Where: Hotel Monaco Alexandria, 480 King St., Alexandria
When: Friday, March 14, 6:30 to 9 PM (or until checkout time the next day, if you were a guest invited to stay the night)
Scene: In the lobby, guests received a map headed “Pursuit of Fun.” The pursuit: Visit each room with a theme based on a different city or country, receive a sticker for each (eight stickers in all), then head to the final room to collect your treasure. Treasure? Really? Actually, yes—the prize ended up being a coupon for a free night’s stay in the hotel, valid all spring and summer and even on weekends. With regular rooms running as high as $509 a night, that’s almost as good as a chest of gold coins.
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Who: Everyone from Alexandria mayor Bill Euille and various Kimpton execs, who showed up promptly at 5:15 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, to a family of four, who were perhaps the most into the map-stickering quest. Despite the red carpet out front, it was unclear if the event was actually invitation-only.
Dress: The invitation called for “festive business attire,” which apparently can mean suits and sparkly dresses, slacks and dressy shirts, or jeans.
Food: We tried carved ham and buttermilk biscuits in Jackson 20, the hotel’s restaurant that became “the Americas” for the evening; spicy chorizo, fried calamari, and bacon-wrapped shrimp in Barcelona; buttery croissants and an array of cheeses in Paris; California and eel rolls in Tokyo; pita and hummus in Athens; shrimp skewers in Sydney; and fresh fruit in the Pacific Ocean (the pool room, of course). Trick: End up in the elevator with a caterer carrying the dessert tray, and you get first grab at the truffles and pecan squares headed to the fifth-floor Monaco room.
Drink: Drinks included sangría in the Barcelona room, sparkling wine in Bombay (shouldn’t it have been Mumbai?), ouzo in Athens, saketinis in Tokyo, beer in Sydney, pineapple and berry smoothies in the Pacific Ocean, and wine everywhere.
The hotel: A regular room comes with a well-stocked minibar (including Kettle chips, wine, and a mysterious “intimacy kit”), a 37-inch flat-screen TV, and the biggest bed I’ve ever slept in. More expensive rooms have lofts, extra-high showers and sinks for tall travelers, or even a living room and wet bar. The best perk, though, is the closets stocked with robes in various animal prints. Taking one adds $120 to your room charge—but depending on what you’re already paying for the room (prices range from $219 to $1,599 a night), it may be worth it.
Boldface names: 2 out of 5
Swankiness: 3 out of 5
Food and drink: 3 out of 5
Exclusivity: 1 out of 5
Total score: 9 out of 20