by Wendy Irvine
The JW Marriott Washington, DC keeps everyone smiling with its amazing location.
A stay at the JW Marriott means families will be mere blocks from the National Mall, the 2-mile grassy space that is home to the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the White House and the Capitol itself. The hotel is adjacent to the National Theater, which presents fabulous shows and musicals. In the spring, the famed cherry trees drench the city in icy pink and white blossoms, drawing vast crowds. Staying so close to the action, families can enjoy the sights and then give the crowds the slip, while disappearing into the JW Marriott.
Located at Fourteenth and Pennsylvania Avenue, the JW towers 15 stories and offers 737 luxurious rooms and 35 spacious suites; an outstanding fitness room; onsite dining with kids’ menus; a connected international food court; and a stunning lobby that’s worth an Instagram photo.
Our Editor Loves
- Walking distance to monuments
- Onsite dining with kids' menus
- Luxurious guestrooms
- Onsite Dining
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Recall the term "a room with a view?" Well, JW's rooms that overlook Pennsylvania Avenue are the rooms they're talking about. That is if you're into the historical significance of that 555 foot tower soaring into the DC sky. As twilight turns to dark, guests should leave the curtains open, you'll be amazed to see the monument completely awash in white light. Cribs and mini-fridges are available upon request.
At the JW you can choose between one or two beds in the standard rooms. Though on the small side, the rooms are squeaky clean and beautifully decorated in a muted light chocolate, gold and latte color scheme. Beautiful DC landmark photos grace the walls and compliment the view. The bathrooms are also small with a one sink vanity and a regular tub. The iPod docking station and the giant flat screen television make up for the size of the rooms.
The suites -- including two VP and two Presidential suites -- are sumptuous with separate showers and tubs, a sleeper sofa, several flat screen televisions and almost every comfort known to mom.
I recently went to Washington DC for work and it was my first time. The hotel is perfectly located and very nice. My room had a spectacular view 1575 I will never forget. I was disappointed that the hotel doesn’t have normal room service. They have a delivery service with paper and plastic containers instead. One this makes it feel very cheap and two the fact that the hotel uses so much non recyclable packaging made me sad to think that the Marriott Group cares about water conversation but not excessive use of paper and plastic.
If you’re looking for a moderately appointed hotel located in the heart of D.C., then this is the hotel for you. My spouse booked a suite with a view of the Washington Monument at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Ave. It wasn’t worth the money. Let’s start with the positives.
The location can’t be beat; it’s blocks from the White House, National Portrait Museum, Ford Theater, etc. The bed was relatively comfortable, and there was a really plush bathrobe. The small bathroom had a cool mirror, and there was what appeared to be a ‘toe step’ for the ladies to use when shaving their legs. Another positive is that the staff was incredibly apologetic for the every ‘challenge’ we encountered. Here they are…
I hoped to check in early (noon) having recently arrived from Europe and dealing with jet lag. The room wasn’t ready. The staff apologized and offered the same suite on a much lower floor – with no view. I turned it down, not wanting to disappoint my spouse (who booked this room). The staff suggested the room could be ready at 2pm, so I gave them my cell number, checked my bags with the concierge, and left to explore the city. The room wasn’t ready when I returned at 2pm, nor was it ready at 3:30pm. The desk staff had to consult with a manager at 4:30pm when I dragged my zombie-like carcass to the counter for the last time. Why can’t JW Marriott seem to turn a room in a reasonable time? Did the previous guest trashed the room? Did s/he have a messy service animal? Perhaps a family of four cooked a meal right on the floor and burned the carpet? No idea. But I realized that the Elite Bonvoy status my spouse enjoys means nothing at this JW Marriott.
Whatever the reason for not being able to check into the room any time earlier, I don’t hold the desk staff responsible. They must deal with surly guests; I didn’t want to be one of them. Why doesn’t the hotel offer any ameliorating amenity for those waiting? A drink? A meal? A quiet space away from the masses? I came from Europe and was dealing with jet lag – the last thing I wanted to deal with was a cold, noisy lobby while I waited for a room that I was fortunate to enter before sunset.
If timely room check-in was the only issue, I might have let it slide. However, that was just the beginning. I used the toilet a couple times that night. Each time it took longer and longer for the tank to fill, culminating in the toilet running non-stop from about 2am til I called the front desk at 7am the next morning. I was too exhausted to deal with a noisy crapper at 2am, so I shut the bathroom door and went back to sleep. Staff came to room right away in the morning to deal with the run away toilet, and they offered free breakfast. But we didn’t want to push our luck.
Might as well stick with the bathroom. The shower water pressure was nonexistent. Seriously, it sucked. And while the main room is well ventilated, there was no ventilation in the bathroom, so it felt hot and sticky. Maybe I shouldn’t comment on the complimentary soaps/shampoos, but I will. The shampoo wasn’t horrible, just ‘loud’ but the body wash was weird. I imagine this is the smell of a mackerel washed in unscented soap. I couldn’t help but think of fish. Seriously, J Dub? This is the premium product you offer?
There was practically no storage space in the bathroom, which likely explains the bath towels. They were thin and scratchy; maybe I should’ve used the plush robe instead? On the upside, if you want to exfoliate while drying off, those towels got you covered.
The toilet paper holder is placed on the wall behind the commode, so when you sit, you need to be a contortionist to reach the paper. Either that or move the roll to the counter, it’s right there at shoulder height – the bathroom is narrow.
The mattress was comfortable enough. However, the pillows flattened to the size of pancakes. Thankfully there were two spare pancakes in the closet.
The room was large, but the layout was bizarre. Sure, you could see the Washington Monument, but only by standing in the window. Why didn’t they position the bed on a different wall? The window would’ve framed the monument nicely. Did a blind person design the layout? Maybe a single blind person – because that huge room could’ve easily accommodated another chair (or a sofa), yet there was only one chair ottoman combination. At least the chair was stylish, albeit worn.
The last memory I take with me of this painful experience is the bellhop in charge of hailing cabs. His unpredictably timed shrill whistle at the entrance of the hotel was a constant reminder that my hearing is fantastic – at least it was before I checked in. Recommendation: wear noise canceling headphones or earplugs when entering/exiting that door, or use the side entrance.
I've heard that the JW Marriott is the top of the line of the Marriott offerings. Certainly not this one. You might also avoid the hassles and challenges by booking another hotel. I will on my next trip to D.C.
DC is nothing but "family activities," so plan your itinerary and then cut it in half. There's just so much to do and see and experience in DC that keeping it fun and friendly for the kids needs to be a priority. So scale back your plans, pack food for the little guys, grab your camera for memories, wear great walking shoes and remember to smile.
JW Marriott Pool
The hotel features a nice-size, kid-friendly indoor pool. Sitting on the lobby floor and directly adjacent to one of the best hotel fitness rooms, the JW's pool is lit beneath with a series of jeweled lights in the evening. Parents will love the large, very hot whirlpool that can comfortably soothe the tired, sightseeing tootsies of at least 10 adults.
The JW has three dining spots and one full service Starbucks on property. The hotel also sits adjacent to an outstanding food court, featuring diverse dining options. Many excellent family restaurants are in the neighborhood.
The Avenue Grill, is the JW's full service restaurant, and has both a great view of Pennsylvania Avenue and a menu brimming with American food. The upscale atmosphere is high-end, but fine for kids.
A breakfast buffet is available in the Avenue Grill seven days a week beginning at 6:30 a.m. The meal offers omelets, waffles and eggs that are cooked to order. Fresh pastries, fruit, breads, yogurts, smoked salmon and an assortment of cereals are also on hand. Breakfast can be included in your room price through seasonal promotions or specials so read the JW website carefully.
Lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. Both feature featuring steaks, fresh seafood and great salads.
Guests should spend at least one meal in this coziest of lounges that feels like your own living room (only with better furniture and a lot cleaner!). There are plenty of comfy tables ideal for kicking back with your laptop and a small plate, light entree or a slice of something chocolate. The kids will love the multitude of flat screen televisions throughout the venue that are kept at a reasonable volume. Open for dinner only.
Starbucks is open in the lobby for breakfast, lunch and dinner or whenever you may need your caffeine fix.
Located on the 14 floor with a beautiful view of Pennsylvania Ave. is the Concierge Lounge available for Marriott Reward Elite Members and guests who pay the concierge room rate. A continental breakfast is offered Monday through Friday. Sunday through Thursday a light appetizer at happy hour and snacks are available from 6 to 10 p.m.
JW Marriott's 24-hour room service menu offers breakfast, burgers, desserts and a children's menu. Keep in mind that it's definitely not cheap.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The JW Marriott's hotel entrance is not actually on Pennsylvania Avenue, but around the corner on 14 Street.
The JW doesn't operate its own valet or garage parking service; hence the staff isn't as service-oriented as one may like. On top of rather poor service, the prices are steep. Consider dropping the kids, your partner and luggage off at the JW and self park on the other side of the building for a slightly reduced rate.
Wi-Fi is available in the guestrooms for a daily use charge. It is complimentary in the lobby and public areas.
The well appointed fitness room is outstanding and open to guests at no extra price.
The Art of Timing
DC is home to four distinct seasons featuring everything from icy temps to humid Augusts. If you have no interest in broiling or freezing when you travel then a spring or fall DC trip makes the most sense. Spring is everyone's first choice with the temps in the 70's or 80's and the cherry tree blossoms appearing from late March to early April.
From Labor Day to Halloween you can count on truly lovely fall weather with temps in the high 50's or 60's and a little rain here and there. If you missed the spring blossoms, the changing colors of the leaves deliver a gorgeous show in early November making up for it.
Winter and summer are, unfortunately, DC's alter weather egos to the sweet and luscious spring and summer. Winter ushers in everything from menacing cold snaps and the occasional snow to boring, drizzly cold in the 30's to 40's.
Summer is a wonderful time to visit if keeping travel expenses down is your first priority, but be prepared to be a melted pool from the heat that rages into the 90's and humidity that is often at 60 percent. It's steamy, smoggy and just plain icky.
Three airports service the DC region. Reagan International Airport (DCA) is just across the Potomac and the closest airport to downtown. Reagan is particularly nice to use thanks to its direct connection to the Metro rail. Dulles International (IAD) is located in Virginia and is 35 minutes from downtown without traffic. And Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) is located south of Baltimore and is a 50 minute drive in light traffic from the hub of DC.
Washingtonians are very proud of their Metro system, as they should be. The underground trains are graffiti-resistant, clean and comfy. The streets of DC themselves might be sheer confusion for visitors, but the Metro lines are a breeze to navigate. The Metro station -- an easy, safe walk from the JW -- is named Metro Center. As you leave the hotel, head east on Pennsylvania Ave toward 13th St., continue onto E St., turn left at 12th St., you'll see a huge station on the left. It's not as complicated as it sounds.
For Mom and Dad
The concierge would be happy to hire a babysitter from an outside service so mom and dad can have a night out in DC.