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December 15, 2009

Terrible service at Aloft's w xyz bar

aloft's w xyz barIn the four odd years I've been writing about nightlife, I've seen my share of bad bartenders.

But a night at Aloft Hotel's w xyz bar in the National Harbor was one of the worst. I'd completely forgotten about my time at the bar until a PR rep for Aloft e-mailed me today with a press release about the place.

This past summer, some friends and I went to a wedding near the National Harbor, and we stayed at Aloft. It's a nice hotel.

After the wedding, we went to the hotel bar, w xyz, for a drink.

I'm always on the lookout for great new bars, and w xyz looked pretty chic. The bar was back lit, and we plopped down in cushioned corner seats ...

I walked up the bar, waited for a while in line and ordered two Bombay and tonics. The bartender asked me to get out my ID, but before I could hand it over the bartender walked away and started serving other people. I was miffed ...

Everyone else who was standing in line at the bar got drinks -- even the people behind me. After about 10 minutes, when there was no one else left to serve, the bartender came back to me and asked "What did you want again?"

I got my drinks but didn't leave a tip.

That, I think, was the last time I'll have a drink at the w xyz bar.

(Photo by me)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:56 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


The worst for me was Talara. I was the only one at the bar and the bartender had to ask me three times what I ordered. I finally showed him the menu and pointed to the wine I wanted.

I can only hope he was on drugs, because I would hate to think God made someone that stupid.

Talara is the definition of over-engineered, "Bad Trendy". The decor of the place is pretty awful, and I'm pretty sure most of the bartenders are on something. If it makes you feel any better, my friend and I were sitting AT THE BAR and it took us 10 minutes to get a drink each time. Teach your bartenders to acknowledge patrons or happy trails. Much to your chagrin, Talara, we are not in LA.

My worst bar experience

(you don't have to post but it's a funny story)

Sadly, Baltimore has had some of the worst service bartending wise I've ever seen anywhere.

I've always had pretty good service in and around Baltimore except for one local place where the bartender was a complete [dummy]. I was there during the week and the bar wasn't busy at all. I asked if he had a certain beer on draft, and he didn't. Well I didn't hear him for whatever reason so I asked again. His reply this time was "Do you need me to write it down or something?" Not to mention the food was ok at best. No plans on returning there anytime soon.

Ooo! Lousy service stories? I may have linked to this before, but here's my worst...not in often-bad Baltimore, but in D.C. no less.

I think there's an inverse relationship between trendy and good service. I find you get the best service in a dive or at least a neighborhood place.

James Joyce is pretty bad too, but it's not the bartender's fault. Who ever designed the bar put partitions about every 6 feet. There is no way for the bartender to see you or see if your drink is empty unless he is right in front of you.

[Barry Glazer word] poor design.

This bar is a joke. Alot of these sacrifice service for decor or the ultra-trend experience. Your nice. If he had of did that to me I would have ordered 2 expensive drinks then after he made them I would have told time I no longer want them and walked away.

I can attest to this. My gf and I were staying at Aloft with Sam and Amie on the night in question. I highly recommend the hotel for anyone staying in the National Harbor, it was awesome. The bar was another story. Also, the clientele were questionable at best.

I have somehow gotten the impression that "trendy" became synonymous with "bad service." In part, it's the fact that "trendy" and "hot" places are often overcrowded during the initial "honeymoon" period, and because of the mobs the bartenders can get away with worse service. Then there's that "we're better than you" snootiness that seems to be somehow part of the whole "trendy" vibe. Sure, like I'm paying to get disrespected or ignored, right--but somehow I see hipsters suckered into that meme. Haven't a clue why.

Why do people think that a hotel bar in a recently made-up, middle-of-nowhere place like "National Harbor", would be anything except crap?

And on top of that - a wedding? Puh-leeze!


Please allow me to apologize on behalf of myself and the Aloft/Wxyz team. This level of service certainly is not accepted at Wxyz and will be addressed to our current bartending team.

I understand that your experience occurred this past summer. We have been working very hard over the past couple of months to ensure that the bar staff is exceeding our guest expectations. I would love to invite you back to Wxyz so we may provide you and your guests with the level of service you rightly expect from a Starwood property.

Please feel free to contact me at or 301-749-9000

Nichole Benolken
General Manager
Aloft Washington National Harbor

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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