Seven Savory Eateries on Norwegian Bliss

With the biggest eating holiday of the year upon us, today seemed like a good day to write-up our dining experience on the Norwegian Bliss! Before we get there, however, I’ll point out that I’m only covering the specialty restaurants we chose to eat at, not any of the free options. We did eat at The Local, Taste, Savor and even the Manhattan Room one night, which were fine, but the specialties are what really stand out with the Norwegian Freestyle experience.

The topic of specialty restaurants sometimes sparks some lively discussion regarding the perception of nickel-and-diming by the various lines, and I have no illusion that some will be turned off by me only covering those here. As ships have gotten bigger, the number of specialty restaurants on board has grown too, giving the lines additional revenue opportunities. In the past we rarely ate at specialty restaurants, save for the occasional steakhouse on a special occasion, but those were few and far between. That all changed on our Norwegian Escape sailing three years ago when we decided to give some of the restaurants on that ship a shot, and we were not disappointed! With another sailing on Norwegian, purchasing a dining package was a no brainer for us. If you’re looking for ideas of places to try on the Bliss, read on!

Q Texas Smokehouse

This is one of the three places we chose to use our dining package on, and frankly I wasn’t sure what to expect since the reviews all seem rather mixed. After we were seated, the waitress came by and explained how things worked with the dining package, and I have to say, I was unprepared for what this would mean to my stomach. Before we get in to this, take a look at the menu located here. You get as many appetizers as you want, an entrée with as many sides as you want, along with a dessert. If you looked at the menu, keep in mind that you can get the Pitmaster Platter as your entree too!

As shown in the pics below, I started with the Deviled Eggs and Loaded Chips. For my entrée, the Beef and Pork Sausage Platter with corn on the cob and mac & cheese as my sides. Everything was delicious, especially the deviled eggs and sausage. By this point we were both stuffed, but knowing we still had a dessert menu to look at, we soldiered on. The decision really wasn’t that hard. Jen went with the Mason Jar Bread Pudding, and I chose the Bread Pudding w/Whiskey Sauce. Yowza they were good. This proved to be an excellent start to our dining experience on the Bliss!

Le Bistro

Night two brought us to the one place I was a bit apprehensive about, Le Bistro. I say that because I don’t really get too adventurous with food. I know what I like and I tend to stick to it, and knowing this was a French venue had me concerned that I’d have a hard time finding something I liked. Boy was I wrong!

We used the dining package for this one as well, and as before, the waitress said that we could choose more than one appetizer if we wanted to (menu for reference). I chose to only have one due to my aforementioned pickiness when it comes to eating. Frankly, I didn’t see anything in the list I really wanted, but chose to try the Gratiné A L’oignon (Onion Soup), and I was glad I did. I’m not a big soup fan and I don’t like onions, which should have been the death knoll of this choice, but it was outstanding! Following my delicious soup, it was entrée time! This was a bit easier, as I’m all about some filet mignon, so I went with the Filet de boeuf grillé. Again, excellent! Easily the best filet I’ve had on any ship we’ve sailed, and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare as ordered. Once we finished the entrées, it was time to choose our dessert. Jen chose the Chocolate Fondue for Two, and I went with the Profiteroles. Both were excellent, but I learned I need more profiteroles in my life. Those things were soooo good.

This restaurant is situated in a quiet nook on deck 16, and isn’t really a place you wear shorts and t-shirts to. If you’re looking for a nice quiet, romantic meal aboard the Bliss, this is where you want to go! I should also mention that the service in Le Bistro was some of the best we’ve experienced at any restaurant, land or sea. This is near the top of my all-time favorite shipboard eateries!

Teppanyaki

Night 3 brought us to one of the venues we’d been looking forward to since we booked this cruise, Teppanyaki, which was also the last restaurant on our dining package. As mentioned in the Escape post, this was one of the best Japanese steakhouses we’ve ever eaten at, so we were hoping the Bliss version of it would live up to that. Spoiler alert: It did! That garlic fried rice is some of the best out there, and once again, my filet mignon was cooked perfectly. As the chef doles out certain items like rice, he cooks extra in case anyone wants seconds. Jen and I took him up on that for rice, and somehow I got a lot of extra filet. A couple of minutes after serving me my helping of steak, he sent another round my way. What you see in the picture below is only the first helping. I had almost double that shortly after the picture was taken!

Excellent food, excellent service, and a great show from the chef left us happy with our choice once again. Teppanyaki is definitely a favorite of ours and one I highly recommend trying if you sail a Norwegian ship that has it!

Cagney’s Steakhouse

On the 4th night of our sailing, we were invited to Cagney’s as part of an industry-related meeting, so we were on someone else’s tab for this one :). We’d eaten here on the Escape and enjoyed it, but hadn’t planned to eat here until we got the invite. This is an easy one for me to find food I like, as I’m very much a meat and potatoes kinda guy.

Starting off, I went with the Pork Belly appetizer and Iceberg Wedge salad (menu for reference). Both were tasty, but those pork belly squares are a home run! For my appetizer, surprise, another filet! While it was cooked medium rare as ordered and tasty, the filets at Le Bistro and Teppanyaki were definitely better. This just seemed a little dry to me, so it was nice to have the chimichurry sauce to go with it.

The desserts here were pretty good, with my chocolate cake being really, really rich. One of the other people at our table got the warm brownie dessert, and I think we all wished we’d have gotten it after sampling it, super tasty!

Food Republic

After we sailed on the Escape, this was just below Teppanyaki as one of my all-time favorite restaurants on a ship, so I was very much looking forward to eating here on the Bliss. This one’s not part of the dining packages, it’s an a-la-cart fusion restaurant that combines various cooking styles and culinary traditions set in a venue that offers plentiful sea views. On the Escape, I really enjoyed the Wagyu bone-in rib-eye, and I was a little disappointed when I saw that wasn’t on the menu anymore, but my disappointment subsided as we started ordering. Here’s where I remind you that it’s a-la-cart, and the bill can add up pretty quickly as you start ordering things for yourself and things to share. I should also link to menus for this place (these are not my menu shots, sy the way): Handhelds/Sharables, Rice/Noodles/Grill, Drinks/Desserts. We did order more than we really needed, but it was really tasty and I’m pretty sure we finished everything. From the Korean Fried Chicken to the Peruvian Beef Skewers, Chicken Teriaki, Kimchi Fried Rice, ending with the Baklava, everything was delicious. To me, this is a must-visit on Norwegian ships that have it!

Los Lobos

We’d originally intended on using one of our three dining credits here, but got a last-minute industry invite, so this ended up being another one we didn’t have to pay for. Huge thank you to our hostess for the invite, we had a great time here!

Los Lobos sits at the back of the ship next to Cagney’s, and is considered upscale Mexican. Jen’s a taco lover, and I’m always up for a good burrito, and Los Lobos didn’t disappoint. I started things with one of their signature drinks, the Luna Margarita, which was excellent! The Burrito Rojo (which I ordered with ground beef) was quite delicious as well, as was the queso we had to dip our chips in to start things off. Unfortunately, all I have pictures of here are the margarita and burrito, as we were focused on the food and discussions around the table, and I forgot to snap the room or appetizers. Oh well, next time! Here’s the menu for reference too. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, give Los Lobos a try!

Margaritaville

The final stop on our specialty dining tour was at Margaritaville. When we sailed the Escape in 2015, there was no additional charge for this venue, but that led to huge waits for seating, as mentioned in my past post. Shortly after that sailing, they instituted a small charge (compared to the cost of the other specialties) to eat here, $14.95/pp + 20% gratuity. We never noticed a wait or full seating here, so I’m not sure if the charge has taken things too far in the opposite direction, but we decided to eat here for lunch the day we were in Ensenada.

I tend to stick with the staples when we eat at Margaritaville, and this visit was no different, a Cheeseburger in Paradise followed by that signature Key Lime Pie for dessert (menu for reference). I also went with a watermelon margarita to drink, and while it was good, seemed a bit small for the price. I’ll also mention that this was the only venue we had service issues in. There were very few patrons in there while we ate, but our server still seemed overwhelmed, and things like refills proved fairly elusive. At one point we had to track down another server to get additional drinks, and later our bill. Questionable service aside, the food itself lived up to the Margaritaville name. I could really go for another slice of that key lime pie right about now!

That brings us to the end of our Norwegian Bliss specialty restaurant tour. With all of the paid restaurants we visited, we only ended up in the MDR one night, and while it was fine, I’d have been happy to visit any of the above venues again instead. Whatever your opinion of the specialty dining craze, I recommend giving any of these a try if you’re sailing a Norwegian ship that has them!

Credit to EatSleepCruise and CruiseCritic for the menu pictures I’ve been linking to.

 

 

MSC Divina: The Food!

We’re now on the last day of our current sailing on the Divina, and with some free time while we’re docked in Nassau, I figured it was time for an update! The past four days since my last post have been a whirlwind of fun, and being totally exhausted from it, I hope this post makes sense. This is the first time in four sailings on the Divina that we’ve done this itinerary, and even though we had fun on the previous three, it was, in some ways, a nice change of pace, but three back to back ports where we spent a lot of time in the sun has me a bit, well, off ;). I’ll save the port-specific stuff for a later post and focus this post on the food and dining service on board the ship this week.

When we sailed over Christmas in 2015 (our only other non-Yacht Club sailing), we were assigned to the Black Crab restaurant, and if you saw my recap post, it wasn’t the best experience. It felt too crowded, service was really slow, and the food was hit or miss. This time around, we’ve enjoyed the MDR experience so much more. We’re in Villa Rosa this time, and were assigned late dining. At first we considered requesting a change to early seating, but after our first meal decided we against that, as we really like our table staff, Erwin and Noel. They’ve done an awesome job all week, so I’m glad we chose to stick with the later seating even though we prefer to eat earlier. The food itself does seem better than last time, but still has hit or miss moments. Take last night for example (as seen below), the 90-day aged carpaccio was excellent, but the beef wellington was just okay, as it was a little tough for my liking. I’d say most of the nights have been like that, but I’d say that’s par for the course with the main dining room on any contemporary line. Feeding 4000 people isn’t an easy task, and frankly most of it’s been pretty good all things considered! I think the only real complaint would be from Jen. On the 2015 sailing, the tiramisu parade was followed by the waiters cutting slices from the ones they paraded around, and she absolutely loved that specific tiramisu. This time, you don’t get served from the paraded ones, you just get pre-sliced ones that she says aren’t nearly as good as the ones on that Christmas sailing, so Italian night was a letdown for her.

As mentioned in my first post, we also decided to try some of the specialty restaurants onboard this time. With the current dining plan pricing, it just seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. We chose the 3 meal plan at $50/pp, which gave us a night in Eataly Steakhouse, Galaxy Restaurant, and La Cantina di Bacco. The first two do require reservations, but having never seen either of them busy, we didn’t bother to get any reservations ahead of time. The plan was to check out the MDR menu each day and decide based on whether or not we wanted anything on that menu. The first night we ate in one ended up being the first formal night, and for that we went to the steakhouse. Beef? Yes please! On the dining plan, you get something off the appetizer or pasta menu, one entrée, and one dessert. As shown below, I went with beef carpaccio, filet mignon, and the bomboloni (donuts with ice cream). It was all very good!

Next on our specialty dining tour was Galaxy Restaurant. We did this after our stop in Cozumel, again because there was nothing on the MDR menu that really called out to us. We didn’t call for a reservation until after we got back on the ship, but were able to easily get a table at 7pm. Arriving at the restaurant, we were seated at a spot by the window with an amazing view, and given our Samsung tablet containing the menus (ordering from a Galaxy tablet in Galaxy restaurant, clever 😊). Now at this point the one annoyance of the evening hit, as it took almost 40 minutes for our server to take our order, which seemed odd considering there was only one other group in the place, but other than being slow, the experience in Galaxy was great.

On the dining plan, you get one thing from the appetizer menu, one from the pasta menu, an entrée, and a dessert, so one more course than we got in the steakhouse. I admit that going in I was a bit concerned about this one, as my daughter and I are picky eaters, and I having seen the menus ahead of time, I didn’t think there was anything on the appetizer menu we’d eat. I decided to put that aside and try something new, so for my starter, I went with the duck breast morsels. I’d never had duck before, and frankly I’m not a big fan of bird meat in general, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, it was absolutely delicious! The teriyaki sauce on it was excellent as well. For my pasta selection, I decided on the homemade tagliatelle, and the pork in it was cooked to an almost bacon-like consistency. If this dish was the only food I had in here, I’d have left stuffed and happy! For my entrée, the tournedos of Angus beef, which was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and on par with the filet I’d had at the steakhouse a few nights earlier. My final course was the moelleux au chocolat, basically molten chocolate cake in vanilla sauce. Amazing, absolutely amazing. The warm chocolate gushed out of the cake as soon as I cut the firstbite, and when combined with the vanilla sauce the taste was just perfect.

The entire meal was excellent and well worth the money in my opinion. I really don’t understand why the steakhouse and Galaxy restaurant aren’t busier, they’re both great!

For the final meal on the 3 night dining package, we had lunch at La Cantina di Bacco. We decided to go the lunch route specifically so we didn’t miss out on another evening in the MDR. In lieu of individual pizzas off the menu here, we chose to go with the meter of pizza. We’d done this once before and loved it, with it being my favorite of the three different pizza styles you can get on the ship. Keep in mind that this isn’t traditional pizza, and as such, more traditional American toppings like bacon or pepperoni aren’t available. For the meter of pizza, you can divide it up into 4 different sections, with different flavors on each. We ended up with prosciutto on two sections, one margherita section, and a four-cheese section. Each and every one was delicious!

The dining packages at current pricing definitely seem to be worth the money if you’re looking to try something outside of the normal main dining room. We all agree the food was excellent, and provided a nice smaller venue free from the noise of the MDR. The only exception was Galaxy, where people kept cutting through to get to the virtual world area, but even then, that was only a small distraction. Why more people aren’t giving the specialty restaurants a shot is beyond me.

Moving on, the buffet. This is one of the places where I immediately started missing Yacht Club. I’m a breakfast eater, and love grabbing some eggs, bacon, bread, etc, and finding a quiet spot with a view to enjoy the morning. Well, unless you get up early, that’s not a thing in this buffet. One of the key things I mentioned in the posts after our first sailing in 2015 was the layout. The way the room is set up, you can easily end up trapped behind slow moving people when moving between stations, or when looking for seating. It can be extremely frustrating trying to navigate the room during busy times, so if a crowded buffet isn’t your thing, go early or late. Exact times for that are hard to pin down, as it changes based on whether or not you’re in port, and I’m sure it changes with different passenger demographics. On the first sea day, I went up around 9am or so, and it was pretty busy. I didn’t even bother waiting for pancakes, as that station was just a sea of people. On port days? Yea, either go an hour before you dock, or some time after. In Ocho Rios I got up there about 15 minutes before we docked only to find all bread stations almost entirely empty. Now today, I waited until about 15 minutes after we docked and it was just fine. Plenty of food, and a small crowd since most of the ship was making their way into town by this point.

As far as quality of the food goes, I’d say it’s pretty standard buffet food. The scrambled eggs have been good, the pancakes, when I did make it there, were delicious, and the bread was pretty good. The one day I had bacon it was a little undercooked for my taste, but still had a good flavor. Then there’s the pizza. Ahh, the pizza. This was my first stop when we got on, and one I made almost every day at some point. I consider their pizza to be the best I’ve had at sea, and the buffet pizza is just as good as the meter of pizza we had at La Cantina di Bacco. If you only eat one thing off the buffet, make it the pizza!

I think that about covers it for the food this week. The very noticeable improvement in MDR service has been a welcome change from 2015 in our eyes, and we couldn’t be happier with our dining staff. Aside from that, I highly recommend trying the specialty restaurants when sailing the Divina, as they offer some delicious food in a smaller, quieter setting. If we have the opportunity to sail the Divina again, I’m planning to give the Italian venue a shot, as it was the only one we missed this time.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow morning we disembark and drive home, and while I am sad in a way, I’m also ready to rest for a few days. We’ve kept ourselves busy all week both on the ship and in port, and frankly I’m exhausted! Here’s hoping debark and the drive home are both uneventful tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

Five Delicious Eateries on the Norwegian Escape

The Norwegian Escape boasts 28 possible places to fill your belly as part of their whole Freestyle cruising setup. Being that there was no standard MDR with assigned dining times, we decided to give a few specialty restaurants a try, and pre-purchased the 3 meal dining package. Prior to this, I think we’ve only eaten in two or three specialties on all of our past cruises, so this was a big change for us. When it was all over, we hit 12 different restaurants over the course of this trip, including the free options and Supper Club.

We spent a bit of time trying to decide where to eat on the dining package, and after some back and forth finally settled on Teppanyaki, Moderno Churrascaria, and La Cucina. We set up reservations for all three ahead of time out of concern for seating availability once we got on board, as we only had certain nights available due to our conference schedule.

So how was the food? Honestly, it was all really good, which I wasn’t expecting. This is all going probably to come off sounding like I’m trying to suck up to NCL, but I mean every word of it. If we didn’t like something, I’d be more than happy to call it out, like I keep doing with the Supper Club. I truly left the ship amazed at how good these five restaurants were. Let’s take a quick look at the pay restaurants we ate at, in the order we dined there:

Teppanyaki: We love Japanese steakhouses. The ones we usually eat at are mostly chains (Kabutos, Nakato, Benihana), with our favorite being Kabutos. This blew those away. Absolutely delicious from start to finish. Service was great, the food was great, and our chef did an outstanding job. It really set the bar for the rest of the cruise in all apsects, as it was the first real meal we had on board. I had the filet and green tea cake. The fruit pic is my wife’s dessert, which the menu claimed to be exotic fruits. She liked it, but didn’t really feel it was all that exotic. Regardless, we left quite happy. One thing to note here, you never run out of rice. They cook enough for everyone to have at least two servings, so you can ask the chef at any time for more, as it’s sitting there on the grill staying warm throughout your meal. Another thing on the rice, they grill it up with garlic and butter, something we’ve never seen in this food genre. As my wife put it: I didn’t think fried rice could be improved, but I was wrong. The rice is amazing!

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Food Republic: We decided to eat here on a whim on night three. We hadn’t planned to pay for any food above the three we’d already booked, but it was well worth it. You order everything on an iPad at your table instead of the traditional server-based ordering, and the food itself was outstanding. Jen had chicken skewers and sushi (don’t recall specifics on that, unfortunately) and she really liked it. I had the 18oz Wagyu bone-in rib eye and it was some of the best meat I had all week, and was perfect with the chimichurri sauce that came on the side, although it stood on its own just fine too. As shown in the picture (which I wish was better quality), it arrived pre-cut, and every piece was perfectly cooked. If you only eat at one specialty on the Escape, this one should be at the top of your list. As shown, we had a window seat and ate as the sun set, which made the experience that much better.

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Cagney’s Steakhouse: Again, not on our original list, but we totally backed in to this one. Some friends or ours, also fellow agents, had been invited here by one of the NCL execs, Alex Pinelo, and they were able to invite two other couples along, with us being one of them, which we appreciated very much. We can’t thank him enough for the hospitality, and I have to say that the food, wine, and service was excellent! One of the best ship-board steakhouses we’ve eaten at, with our filet being perfectly cooked all the way through. Didn’t hurt that this happened on my birthday, so added bonus for me! We both had the baked potato soup and the 8oz filet. I had mac and cheese as my side (that was just okay) and the yummy chocolate cake for dessert, while Jen had the apple crisp. I think my only issue is how long it all took. Start to finish, I think we were there for more than two and a half hours, possibly three. I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth though, it was an excellent evening.

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Moderno Churrascaria: I love a good Brazilian steakhouse, so this was mostly my choice. Any place where people keep coming by my table with meat is good by me. I don’t remember a lot about the salad bar, other than there being plenty of choices, so I’ll go straight to the meat. My favorite was probably the signature steak, which if I recall was some sort of flank cut. Really, really good. The sausage was also a favorite of mine. Mmmmm. In addition to the signature, my wife’s other favorite was the grilled pineapple, which was also popular with both tables around us. The only filet I had was the well done one as it turned out, but by the time I realized it I was too full to try the medium version unfortunately. That was the only issue I had all night, and only an issue because I wasn’t paying attention when he said it was well done. All in all a really good night, and as usual I left the green button up way too long :). The plate of meat you see was shot right after I realized that and flipped the card to red. The dessert is a delicious cake they brought me for my birthday, which could easily have been shared with three to four people.

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La Cucina: We ate here on our last night, and scored a table outside. If the weather is right, this is definitely the way to go, the ambiance outside is outstanding. Eating a good meal out on a nice quiet deck at night? Yes please! We both had the meat lasagna, and agreed it was excellent. There’s a place near us (Arooji’s Wine Room) that has some of the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten, and La Cucina beat that. Hard to do, in my opinion.  I’d definitely eat here again, especially if we could sit outside. We both had the beef carpaccio in addition to the aforementioned lasagna. I had the chocolate torte for dessert, while Jen had the lemon curd ricotta cheesecake. That chocolate torte was super rich, but I powered through and finished it 🙂

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That about covers the pay restaurants we ate at. As mentioned in the last post, all of the other restaurants we ate at (Taste, Savor, Margaritaville, Manhattan Room, O’Sheehan’s, Garden Cafe buffet) were good too, with the notable exception of the disappointing food in the Supper Club for the Brat Pack show. We were very happy to see that Norwegian’s put some effort into improving the quality of the food on board, it’s definitely paying off. If anyone has specific questions on any of the dining venues we ate at, feel free to ask in the comments!

Full disclosure: I’m very much a meat and potatoes guy, and in no way claim to be a foodie, so YMMV 🙂

Hotel Review – Holiday Inn Laurel West

Once again, life gets in the way and causes me to write this up a lot later than I wanted to, but hey, at least it’s finally done 🙂

While on our last minute trip to D.C. two weekends ago, we spent a night at the Holiday Inn Laurel West. We had to book the night before, so there really wasn’t much time to do research, other than reading a few reviews on some of the travel sites. One other factor limiting our options was the presence of our dog, but fortunately this hotel was pet friendly. Unfortunately, that was one of a very small number of positives of the stay.

Driving up as late as we did on Saturday, and stopping in the city for dinner before going to the hotel, we were both pretty tired when we arrived. After checking in, we grabbed our suitcase and the dog and headed up. The lobby itself was fine, but as soon as we got past the main desk, we could see that the hotel was definitely under renovation, as a number of reviews we found online mentioned (apparently this hotel is being converted to a Doubletree). No biggie at that point, it wasn’t busy when we got there, so the fact that only one elevator was operational wasn’t an issue. Arriving at the room, we realized they’d given us the wrong room type. Instead of a single bed, we had two doubles. Too tired to deal with it, we pretty much just changed, chose our beds, flipped on the TV for a while to relax before going to sleep. It wasn’t until Sunday that we really got a look at the hotel itself. Before I get to that, I’ll mention my other main positive of the stay, the mattresses. Both were Tempurpedic, or had Tempur toppers on them, and we found them very comfortable. We have a knock-off version at home that we love, so it was nice to not have to switch between memory foam and spring, even just for the night.

Here are my initial shots of our room, which had not undergone any renovation yet. Sorry about the blurry desk/TV shot, I was tired:

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The next morning, Bayley and her boyfriend were set to come meet us at the hotel just before 11am, so we had a chance to take the dog out for a walk and check out the hotel. The renovation is real, as we saw all of the old furnishings from some rooms stored on the back side of the hotel as shown below. I’d have liked to see an updated room, but we just had to deal with ours, which really looked dated compared to other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at in the past. The inside of the hotel was more of the same. The hallways looked pretty run down, and as mentioned, only one elevator worked, so each time we went to use the elevator Sunday morning, we had to wait. One time we just gave up after watching two full elevators arrive, and took the stairs down. I never did get interior shots, other than the renovation sign, so here’s what I got outside:

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I can’t say how the cafe in the lobby or the steakhouse attached to the hotel were, as we didn’t use either, since both of our meals in D.C. were at the previously reviewed Scion Restaurant in DuPont Circle, but apparently the steakhouse, which is currently an All American Steakhouse and Sports Theater, used to be an Outback based on the signage in the hotel. No biggie, as I said, we didn’t eat at either place. We did notice that the breakfast buffet here, like other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at, isn’t free. Not a huge deal to us since neither of us are really breakfast eaters, but with all of the work going on, maybe make that free during renovations as a way to thank guests for choosing to stay.

I can’t really say anything else about the place, other than we likely wouldn’t stay again while it’s undergoing renovations. We’ve been pretty happy with other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at in the past, so this one was a bit disappointing. Overall thoughts:

Pros:

  • Comfortable Tempurpedic mattresses (or topper), at least to us
  • Clean room
  • Staff was friendly
  • dog friendly hotel
  • Stable (but slightly slow) internet access

Cons:

  • Obviously dated, both inside and out, but undergoing renovations
  • Only one working elevator, makes it hard to get in/out of the hotel during busy times like check-out
  • Paper thin walls, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Not long after we got there, some family that apparently had rooms on either side of the floor started running down the halls and talking loudly. Not quite sure why they felt why that was warranted at 11pm, but after a few minutes or so, it subsided.
  • Very few available outlets in the room (and none on the nightstand), and the ones that were available had loose plugs, making it hard to keep devices connected. Normally I carry two of my favorite little Belkin accessories with me to counter this, but being so short notice, I forgot to grab them.
  • No fridge or microwave.
  • The security/privacy lock on the door didn’t work. In fact the cutout in the metal plate (receiving side) wasn’t even close to lining up with the latch.

I think that about covers it. It served the purpose of a quick overnight stay, but if we’re able to make it back up for a longer trip near the end of summer, we’ll be looking elsewhere. Anomalies happen within any brand, and overall it doesn’t sour us against staying at other IHG properties in the future.