JW Marriott Washington, DC

So far, I’ve had a great year of Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum status: the St. Regis Bangkok and Sheraton Royal Orchid Bangkok left me completely delighted with SPG service standards. But on a recent vacation to Washington, DC, I felt it was time to widen my horizons and experience the Marriott side of things. I was particularly interested in seeing how JW Marriott, one of the more luxury brands in the Marriott group, would do.


I booked my stay for $184.47 after taxes thanks to Marriott’s (now expired) Cyber Monday promotion. This was a fantastic offer, given prices at this facility often vary between $250 and $300. This Category 8 property would have cost 40,000 points per night if I had used points.

While I knew I should’ve used my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the booking, I’d been thinking about pursuing lifetime status with Marriott. So I used my Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card to pay, getting 5x Marriott points. In addition to the 15 points per dollar I get as a Platinum Elite, I earned a total of 3,680 points, worth $33. While they were a pittance in comparison to the 2 million points required for lifetime Platinum status with Marriott, I was pleased with my selection.


The JW Marriott was located in excellent DC real estate, just one block from the White House and two blocks from the Metro Center metro station, which connects Reagan National Airport (DCA) to Downtown via the Blue Line. Given the tiny size of DC, the hotel was only a 10-minute Uber trip from DCA, providing you weren’t stopped behind a presidential procession. The rest of the area was filled with government buildings, excellent restaurants, and other luxury hotels (the Willard InterContinental and W DC share a block). Chinatown and the Newseum, my favorite of DC’s apparently limitless assortment of museums, were a 15-minute walk to the east.


We arrived in DC on a snowy day to find that the hotel’s main entrance on 14th Street was shockingly difficult to find – we had to park a few streets away and make a frantic run through the snow. However, being a resident of Washington, DC, I shouldn’t have been startled by traffic issues so close to the White House.

We entered a big rectangular lobby with an open view of the restaurants on the lower levels, glass chandeliers, and no less than a dozen Christmas trees.

In the rear, there was a Starbucks, and on the right side, there were four check-in desks.

There was no line, so we were helped right away, only to have my fantastic upgrading streak abruptly ended. The representative praised me for my Platinum level and informed me that we had been assigned a room with a wonderful view. While she was correct about the view, the room itself was a regular guest room, the hotel’s lowest level. She then proceeded to inform us that the hotel’s executive lounge, which was ordinarily available to Gold and Platinum members, was closed on weekends. (On Sunday nights, it reopens.) I was offered 1,000 points as compensation, but $9 was insufficient to compensate for missing out on complimentary breakfast. But we’ll get to that later.


So we weren’t off to the best of starts, but I’d done my homework on this hotel and couldn’t wait to see the views from our 10th-floor room. They did not let us down. The White House Visitor Center and the Washington Monument were visible from our south-facing room. (Due to DC’s construction height limits, practically every building provides a view of the city’s most notable sites.)

Our 300-square-foot guest room was comfortable enough for a one-night visit. I liked how the patterned lights on the bathroom mirror kept the room alert but not too bright. Aromatherapy Associates provided the toiletries, which were scented with lavender and rosemary.

A coffeemaker and a couple bottles of water were on the other side of the corridor from the restroom. A good-sized wardrobe with bathrobes, additional pillows, and a full-length mirror was just beyond that.

The king bed was solid yet comfy, and the 47-inch LCD TV was situated nicely across from it.

All Marriott Rewards members received free Wi-Fi, with Gold and Platinum members receiving “enhanced Wi-Fi.” The speeds were consistent, and I had no trouble completing tasks over the day. There was also a room-service menu that didn’t appear too tempting, and as we already had dinner arrangements, we chose to skip it.

Overall, the room was nice, but it lacked the tiny touches (like Nespresso machines, branded water bottles, and modern lighting-and-blinds controls) that I’d come to expect from a high-end hotel. It was also the tiniest room I’d been in since achieving Platinum rank. While it was more than enough for one night, I’m not sure why this hotel was assigned to Category 8, Marriott’s second-highest grade.

Food and Beverage

I can’t understand why a hotel would close its lounge on weekends, which are typically the busiest travel days, and I discovered that this was far from standard for other JW Marriotts. I’d worked hard to gain my status, and I was determined to have my free breakfast even if the lounge was closed. After a phone call to Marriott headquarters and three contacts with the front desk, I was ultimately awarded a complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel’s Avenue Grill restaurant in addition to the 1,000 points I’d been given.

The buffet featured everything you needed for a proper continental breakfast, including an endless mound of pecan-smoked bacon that tasted just as wonderful as it smelled. With that plus the fresh and savory made-to-order omelet, this ranked as one of the better breakfast buffets available.

There was also an a la carte menu, however it was extensively overlapping with the buffet.


Although our stay was too brief to take advantage of them, the hotel included a gym and a pool on the first level.

The gym was well-equipped, with enough of weights and machines to accommodate a big group. The pool, on the other hand, was aggressively average: normal size, no unusual design or views, nothing.

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