When I put my entry forward to secure a place on the United Airlines Washington trip I didn’t really think that I would get a place, so put it out of my mind. When I was offered the chance to go my initial reaction was that it would be a great opportunity to sample the airline first hand for many of my business travel clients. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much I was going to enjoy the trip and indeed, the city of Washington!
I don’t know whether this would be the same for most people – but my impression of Washington was a political, sombre city where the President made all the important big decisions. A little naïve I know but that’s what I thought! Oh and the only other thing was recognising the museums from “Night at the Museum” – watched so many times with my children!
I was impressed with United Airlines, especially the flight going out due to the plane type we had and the Star Alliance lounge at Heathrow T1 which was large with plenty of seats. We were in Economy Plus which had extra leg room which is excellent value for the difference in cost - I was able to cross my legs and my knee didn’t quite touch the table when it was down!
On arrival at Dulles Airport we had our transfer into the city taking about 45 mins. I had researched a little about our hotel – Capella Washington DC – before departing but I was blown away when we arrived. A very small, almost ordinary hotel from the outside but once inside it was fantastic! There is no reception but a private lounge area accessed only by key cards, where you can relax and sit in comfort to check in with a glass of something delectable! We all experienced different room types so it was great to see the options available. All rooms were well equipped, modern and spacious with wonderful solid furniture and key pieces of décor. We were treated to the private dining room – a glass walled room in the restaurant – for a sumptuous meal and drinks followed by a peak at the roof top terrace with infinity plunge pool – if only I had brought my swimmers!!
Our only full day was jam packed which started with a bike tour of the memorials. Well, I was looking forward to this a little anyway but it was by far one of the best things I have done on a trip! Highly recommendable and I could have cycled around all day rather than just the 3 hour tour. Our guide was brilliant, knowledgeable and very friendly. We cycled to all the famous memorial areas and had time in each before finishing at the White House. It was great fun and not overly energetic either! In the afternoon we visited one of the museums called the Newseum which is an interactive museum of news and journalism, it was varied and interesting especially if you are into “the news”.
The city itself was not what I imagined it to be, it is very open and clean with many green parks and areas, plus it is very easy to get around on bus, bike or foot. There is a lot of political history as you would expect but the buildings were almost reminiscent of the City of London and overall it had a very different feel to it than most other US cities I have visited. The choice of museums is incredible and the green areas are filled with various memorials all of which are very impressive.
The suburb in which we stayed had a lovely village feel to it and all the people we came across were really friendly. I had time on the Sunday to explore – mainly for shopping – but it was surprisingly characteristic with lots of independent shops and no mall in sight! It was lovely to walk around and it actually felt very similar to a British high street!
Wonderful Washington - there was so much to do and see you could easily spend a week there. The bike tour was the highlight for me but there are so many museums to see, places of interest and lovely walks, not to mention the areas outside the city which are easily accessible. All in all – a fabulous city and I would definitely visit again!