I don’t like hotels, I never have and I probably never will. No, I’ve never been scarred by some abhorrent service or stained sheets, I’ve never been forced to deal with screaming toddlers or barking dogs. My dislike of hotels comes from my distaste for sterility and vehement detestation of cruel people. I’m not saying I’d enjoy some more mold in the bathroom or bacteria in my sheets- because I’m not talking about sterility in terms of germs and creepy crawlies, I’m talking about sterility of character. And cruelty is not defined by some archaic acts of the Spanish Inquisition, but instead the disregard of the humanity of those charged with providing for your every need or whim. I suppose this doesn’t particularly encourage you to continue on reading for my opinion of the, once Vista, now Weston Washington Hotel. No my opinion of the Weston is not good, but it isn’t bad either. Alas the complexity of human opinion reigns and further explanation is required to really understand what I’m seeing when I see the Weston Washington D.C. Community Center on M Street.
The Weston (nee Vista) hotel is located at 1400 M Street NW, close to Luther Place Church and within walking distance of the National Mall. Built in 1982 and most recently renovated in 2008 the Weston is most famous as the backdrop for the dramatic arrest of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for drug charges and the reveal of an ongoing FBI investigation of his activities. This news not only shocked D.C., in which Barry had recently launched an anti-drug campaign, but also ignited racial tensions among those who felt that Barry was being targeted for his African American Heritage. The seventeen million dollar renovation focused on the interior of the hotel, mostly modernizing its restaurant and opening up the lobby to natural light. The hotel itself is far enough away from the closest Metro stop to make a tourist grumble, and according to the reviews on their website, the $59 daily charge to park a car is not very appreciated. In fact, the hotel has gained only 3.3 star out of 5, and only 57% of guests would recommend it to a friend. Out of 595 reviews, 313 are three stars or below; that’s 52.6% of people how would rate the hotel as merely okay. These facts and figures were not difficult to find; their mediocrity is plastered on the front of the web page. According to a large portion of theses reviews, the staff is kind and generous to the Weston chain gold members, but to the average person travelling for fun, their lacking in their hospitality.
On the note of the parking, the entrance of the Weston is on a one way street off of a traffic circle that goes into K street and the metro is decidedly not as close as one would hope to travel with a suitcase. In order to get from the airport, were someone coming by plane, one would have to take the metro and transfer at least once, twice to get as close to the hotel as possible. For someone not used to using the metro this is a barrier that many would be unwilling to hurdle. In the age before Uber that leaves two options: a taxi or renting a car. A taxi would cost about $18, and the price for renting a car varies depending on a number of variables. For someone only wanting to get to the airport and back shelling out the $36 is well worth it, but should someone be wanting to drive to other areas taxi fare quickly adds up. Thus there is only one option, the $59 valet parking. That’s almost $300 for five days. That’s a specific clientele they’re trying to attract.
Maybe that’s what really gets me about hotels. That underneath even the toothiest smile there is some amount of dislike or resentment, some feeling of inferiority, some ingrained knowledge that I am paying for their kindness. In such a romantic city as D.C. I had hoped for something more. Instead, there is a strobe light of a hotel illuminating a block in its attempted class. The four sets of three lights that shine up every story on either side of the main entrance fade across the color spectrum in an endless cycle of pollution that does nothing to “swankify” the brown brick and black windowed exterior.
Taken from across the one way street (M Street), depicting the facade of the Weston. The lights are displayed as purple but they cycle through the different colors on the color spectrum. Under the overhang is the valet parking, the actual parking garage cleverly hidden down the street, intentional or not it is very difficult to not use the valet parking as it is the easiest and most obvious turn on the one way street.
Taken from the entrance of the parking garage, marked only by the singular unmarked sign, this displays the hidden nature of the garage. The entrance is placed very soon after the turn onto the street from Thomas Circle Northwest, a tricky round about that even D.C. residents have a difficult time negotiating, making it extremely difficult for any tourists.
This picture depicts the first set of three lights on the right side of the building (four sets of lights total) and the concrete wall that they illuminate. I chose this picture to highlight the repaired spots on the wall, which seems odd considering the renovation the hotel underwent in 2008. It results in an unfinished and somewhat moldy look.
The green lights, this time from the left side, again highlight the odd marks on the side of the facade of the hotels wall. On top of this, it is immediately obvious that the green of the lights do not match the warm looking interior. As the lights range across the spectrum some, such as the orange in the second picture, match well, whereas this green does not.
Across Thomas Circle stands Luther Place Memorial Church. The quiet lighting, gardens, and haunting classical architecture provide a stark comparison to the Weston across the way. Truly unique to the small D.C. area to have a historical church and witness to the drama and revamp of a glitzy hotel some meters away.
This picture is taken from the right side of Luther Place, facing Thomas Circle. The street covered by the tree is where the Weston claims it’s territory, directly across the circle. The steeple on the right side of the picture decorates the top of the National City Church, another witness to the going ons of the eventful circle.