Luxury Hotels


What does a lone female traveller do when she finds herself homeless on the pavement out Washington DC’s Dulles airport at 2 o’clock, a.m.? Half an hour ago our heroine had been on a full B787 Dreamliner. That’s 290 passengers, including assistance needed and kids. The female captain, who chatted verbosely but in a totally incomprehensible way over the tannoy, aborted the flight (which was scheduled for 5.55 p.m.) and all aboard had to get off.

Girlahead was lucky. British Airways called her personally from London and got her the last seat on tomorrow’s flight (she always booked direct – others were frantically trying to call their travel advisors or consolidators). Some knew the nearest no-star hostelry. Girlahead saw a Hilton shuttle bus, got on it.   As it filled up the driver, using the authoritative tone one expects from an airline captain – see above – said no reservation? Get off, the hotel’s full.

What to do? Not a building in site that darkened night, miles from civilisation. A conversation a few days earlier had praised Fairmont as the comfy brand, the welcoming and reliable brand. That’s what to do. Not trusting Uber at that time of the morning, a reputable-company taxi was engaged and at two o’clock our homeless hero staggered round the revolving door of The Fairmont Washington. The lobby, which is DC-themed but not to overkill, was, not surprisingly, empty but for a lone warrior, a Southern gent, behind front desk.

He could not have been more welcoming. Room 936, on the Club floor, had had night turndown, with the turn-down and slippers all ready. Quick connectivity helped expediate necessary re-arrangements of future travel plans and after an excellent sleep – the hotel works with DUXIANA on beds in premium suites, on bedding, and on sleep programmes – it was all of a 30-metre walk to the lounge, Chobani and muesli, and big nuggets of scrambled egg helped repair the void of no dinner last night (the hotel has a new chef, Jaime Montes de Oca, fresh from the Kennedy Center). The style of this hotel is shown by having real old-fashioned butter balls, the ones fashioned from using a pair of grooved wood paddles.

It does seem that the hotel’s GM, Mark Huntley (below), and its owners, MetLife, who during the pandemic supported all the staff of this 413-room non-union hotel, truly understand how to make hospitality succeed. Elements of Washingtonia, including the mirrored silhouette in room 926 (designed by Pierre Josselin) and on walls in the club lounge, give a sense of place. Add the people, the staff, and the overall effect can be summed up by that one word, comforting.  And with that warming thought Girlahead left for the airport to board, for the second night running, a plane to sleep her way across the Atlantic….