Coming from a Western European background, my family always made time for tea. Now, as a mother with a daughter who loves to drink tea, it’s always a special time to sit back with a cuppa and a snack and simply enjoy life. It’s especially enjoyable at Afternoon Tea at The Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C. Take a sip and enjoy the historical beauty of a much simpler time.
We never need a reason to visit Washington D.C. We’ll hop in the car and make the road trip any chance we get. There’s so much American history to take in, and with all of the city’s free museums and activities, it’s just an all-around family-friendly vacation. My teen daughter loves American history (I know, I’m one of the lucky ones) and devours it by reading books, watching movies, and of course, through what we love to call road school.
But there’s something about calling a piece of American history home for the night. And The Willard InterContinental is definitely a true piece of history.
So let’s talk about American history and The Willard. In its 150 years, the hotel has hosted almost every U.S. President since Franklin Pierce. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. actually finished his “I Have a Dream” speech while staying at the hotel. And Mark Twain wrote two of his books while a guest in the hotel.
Historical Beauty at The Willard InterContinental
That was exactly the feeling we got when we walked through the lobby doors. Its ceiling is flanked with 48 State seals. It’s super fun to go on a hunt for your state and makes a great occupier while waiting at the front desk. It’s even more fun to try to find the last two that aren’t on the ceiling.
The property is only two blocks away from The White House (so close, in fact, that my Instagram feed thought that’s where I was when I tried to post a photo!). It’s a 5-7 minute walk to the National Mall, and there’s several restaurants around including an in-house coffee shop, Lavazza, and two sit-down style restaurants, Cafe du Parc and Occidental Grill & Seafood. If you chose to only stay on property, it’s totally doable. As for parking, well, you’re in Washington D.C., so you can expect to pay a premium for valet. To valet our car with unlimited in and out privileges was $50 per night.
Strutting Our Stuff in Peacock Alley
And then there’s Peacock Alley. Named for the way the young ladies would get all gussied up and promenade through the long hallway trying to catch the eye of prominent guests and businessmen, Peacock Alley has the ambiance that it really hasn’t changed much since its beginning. The tables and soft couches and chairs make for the most perfect photos, so make sure to take a few minutes for a fun photo opp.
After a quick rest in Peacock Alley, we headed up the stairs to check out the in-house museum. Filled with the coolest artifacts including a bill from Abraham Lincoln, the small museum is a hoot to check out and gives not only highlights from the past two decades, but also insight into what a typical stay at The Willard was like.
Room with a View
While the three of us can certainly share two double beds, Mr. Locke and I are used to the luxury of our king bed. Truth? I feel squished in anything smaller, so we requested a king bed and a rollaway twin bed for our teen daughter. The rooms are beautifully decorated in dark reds, golds, and creams (again, there’s that feeling of regalness that’s so welcoming) and the dark furnishings blend well.
I must mention that there wasn’t a mini fridge in our room, but instead a minibar filled with small bottles of liquor and snacks. The cost is very high to purchase the mini bar items and there is a warning that you’ll be charged even if the contents are moved around (i.e. you want to add your own items) so steer clear of the mini bar and warn the kids. You are able to request a mini fridge if you need one. Just ask the front desk.
Our room’s view, even though it overlooked a side street, was still so beautiful. We could see the traffic and the gorgeous exterior details of the hotel and my daughter spend a ton of time sitting in the window taking it all in.
The Best Tea in D.C.
Afternoon Tea in Peacock Alley is a must when you visit, no matter how old the kids are. Priding itself as the “Best Afternoon Tea in Washington D.C.”, it’s truly an experience and not just a hot beverage. Reservations are highly recommended as the tea is super popular and sells out very quickly, especially during the summer months and on holidays.
We were able to choose from quite a sizeable menu of tea styles. Since at this point I cannot do caffeine in the afternoons, I was loving the fact that they offered caffeine free options including my choice, Fruity Chamomile. The Kid, however, has no problem with caffeine and chose The Willard Custom Blend- Japan Kirsch. Both smelled and tasted lovely and were accompanied by a three-tiered tray of finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries with all of the necessary creams and sauces.
Starting from the bottom tier and working our way up, the three-bite sandwiches were filled with delicious ingredients including seared tuna, smoked salmon, and chicken salad. Second tier? The best scones, both sweet and savory, and small bowls of Ginger Devonshire Cream and Lemon Curd. Saving the pastries for last, we enjoyed trifles, tartlet, and mini cheesecakes. There’s definitely enough food during The Willard’s Afternoon Tea to make a meal, and honestly, we were stuffed. So stuffed, in fact, that our waitress gave us a to-go container to hold the extras.
In a Nutshell
We has such a beautiful visit to The Willard that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to families with children of all ages. Yes, the feel is traditionally upscale but not once did it feel stuffy. The staff were so pleasant and friendly, and our room was so lovely that I’m already missing that view.