The Ritz Carlton Pentagon City (RC Pentagon City) is a nice, classic hotel located just outside Washington DC, near DCA airport. We had an excellent 4-night stay there, in connection with the wedding of Middle Age Miles son Dylan and his bride, Alli.
Booking and Rate
To start off this section, it’s useful to have a bit of background about rates at the RC Pentagon City. In short, rates during the week are often quite high, while weekend rates for many weekends can be quite low. That is, this hotel commands a premium for government/business travelers during the week but has to compete quite hard for leisure travelers on the weekend.
The rate schedule for the upcoming month of September 2019 illustrates this principle pretty well (actually, the weekday rates during September are a bit lower than at some other times of the year):
The RC Pentagon City is a Marriott Category 6 hotel, with a standard award redemption rate of 50,000 points per night. This would not be a good deal on weekend nights with low points rates, but it could be a very solid redemption if you need to stay on a weeknight when rates can be $400 or more.
Our stay would be a 4-night stay, checking in on Wed 5/29 and out on Sun 6/2. That meant that we’d have 2 weeknights (more expensive) and 2 weekend nights (less expensive). We were quite fortunate to be staying during the week after Memorial Day, when Congress was not in session. That helped to drop weekday rates to a relatively low point. Even at that, though, the Member Rates for a weeknight were still almost $300/night.
Another piece of our booking puzzle was that we wanted to use a Club Level Upgrade Certificate from our Ritz Carlton Visa card (RC Visa). We knew from past experience that the club lounge at the RC Pentagon City was quite nice and would be well worth using a certificate. But there are challenges to using these certificates, most notably that they can only be used when you book direct with Marriott/Ritz Carlton on a Member Rate or Standard Rate. That means that a lot of rates and booking options are excluded – no advance-payment rates, corporate rates, AAA rates, award or certificate free nights, Citi Prestige 4th night free bookings, Amex FHR/Chase LHRC/Virtuoso bookings, and no other third-party bookings.
So, on this reservation, we were limited to booking a Member Rate (fortunately, not much higher than other available rates in this instance). Fortunately, though, a Member Rate would also entitle us to a $100 hotel property credit, as another benefit of our Ritz Carlton Visa card (requires a paid stay using a Ritz Carlton credit card, minimum 2-night stay, valid only on member rates and non-discounted rates).
With all these limitations in mind, we decided to try an experiment to see if we could stack two benefits, (1) using a Club Level Upgrade Certificate, and (2) earning points, miles or cashback through a shopping portal. The experiment would go as follows: We would go through a shopping portal, then book our room at a Member Rate direct with Marriott, using our Ritz Carlton Visa card to hold the reservation. In this case, we booked the room by going through the AAdvantage eShopping portal, on a day when they were running an enhanced offer of 10 AA miles per dollar. Then, we would call in to the Ritz Carlton Visa card’s dedicated line for reservations (800-542-8680) and asked them to apply our Club Level Upgrade Certificate to the reservation.
We wrote a detailed article about our experiment, which you can read here:
- Middle Age Miles: Can You Stack Shopping Portal Benefits with Using a Club Level Upgrade Certificate from the Ritz Carlton Visa Card? (Experiment-in-Progress) (6/4/2019)
For starters, the Club Level Upgrade worked fine. Our reservation was updated to show a Club Level room, and we were indeed assigned to the Club Level at check-in. We’re still waiting to see if our AA miles will post and that will happen automatically or if we’ll have to follow up with AAdvantage eShopping customer service.
Our rate details, benefits and earnings were:
- Base rate = $976
- Two weeknights at $293 each and two weekend nights at $195 each (all Member Rates)
- All-in price = $1,105
- Club Level room (with Upgrade Certificate from RC Visa card)
- $100 hotel credit (benefit of RC Visa card; basically food & drink at the hotel restaurant as other charges were excluded)
- Potential portal earning = 9,760 AA miles ($122 at 0.125 cents per mile)
- Points earning from stay = 27,840 Marriott points ($195 at 0.7 cpp)
- Base points = 9,760
- Titanium elite bonus (75%) = 7,320
- Bonus points from Double Take promo = 9,760
- Titanium member welcome gift = 1,000
- Points earning from credit card = 4,422 Marriott points ($31 at 0.7 cpp)
- We paid with an Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card, which earns 6x on Marriott charges. Note that we only put $737 on the card; the rest was paid with Marriott gift certificates that we’d accumulated through various promotions and/or Amex Offers
The RC Pentagon City has an extremely convenient location to access everything in the DC area. The Pentagon City Metro station is literally right outside the front door of the hotel, and the Metro can take you easily to most anywhere you need to be or want to visit in DC. In addition, unless traffic is particularly bad, the hotel is only about 10 minutes from Reagan National airport (DCA).
On a more micro level, the RC Pentagon City almost could not possibly be better and more conveniently located. It’s actually attached to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, a multi-story mall with a large food court on the lower level and tons of shopping options (it’s a Simon Mall, for those who are interested in such things!). You don’t even have to walk outside to go into the mall; the buildings are literally connected.
A Shake Shack sits less than 50 steps from the hotel entrance (yum!). There are more dining options within easy walking distance in the Pentagon Row center. (And you can get there easily from the hotel – go into the mall and down the escalator into the food court. Look for the Poke place. Right next to it is a hallway that leads to an underground tunnel. Go up the flight of stairs at the end of the tunnel, walk across the small street, and you’re entering Pentagon Row). Across the street from the hotel is an outdoor shopping center that includes Best Buy, Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, Modell’s Sporting Goods, and a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant. And on the far side of that center, there’s even a Costco!
Service, Check-In and Check-Out
Good, personalized service was definitely a priority at the RC Pentagon City, and this came across quite well. Each time you come and go through the front entrance during the daytime or evening hours, there’s someone there to open the door and greet you. The hotel staff as well as the valet parking attendants were quite friendly and helpful at every turn. They’ll often proactively offer you a bottle of water when you return. And if they don’t offer, they’re happy to provide you with a bottle if you ask.
The valet parking service was always quick. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes for our SUV to be brought up. They were also patient and flexible with us on the occasions when we had to wait for our group to get organized to leave the hotel, allowing us to leave our vehicle near the front until we were ready to go. Bellhop service at the entrance was also always quick and eager to help, including when we had an above-and-beyond request to move a bunch of boxes up to our room.
Front desk service wasn’t always perfectly polished, but the agents leaned in to help the guest as best they could in our experience. (Our son had one minor issue on check-out, but we weren’t there to see it, and we understand why the situation that caused this issue may have been confusing to the agent.) The staff was happy to help us make special arrangements when needed, such as making sure that clothes sent out for pressing would be returned to us at a certain time (important since we were at the hotel for a wedding), and seeing that we weren’t charged extra for it.
At check-in, we were assigned to a standard room with one king bed on the Club Level, consistent with our reservation. We were not offered a further upgrade based on our Titanium elite status, and we didn’t ask for one. Also, when we checked in, one of the house concierges, Virginia, proactively came over to the front desk, introduced herself and gave us her card, and made sure we knew to call her for whatever we needed. We appreciated this nice touch.
At our check-out, we asked to pay with some Marriott gift cards as well as change the payment card for our room. The gift cards required having a supervisor come to the front desk to manually check the card balances and apply them, but they were happy to do this.
During our stay, we hosted an event at the hotel (rehearsal dinner for the wedding). Without bogging down in details, our executive summary is that the staff was accommodating, and the event turned out very nicely. There were a few points along the way where we had to push back to keep the costs down to what we’d been promised originally, but in the end this turned out fine. Also, costs for “extras” such as AV equipment were high, but the hotel accommodated us without trouble when we asked to use our own instead.
Finally, perhaps the best service of all came from the ladies who run the Club Lounge. They were very friendly, called us by name on each visit, and happily helped us at every turn.
All in all, this was an occasion (fairly rare) that we were somewhat demanding guests, and the staff at the RC Pentagon City handled it quite well and made us feel like valued customers.
Hotel Common Areas
Lobby and Restaurant
When you enter the hotel, you’re immediately facing the restaurant and bar, called Fyve. Turn to the left, and you’ll see the front desk straight ahead at the end of the room, with a small waiting area in front of it. As you walk toward the front desk, the concierge stand will be on your right, and the elevators will be to your left behind a partial wall. You’ll also pass a large set of stairs on the left that leads to the 2nd floor, where there are meeting rooms and a business center (not pictured).
We didn’t eat at Fyve restaurant other than a cheese platter, which was good. Drinks were excellent albeit expensive, around $16 each. We didn’t have any trouble spending our $100 food & beverage credit here!
If you turn the other way, to the right, from the hotel entrance, you’ll see a hallway that turns down to the left. Lobby restrooms are in that hallway, along with entrances to a couple of meeting rooms. Follow that hallway all the way to the end, and you can exit directly into Fashion Centre at Pentagon City Mall, which is quite convenient.
The fitness center is on the 3rd floor of the hotel. We used it multiple times. The fitness center had its high points and low points, but overall, we were a little underwhelmed.
Cardio equipment was from Technogym and consisted of 3 treadmills, 3 ellipticals, and 2 very low-tech bikes. The treadmills were fine, but the bikes were sub-par. They had absolutely no electronic display – no timer, nothing to display your RPMs or speed, nothing. Resistance could be set using a manual dial, with no markings for different resistance levels – just more resistance or less resistance. On one of the bikes, the resistance level was so high that you could hardly ride it at any setting.
Weight machines were by Cybex, and there was also a small free weight area.
The only water in the fitness center was from a cooler. Towels were available, including cool towels in a chiller by the front desk. There were small men’s and women’s locker rooms on either side of the front desk. The front desk, though, was never staffed.
Perhaps our biggest complaint about the fitness center was that it was very hot every day. At least we got to sweat a lot during our workouts, I guess!
This seems like a good point to mention one other interesting thing about our stay. Our fellow guests at the hotel were the San Jose Earthquakes MLS soccer team. They were already in the hotel when we arrived on Wednesday, in advance of their Saturday evening match against DC United (the match ended in a 1-1 draw). It was pretty cool – and a bit intimidating – to work out in the fitness center alongside the professional athletes!
The Club Lounge is an absolute highlight of the RC Pentagon City. It’s worth upgrading if you have a chance.
The Club Lounge is on the 18th floor, which is the top floor of the hotel. Club Level rooms are on 17 and 18. The Club Lounge actually has no doors, so you can access it 24/7 to pick up soft drinks and water. Access to the 18th floor, however, is controlled with a card key reader in the elevator; you’ll only be able to access the 18th floor if you have a Club Level room.
As we mentioned earlier, service at the Club Lounge was exceptional. The ladies there take great pride in the Lounge, and they took great care to make sure we felt welcome and appreciated and had everything we needed.
There are 5 separate food presentations each day, as summarized on this card we were given at check-in:
We found it incredibly helpful that the Breakfast presentation was open until 11:00 am, especially since we and others in our group had traveled to DC from time zones further west! Delicious bacon was included in the breakfast presentation each day, which we appreciated. It was also nice that the Lounge had a self-serve wine machine that was available throughout the afternoon and evening servings until the last serving closed at 10:00 pm.
The Club Lounge windows face north, so you overlook the Pentagon and have a view into DC, slightly obstructed by some neighboring buildings. It’s also a great plane-watching place, as you have a clear view of the tight flight path required for landing aircraft landing north-to-south into the prevailing south wind (or you can see take-offs, if the wind is from the north).
Here are some pictures of the Club Lounge and some of the food & drink there:
Guest rooms at the RC Pentagon City are located on floors 4 through 18, with floors 17 and 18 being the Club Level floors.
We were assigned to a standard Club Level guest room, Room 1826. We also had Room 1824 next door, booked for our son and daughter-in-law. Both of our rooms faced north, with basically the same view as from the Club Lounge, overlooking the Pentagon and DC. If you’re staying at the RC Pentagon City, you’ll definitely prefer a north-facing room for the view (generally, the even-numbered rooms from -06 through -28).
Standard rooms are 400 square feet. They’re the same on the Club Level as on the lower floors. Basic layout is that when you enter, the restroom is on one side and a closet on the other, then the room opens up into the main bedroom. The room contains a work desk. The work desk has plenty of power outlets, including a dedicated power port with electric and USB connections, but one minor complaint would be the lack of power that’s easily accessible near the bed.
Here’s a tour of the room in pictures, taken of Room 1824:
Leak in the Hallway Ceiling
We had one strange issue during our stay, which was a major leak in the ceiling of the hallway leading from the elevator to our 18th-floor room. For the first 3 days of our stay, the leak seemed unattended-to – the hotel simply put a trash bin underneath the leak to catch the water and put some caution signs around it. On the last day of our stay, the hotel undertook repairs on the leak, and it seemed to be fixed (at least on a short-term basis) by the time we checked out.
As you can see, the leak created quite an eyesore, although it didn’t really interfere with our stay.
On our last afternoon, a hotel manager called us about the leak and the repairs. She said that hot water service would be interrupted during the afternoon, and she wanted to move us to a different Club Level room. It would have been quite inconvenient to us to move at the time, as we were in the throes of getting ready for our son’s wedding later in the day, so we politely declined a room change.
The manager apologized for the leak and the disruptive repairs, and she offered us 20,000 Marriott points as compensation. We did not ask for this, but we thought it was a very nice gesture.
Points Not Posting Correctly
As we mentioned, we had 2 rooms – our own, plus the room for our son and daughter-in-law next door. Both rooms were booked under my name and Marriott Bonvoy number, and we paid for both rooms.
Points for our personal room posted correctly, including double base points from the then-active Double Take promotion and our 1,000 point Titanium welcome gift. However, 4 days after check-out, points from the second room have not yet posted. In addition, the Marriott points that the manager promised because of the leaky ceiling have not posted either. We’ll be following up with the hotel manager, and then Marriott Bonvoy if necessary, to make sure the correct points get posted into our account.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City. It’s a very nice hotel, and especially so if you can get Club Level access. As we mentioned, service was very good across the board, and we were made to feel like welcome and valued guests. We’d be quite happy to stay there again, particularly if we can book on a weekend with low rates!
Have you stayed at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City? What can you add to our review? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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