do it.

And finally, while I was checking out my wife had called for the car. She went outside with our bags and waited for me to finish up at the front desk. Checkout took a little while — there were some customers checking in who were confused by their reservations, one of whom left but left behind their bags right at the desk. So it took just a bit for the staff to get to me. Meanwhile, the valet saw my wife simply standing out by the car and told her she couldn’t, that she had to move, that they were just too busy for her to be waiting. She told then it would ‘be just a minute’ and the valet replied, “Will it be just a real minute?” Seriously?

Indeed, it was only a minute or so more and I was outside with my bags, loading up the trunk, and we were off. But a strange last impression fo the property.

In the truest and most important test, though, the Jefferson passed — we were there for the Richmond marathon and I had pointed out the Marriott that was directly situated at the start line. My wife said that next year she’d just assume stay at the Jefferson again.

It’s a perfectly nice property. I think they still miss a bit on some of the little things, they probably suffer simply by comparison to their grand reputation but are certainly the choice place to stay in the area.

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. Sounds like a great hard product with a bag of mixed results on the soft product. It is completely absurd you got *woken up* to confirm the wakeup call, and the front desk sounds like it didn’t have all it’s marbles. I’m guessing they have high turnover on the staff, perhaps?

  2. Good review. The call at 10:30 PM reconfirming your wake-up call would have really pissed me off. Ugh.

    The “truffle oil” comment was a bit pretentious. But, solid review otherwise.

  3. @mark pretentious? I really sat there thinking that the mac & cheese as-presented would have been AMAZING truffled. And if it wasn’t just panko on top but maybe some actually finished off with some broiled cheese.

  4. People stomping above me – drives me nutso and I agree w/BBB I have a feeling they blocked the room above you – which doesn’t really fix the problem for next time – especially if they are full.

  5. @RJUNK and BBBB, the comment about blocking the room above reminds me of the NUMBER 1 way a hotel can EASILY keep me happy: if they are not full, then block the rooms to each side of me! (I always pick a top floor in an older hotel, so I avoid the “stomping elephants”.) A half-full hotel could easily create a space buffer for their frequent guests!

  6. It’s fun living vicariously through your experience as the guest du jour of a fairly fancy hotel. Thanks for your descriptive account.

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