Believe me, this is not a full of sunshine blog post, about to tell you that everything is alright out there, because it's not. But I took the decision this week to actually go and experience a luxury hotel in the current climate, in order to report back to you honestly on what to expect if you are thinking you'd like to get out of the home. To be frank, I also just needed a night off from the family. I think that's OK. I took serious precautions, always wearing my mask in public and ensuring I had no close human contact at all (wow, what a sad line to write).
So here's how my stay at the Ritz Carlton Charlotte turned out, and I'm going to rank 5 different elements of the experience.
My 5 Ratings of the Ritz Carlton Charlotte
Booking Process and Confirmation
If I'm going to book a luxury hotel during Covid, I want to know what the heck is open and closed, and what steps are being taken on site to protect my safety. Now, I can of course call in and hope to speak with someone who knows all this, but I would also expect that the hotel's own website would at least mention some of this detail. Nope. Well how about the booking confirmation and follow up "Plan your Stay" email? (above). Surely these will give me some information? Nope. Any mention of Covid just sends you to the generic Marriott information page. So I was looking at rating this as an F (Fail). However, about 10 minutes before I was planning on making contact with the hotel myself, the front desk called me and went through everything I wanted to know (details to emerge below), raising this grade to a C+.
Now if you are working with a travel advisor, they are going to do this work for you. They will call the hotel and work out exactly what is available, possible etc.
So any F immediately becomes an A!
There are no doormen working currently (above) and so no-one to greet you until you actually make it to the front desk. The two staff on duty were warm and informative throughout the quick check-in process, both wearing masks themselves and behind a plexi-glass barrier. With current occupancy levels, complimentary upgrades are more likely to be forthcoming, and I was moved to a high floor Luxury King from my original 2 x Queen lower floor reservation. In a quick chat I asked about occupancy levels. They had 20 rooms checking in the same day as me, which is about as high as it has got since reopening.
The Room (photos above & below)
Spotlessly clean throughout, this room was way more sanitary than home! On the desk a PPE Welcome Kit was to be found: a good touch, if not a particularly happy one.
The sheets felt brand new on one of those beds you really don't want to ever emerge from.
With no public bar currently open on the premises, it appeared to me that Ritz Carlton have hugely upgraded the in-room minibar to an open bar.
A little dangerous perhaps, especially with some really attractive looking bottled cocktails, including Mai Tais, Cosmopolitans and Old Fashioneds. The refrigerator was crammed full also with beer etc. No price list to be found anywhere, I presume removed with all other printed materials. Cheers.
Rating: A for Dinner, C+ overall as no other options
Breakfast is not currently offered on site, and there is no room service, which even in the dramatic circumstances we find ourselves, surprised me a little. At check in they did inform me that they are hoping for city approval on room service procedures soon. So the only food/drink available are in the main restaurant BLT Steak (above and below) and for dinner only. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte anyway, and my meal served to confirm this. Those scallops were divine and the famous BLT popover mopped up the sauce brilliantly.
The menu is not printed, and is viewed by scanning the QR code provided. The service was also outstanding although with only 2 other diners while I was present, I wouldn't have expected anything less.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat for the odd one or two night stay, but this may be down to just breaking up the current routine which of course has revolved around home for many months now.
The positives - luxurious rooms, exceptional dinner experience and service all round. Calm, private and felt extremely safe.
The negatives - spa only opens this weekend for the first time with a limited menu.
Rooftop pool also awaiting approval to reopen. No breakfast option currently. The K Lounge (below) which I love for cocktails is also still closed.
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