I am only docking Lorien one star. They went so above and beyond in every other respect that I'd feel ungrateful if I left a lower rating. (Please note this review is for the hotel only, as I did not utilize the spa.)
First, the PROS:
- Efficient and friendly valet service (which I got for $1 more thanks to the AAA discount) with easy come-and-go privileges.
- Efficient and friendly staff. Everyone in the building greeted us with a smile and an offer to help at all times. No snootiness whatsoever. I greatly appreciated this warmth, which came across as genuine and not forced. Too many upscale hotels' come with a detached, aloof, at times almost chilly staff, which is antithetical to the purpose of an upscale hotel (or any hotel, for that matter).
- I love that they're associated with Brabo. This made dining options (such as breakfast at the Brabo Tasting Room next door) simple. Eat breakfast at the Brabo Tasting Room!
- If you're a AAA or Klimpton InTouch member, there is a complementary wine reception from 5-6pm. Although it's a simple choice of red or white (they offer one of each), they do pour you a VERY full glass. The wine quality is top notch. I'm more of a red drinker, so I chose that night's Cabernet Sauvignon from a Washington state vineyard. I was impressed by how smooth, full and velvety rich it was. Not a junk wine. For a complementary glass of wine, Lorien is not tossing about small amounts of the cheap stuff. Bravo!
- The "dream menu", which includes a menu of pillows (choices include a Japanese buckwheat pillow, water pillow, body pillow, etc) is not only fun but has the benefit of including but pay-for and complementary items! The pillows are complementary, unless you want to take them home. I went with the buckwheat pillow. My neck's never had a better night's sleep.
- Excellent quality mattress and down-feather comforter. Between that and the buckwheat pillow, I slept without interruption and felt 100% renewed in the morning - even after a night of heavy Spanish tapas and red wine downtown!
- There are complementary morning tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lobby, as well as chocolate/candied nibbles.
- Beautiful decorative choices and color scheme (shades of cream and light blue are very calming). HOWEVER, see my notes regarding the state of the decor/furniture in the "cons" section of my review.
- Quiet. Never heard any noise from neighbors, either through the walls or in the hallways. No street traffic, either, which was the one benefit of having a not-great room view.
- Walk out the door and you're in downtown Alexandria. Goes without saying: fantastic!
- Lovely minibar choices. Pricey, but that's a minibar for you. It helped that we got a $10 "raid the bar" credit for being InTouch members. They've got everything from a 'lover's kit' with miniature sex toys (if you feel like dropping $25, otherwise bring your own); to luxury toiletries including dental and shaving products; to mixed nuts, energy bars, and miniature bottles of wine and scotch. There was even a bottle of craft Pale Ale.
- When I informed the hotel staff at departure of the CONS noted below, they apologized profusely, took written note of each complaint, and immediately offered $30 off my bill. This was VERY prompt and professional and is another reason I am giving them four stars as opposed to three or less. Again, a terrific staff who takes the quality of your experience seriously.
- The "dream menu" isn't available anywhere in the hotel room's guides. It's not even on their television "guest services" channel. If you don't know about the dream menu when you get there, chances are you won't be reminded. I dialed the 'dream' button on the hotel phone and they informed me I can only review the menu via internet. Not a big deal, but this makes no sense to me. I think they need to print a copy for the room. Why not, if they already have a print copy of the room service (dining) menu in the room? If you're going to offer tons of great accommodations, please be assertive about it - not coy!
- They offer an outdoor fire pit accessible via the lobby. We were unable to use it the night we stayed because of a private party. I know, boo hoo. Still, a small disappointment since the fire pit area was heavily promoted by the hotel's website as part of its many luxuries to enjoy during the wine reception.
- Not all room views are great. Mine (on the fourth floor) looked out over an unglamorous parking lot, as opposed to the more attractive brick terrace. Oh well.
- The King Deluxe Room could be just a tad wider, to allow more space between the end of the bed and the desk. The bed and desk are cramped despite the rest of the room having adequate space.
- I was shocked by the amount of wear and tear to the property. In the lobby/common lounge area alone, I observed a couch with its seams falling apart. Worse yet, significant fraying to the face and edges of two couch pillows. It looked like the couch had been mangled and neglected for years. Not noticeable from a distance, but an embarrassment as soon as you view it up close.
- The bathroom towels are rough to the touch. They feel like they've been laundered ad nauseam with the cheapest bleach before being left to dry on the back of a rock under the blistering sun.
- Same 'roughness' issue with the bathroom robes, AND one of the robes also had a hole in the shoulder seam (see photo). Ugh.
- The leather desk chair had unsightly wear and tear, obviously from repeated "banging" against the edge of the desk (see photo). You could tell they had tried to address this by placing a plastic strip over the granite desk top, but never bothered to reupholster the chair. It just looked nasty. Something I'd expect at a Motel 6.
- There was a small brown stain on the wedge pillow we ordered from the dream menu (see photo).
- No ventilation fan in the bathroom. They make up for this by using a sliding glass door that leaves a small gap to release the steam, but this doesn't address the fact that 1) the mirrors still get steamy, 2) the steam has to go somewhere, which means the rest of the hotel room - ick, and 3) ventilation is also necessary to keeping the bathroom an odor free zone. I found this lack of ventilation a bit disturbing since it's integral to the reduction of both odors and mold. It's a sanitation issue above all else.
- The only staff issue I had was that when I ordered the pillows from the dream menu, I also requested a complementary reed diffuser. They forgot to bring up the reed diffuser. I didn't bother to complain or follow up on it, though, since it's hardly the end of the world. But it would have been nice to get my order right. :-) I would have mentioned it when the front desk asked about my stay but forgot.
In the end, would I go back to Lorien? Most likely. I just hope they take the issues with the furniture/linens wear-and-tear to heart and get those items repaired. It just looks bad (and confusing) for a hotel of otherwise magnificent quality to have pillows, couches, chairs and towels/linens that are stained or falling apart.
Again, see my photos documenting the poor condition of the furniture/linens.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Centrally located in Old Town Alexandria, our luxury boutique hotel is a collaborative dream. Renowned interior designer Vicente Wolf created a space that is reflective of the past and grounded in modern sensibilities. Combined with the stylish calm of our spa, our destination restaurant, BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier, a striking environment and the amenities expected of a Kimpton Hotel, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa unites the elegance of yesteryear with the comforts of modern-day living. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lorien Hotel Kimpton