Pros: Free Internet, kind staff, good government rate, well appointed.
Cons: Older property, disposable dishes, poorly prepared grits, Pizza Hut, weird location.
My husband Bill and I just spent five nights at the Embassy Suites in Williamsburg, Virginia. Bill was in Williamsburg on business and I tagged along because I happen to be from the Williamsburg/Hampton Roads area and going with Bill made it easy for me to visit my parents as well as hit the outlet stores to prepare for our upcoming trip to Scotland. Last month, Bill and other people who work with him stayed at the newer Embassy Suites in Hampton, Virginia. Hampton is not as close to Fort Eustis as Williamsburg is, which is why we got different digs this time. I was cool with it, since it would give me a chance to write another travel review.
It was interesting to stay at the Embassy Suites in Williamsburg having so recently stayed at the one in Hampton. While the Williamsburg Embassy Suites-- like all Embassy Suites-- offers a bedroom and a sitting room as well as other business minded amenities, I could tell that the Williamsburg Embassy Suites served a different clientele than the Hampton Embassy Suites does. It seems to cater a lot more to families on vacation than business travelers. Consequently, not only is the rack rate higher, the Williamsburg Embassy Suites is also not as nice. However, when my husband called last week to ask if he could book our room for one extra night on our dime, the receptionist at the Embassy Suites was kind enough to give us the super cheap government rate of $96. The published rack rate was quite a bit higher than that.
The Embassy Suites in Williamsburg is located right behind a K-Mart. Having grown up near Williamsburg, I knew exactly where that K-Mart was, since it's been there for many years. I did not, however, realize that there was an Embassy Suites next door! The location near K-Mart, a mini golf course, and several restaurants was very convenient.
We were warmly greeted when we checked in. The friendly receptionist gave us a bag with two complimentary waters and a magazine about the attractions in Williamsburg. The Embassy Suites in Williamsburg consists of five floors situated in a plaza configuration. We were assigned to room 400. When we first arrived, our key cards didn't work. Bill had to take one of the very slow elevators back to the lobby to get the cards fixed.
When we walked into the room, I noticed that it was configured differently than most Embassy Suites are. The bathroom was located immediately to the right; one has to walk through the sitting room to get to it. This was not a problem for us, since it was just the two of us staying. Had there been someone using the pull out couch in the sitting room, it might have been more of an issue.
The bathroom was appointed with a tub/shower combination and Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries. There was an ironing board, iron and hairdryer. I liked the light in the shower that could be turned on separately from the overhead light. We had plenty of sparkling clean towels.
The sitting room
Aside from the pull out couch-- which wasn't all that comfortable to sit on, by the way-- there was an upholstered chair, a flatscreen television, a table and chairs, a microwave, coffee set up, and refrigerator. There was also a small sink. We used the refrigerator to store restaurant leftovers, drinks, and some tomatoes I had harvested to give to my mom. Unfortunately, the refrigerator was set very cold and my tomatoes froze! So did one of the complimentary waters. The sitting room was not appointed with silverware or plates, so we had to borrow one at breakfast so I could microwave some leftover food that came in a metal container.
The bedroom was a bit small, but had an armoire, vanity, flatscreen television, and a king sized bed. The bed had six square pillows that were filled with down. I didn't think the bed was very comfortable, but I still managed to get a pretty good night's sleep. The air conditioning worked very well and we had great blackout curtains which were necessary, since the Embassy Suites sign was lit right outside our window, which had a view of the back of the aforementioned K-Mart.
Breakfast and other culinary "delights"
Embassy Suites come with a free hot breakfast served buffet style. There's a cook who will make omelets to order. I don't really like omelets, so I did not partake. Every day, the same foods were available: fresh whole apples and oranges, pre-wrapped and unwrapped muffins and danishes, bagels, breads, grits, oatmeal, cereals, yogurts, scrambled eggs, homefries, pancakes, sausages, and bacon. There was also juice, milk, and coffee available. With all of that selection, you'd think I'd be delighted with breakfast, right? Guess again.
My first gripe has to do with the plates and silverware. Embassy Suites Williamsburg does not have real china. Instead, you get a depressing plastic plate and very cheap silverware. You put the plate and the silverware on your tray, like you're at prison or summer camp. There are no glasses or even plastic cups for your juice. Instead, you get disposable plastic cups, bowls, and mini plates. The disposable cups, plates, and bowls did not leave me with a very good impression.
My next gripe has to do with the grits. You see, I am a southern girl, and I love my grits. And you would think in a southern town like Williamsburg, Virginia, someone would know how to make grits properly. At the very least, you might expect that they'd know they have to salt the water before they make the grits. Alas, no one at the Embassy Suites in Williamsburg got the memo. And they'd serve the bland grits full of lumps. It would grow sticky and half congealed; the consistency was too thick. Despite that, I'd still eat them each day because they were more appetizing than the rubbery scrambled eggs on offer every morning.
My final gripe has to do with the juice and coffee. The orange juice was really dreadful. It tasted like it was loaded with sugar. I switched to cranberry juice, which was marginally better. The coffee was equally wretched. Embassy Suites has a machine that offers milk or half and half. The one day I got coffee, I ended up with flavored non-dairy creamer instead of the half and half I was expecting.
The bacon and sausage was pretty good. I also liked the fresh pineapple that was offered every day. I did not try the pancakes because I'm really picky about pancakes. You'd never know that to look at me.
Embassy Suites offers a manager's reception every evening between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. Basically, that means you can get complimentary well drinks, wine, and beer, though the barkeeps would appreciate any tips you send their way. Bill and I attended the manager's reception twice. Again, the drinks were served in dinky disposable plastic cups instead of actual glasses. Maybe I shouldn't complain, since the drinks were free, but other Embassy Suites I've stayed in used actual glasses. I think that would be a lot classier... besides, who wants to drink an eight ounce cup of beer? That barely allows for a head.
Embassy Suites Williamsburg has a small restaurant called The Atrium. I can't comment on it because we didn't eat there. I didn't see a lot of people in the restaurant. Given that there are so many places to eat in Williamsburg, I kind of think the restaurant was a bit superfluous. In any case, it handles room service orders and serves casual fare, most notably Pizza Hut pizza. I used to love Pizza Hut, but it went downhill at some point twenty years ago, so I couldn't get excited about trying The Atrium.
Embassy Suites Williamsburg offers a business center, exercise room, and an indoor pool. We had no need for the business center, since we both brought iPads. One great thing about this particular Embassy Suites is that it offers free Internet. That was a definite plus.
Bill used the tiny exercise room, which has two treadmills, free weights, an elliptical, and a bike. There were a lot of military folks staying at the Embassy Suites, so there was some competition for the machines! I used the kidney shaped pool twice. It was clean and well stocked with towels. A small hot tub is directly adjacent to the pool, but it was very hot in the pool area so the hot tub wasn't all that enticing. Sun loungers were available outdoors in a small enclosed area just outside the pool area.
The Embassy Suites in Williamsburg has a friendly staff who mostly seemed very competent. I will note, however, that our room was not very thoroughly cleaned. The furniture appeared to need a good dusting and the floor could have used a more thorough vacuuming. One of Bill's co-workers had an issue with his room because a pipe in the room next to his burst. Consequently, his sitting room ended up being flooded.
We got USA Today delivered to our room daily, which was very nice.
There's annoying Muzak and it's loud, especially in the elevator.
The two elevators are very slow!
Parking is free and extremely plentiful. I noticed the lot closest to the K-Mart was mostly empty most of the nights we were there.
You can purchase tickets for Water Country USA or Busch Gardens at the Embassy Suites. As I spent four years working at Busch Gardens, I had no need to take a trip there! A trip to Water Country USA might have been nice, though.
There is a tiny gift shop next to the reception desk. However, since K-Mart is right next door, I can't see how anyone would use it except in cases of extreme laziness.
Although I appreciated the efforts of the staff at Embassy Suites Williamsburg, I can't help but compare it somewhat unfavorably to other Embassy Suites I've stayed in. Aside from being an older property that shows its age, it's in kind of a weird location. And the plasticware at breakfast was a huge turn off for me. While I like the city of Williamsburg much better than Hampton, I found myself missing the Hampton Embassy Suites' much posher and more convenient set up. While we appreciated the free Internet and extra day at the government rate, I truly believe this property rates a solid three stars. So that's my rating; and while I could recommend this hotel, I personally would probably opt to stay somewhere else, given the choice.