The Gaylord: National Harbor

There were upsides and downsides to the arrival/check-in process of my recent trip to the Gaylord National Harbor.   The upside, the two things that went wrong during our arrival were the only problems we had all weekend.  The downside, well…two things went wrong.

The weekend was a unique kind of trip for me, it was the incredibly rare diamond ladies’ spa weekend.   Which mean that while most of us arranged to drive in together, one lady flew in and landed long before some of the others got off work.   Unfortunately, both hiccups happened to my one friend arriving early.   I felt bad, because I thought I had done my homework (I was trying to show off how good I am at travel planning).  A few weeks before my arrival, I was arranging some things with the hotel spa, but while on hold I heard a quick message about a shuttle from the airport to the hotel.  Everywhere I’ve ever stayed and flew in, if there was a hotel-airport shuttle, it was complementary to hotel guests, but apparently not the Gaylord National Harbor.  That shuttle was a whopping $18.  Which may not be much compared to a $40 cab, but it does come at quite the surprise when you weren’t expecting a fee.  So my friend, who has proven herself to be quite the trooper, decided to brave the DC metro.  So after what turned into another small adventure on the DC metro, she came to check-in to the hotel…but they wouldn’t let her.   And this is point where I got a little bit ticked.  See I knew my friend was landing early in the afternoon and that I wouldn’t be able to be there until evening (if I was lucky with DC traffic), so I called the day before to ensure her name was on the reservation so she could check-in (they confirmed she could).   But because we had a discount, and the discount card was travelling with me, she couldn’t check in.   She tried everything, trying to let me speak to them over the phone, promising to bring the card down when we got there,  but they were not going to budge.  So being the good sport she is, my friend checked her bag with the bellhop and went out to explore National Harbor.

A few hours later, the rest of the party shows up.  We drove in (obviously).  And we really lucked out with traffic.  It was a pretty quick drive once we got off of I-95.  But when we pulled up, we had no idea where to park.  So we followed signs for “Self-Parking”…little did we know this was the furthest possible point from the front desk.  But after a little adventuring, we found the front desk and it was an easy check-in after that.

Step #2….finding the room.  I knew the Gaylord was big, I mean just look at the pictures.  But the whole building is basically a square, how hard could it be?  Oh honey, it was hard….so hard….  First, sure it’s basically a square….a quarter mile long square (ok fine, 1/10th of a mile…I checked).  But really this thing is HUGE.  We were trying to set up the room as a surprise for the bride so from the checkout desk we went back to car, then back to the elevators near the checkout desk, then figured out the numbers don’t always go in a logical pattern and ended up walking all the way around the building.  So after all was said and done, we had just walked ½ a mile to get to our room.  And it seriously took like the whole weekend to not get lost, but by day 3, we had figured it out…just in time to go home.

But the rest of the weekend was absolutely smooth sailing.  Getting in and out of parking was easy, going swimming was easy, check out was easy, the housekeeping staff was incredibly helpful and gave us tons of extra supplies when they saw there were 4 of us in the room. The atrium was absolutely gorgeous!!!  I really did enjoy my time there.  The price was a bit high, but if you’re willing to shell out the extra money for a room with a view or if you’re going to a conference in the building I’d say its worth the stay.  Otherwise, a cheaper room down the street might be a better fit.  The building is open to the public though, so feel free to stop in and look around at the beautiful and unique environment they’ve created.  And seriously…buildings inside of buildings…how cool is that?!

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