While I love to travel, I don’t always share the places that I stay, because for me, accessibility trumps the cool factor. If there isn’t enough space for me and my sister to really get around the room, or there isn’t a roll-in shower, I can’t stay there, no matter how cute the hotel may be. But sometimes, things just work out and I find a hotel where accessibility and the it factor combine, and I’m truly in my element. For me, that place is The Willard Intercontinental in DC.
I have stayed at The Willard three times now, and honestly, I can’t imagine going to DC and staying anywhere else. It is truly a gem and just makes my time in the city so much better, both from an accessibility standpoint and a general convenience standpoint, too. I’m going to share a little bit about the hotel today and why I love it so much!
Before I talk specifically about the accessibility, I want to talk a little bit about the hotel itself. I’ve stayed in a few different neighborhoods in DC, Dupont, Georgetown, and then nearer to Capitol Hill. Of course, where you want to stay will depend on what you want to do while you’re visiting. But I’ve found that for me, staying near Capitol Hill / the White House is best, because it’s central enough that it’s easy to get anywhere else in DC. Which is why I think that the location of The Willard cannot be beat, in my opinion. It’s almost next to the White House, so you can easily walk to all of the major museums and monuments. It’s also close enough to walk to (or order delivery from, ha!) lots of delicious restaurants, including one of my all time favorites, Zaytinya. For this most recent trip, we didn’t even get our car from the garage the whole time we were there! It’s just an incredible location but doesn’t feel too crowded, either. It’s also dog friendly, which Lily very much enjoys.
There’s also the fact that the hotel is absolutely stunning! It’s historical and screams old-world glamour. The lobby is huge (during the holidays, they have a giant Christmas tree in the middle of it), with lots of space for lounging, with couches and tables/chairs. This is something I always notice – is there a table that’s high enough that I’d be able to pull up to and reach, and not just a coffee table height table? And happily, there is! It’s just really open and gorgeous. There’s also a restaurant with a big outdoor patio and little cafe on site and open until 10 PM, which means I can easily order my espresso macchiato at almost any time of day or night – a huge perk.
And then! The real reason that I want to write this post. The Willard has a one bedroom, two queen bed mobility accessible suite (also with a sofa bed) that is probably the best suite I’ve ever stayed in. When I travel, I’m traveling with my parents and my sister, who also uses a wheelchair. This means that we really need space in a hotel room – it can be tight with four people in general, but when two of those four use power wheelchairs, rooms feel extra cramped. It’s also hard to even find a one bedroom accessible suite that has two queen beds and a roll-in shower. Typically, accessible rooms, for some reason, have only one king bed in rooms with a roll-in shower. So even the existence of this type and setup of room is huge for me and my family. (I will note – I found out in December that they only have one of this type of suite in the whole hotel, and I wish they had more!)
So not only does the suite exist, but it is HUGE. It makes our trips feel so much more relaxed – there are tables that are wheelchair height and large enough to really spread things out on. There’s a really spacious living room type space, with the sofa, a chair, and the TV. There’s a little foyer / entryway. The bedroom itself is spacious, too, with room for someone to drive their wheelchair up next to at least one of the beds to transfer, if not both (I don’t transfer myself so I don’t want to say both for sure!). Plus there’s space for a desk, a dresser, a chair, and still room for me to move around in my chair.
The room has so many little luxuries, too! They have a Nespresso machine, which means that I get to start my mornings with a few shots of delicious espresso. There’s a little fridge, and if you request it, they’ll add a microwave (which is key for me for disability purposes). And there are macarons in your room at check-in, which is quite the treat.
But the absolute best part, in my opinion, is the accessible bathroom. As a disabled person, I’m a little bit of a bathroom connoisseur, and this bathroom is one of my favorites. It is basically the size of a small bedroom, and has a roll in shower, separate tub (with transfer bench!), toilet, double sink vanity, and SO much space to move around and turn my chair around. I’m so used to having to find the exact right spot in a bathroom to be able to park my wheelchair and have it not be in the way, and that’s not the case at all here. There’s also a second powder room – it’s smaller, but my wheelchair did still fit in it. Having 1.5 bathrooms is also something that’s almost unheard of in mobility accessible suites, but something that, again, makes our trip MUCH more enjoyable.
You might be wondering why I’m sharing so much detail about the hotel and the room – it’s because finding accessibility information beyond the short room description on a hotel’s website can be really hard. This is the information that I’m always looking for – so I’m sharing the level of detail that I’d like to read, myself. As a disabled person, the more information that I have about a hotel and it’s accessibility ahead of time, the less I have to worry about something being wrong when I arrive. I will take any and all peace of mind that I can get when it comes to traveling.
The Willard is a great hotel for anyone, disabled or non-disabled. It’s just that I rarely find a hotel suite that is so spacious and accessible that I actually look forward to returning and staying there again – but the one bedroom suite at The Willard is that for me. I’m already plotting my return!