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Unhappy Hour – The Embassy Suites Evening Reception Hits Rock Bottom

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Embassy Suites Evening Reception

Embassy Suites Evening Reception

I’m a pretty nostalgic guy.  I love old hotels, some motels, 80’s music, compact discs, t-shirts I’ve had since college – the list goes on.  Not surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed various hotel happy hours for years, including the Embassy Suites Evening Reception.  I’ve also noticed it’s gotten worse over the years.  But the reception during our recent stay at the new Embassy Suites Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort took things to a surprisingly low level.  Like breakfast in many limited service hotels, I left the reception wondering if it’s worth ever visiting again.  With what I experienced, why even bother?

A Lame Beverage Situation

The reception offered mixed drinks with Amway-like liquor, two extremely basic beer options, and wine commonly associated boxes.  I’ve noticed a degraded beverage selection over the years at Embassy Suites, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen.  I’m not including a photo of any drinks in this article as this would just be a waste of space and everyone’s time.

What stood out even more was the drink limit.  Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but when did Embassy Suites start limiting an individual to two complimentary drinks over the entire reception?  But perhaps they’re doing us all a favor with this limit, considering the unsatisfactory beverage selection.

Embassy Suites Evening Reception

Laughable Food Options

About five minutes into the reception, I noticed two individuals wheel out the table of hors d’oeuvres.  A few things here.  Any time food comes out on a wheeled table, that’s a warning sign.  Second, the offering was depressing.  I imagine everything came from a plastic bag or bottle.  Here’s a summary of the spread: pretzel mix, potato chips, raw veggies, cheese, crackers, and ranch- and hummus-looking dips.  I didn’t bother with anything.

I’m not the type who looks for lounges or reception fare to replace a meal.  But geez, at least act like you care, Embassy Suites.

Inadequate Staffing

Only one bartender was serving drinks for most of the reception, leading to college kegger-like queues.  Someone else showed up to help toward the end, but too little, too late.  I enjoyed watching the show – how long will one wait for a low-rent, “free” drink?  If this is the highlight of the reception for me, I know I should be elsewhere.

Embassy Suites Evening Reception

The Moldy Cherry On Top

I must share one last interaction which appropriately capped my experience.  The back of the drink card reads, “Ask your server or bartender about upgraded drink options!”  Curious, I asked how much it was to upgrade to a Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager from Bud.  The nice but hamstrung bartender sheepishly replied, “the full price of that beer.”  I thought to myself that the card should more accurately state, “Ask your server or bartender for full price drinks instead of free ones!”

Embassy Suites Evening Reception – Conclusion

Before my brief Embassy Suites Evening Reception visit, I visited a bar at the Cavalier next door.  I should’ve stayed there.  I came out feeling I was the doofus taking the “free” instead.  Beyond the view, which I got at breakfast anyway, there’s nothing special about this reception.  I bet others there don’t feel similarly duped or even care.  Juxtaposed against a new, attractive property, this terrible experience stuck out even more.  I can only imagine how depressing the evening reception has gotten at the old, atrium-style Embassy Suites.  Let’s raise a glass to me never finding out.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. The bartender did not have enough help. Where ya been. Everyone’s hiring and the highlight was watching someone wait in line for low rent drinks? A bit condescending I myself don’t enjoy others waiting in lines but that’s the nature of today on occasion.

  2. Benji. At least u got some cheese with your whine. Now u know u don’t have to stay at ES hotels. I missed it why were u unhappy with the breakfast.

  3. Well, it has to be better than the “Element from Westin.” Their food doesn’t even come up to this. For breakfast they had a “muffin” which looked like a reject from mcdonalds, a bagel which may have been edible if cooked and “scrambled eggs” which appeared mostly yellow anyway. The evening reception was an empty coffee pot that they didn’t even fill overnight. What a joke.

  4. Thanks, Benjy, and everyone for your comments –
    We had a most enjoyable stay at the Embassy Suites Times Square (2019, pre-pandemic, of course!), and were planning to return this summer. Has anyone stayed there recently?

  5. I stay at SFO Embassy often. The first time I went down to the ‘manager’s reception’ I couldn’t believe they would set out some salty things from a bag and call them reception treats. The wine, of course, was from a box, and there are no cocktails at all. I check back once in a while, and nothing has improved. I’d be embarrassed to call this meagre offering a reception. I do understand the two-drink max, tho; people are just piggy about that stuff. I stay there because it’s on SF Bay and I can leave the sliding door open for fresh air. Breakfast used to be wonderful, haven’t tried it for a good long while, usually have a very early flight. I’m a serious Hiiton loyalist, but there doesn’t seem to be much improvement from the virus disaster experiences, so I’m keeping an eye on it all. No sense being loyal to an entity who doesn’t care about me.

    • I can’t help but think it’s now called the “Evening Reception” so managers won’t be blamed for it.

  6. These are the reasons why I did not stay at Embassy Suites for a while (HH Diamond with ca 700 lifetime miles). However, one of my colleagues stayed at Embassy Suites in Washington DC near Convention Center and also told me about two drink limit. I wonder whether this is the new norm @Embassy in USA. I am staying with Hyatt nowadays.

  7. I agree 100%. I am a Lifetime Diamond and have stayed at Hiltons for 25 years. After Covid everything took a nose dive. Especially Embassy Suites and don’t get me going on Homewood Suites(what do you mean no nightly food and beverage, Oh its now only on Wednesdays). I am jealous at the major food selection you had. In recent stays I had peanuts and a tiny cup to put them in. And don’t even start on the 2 drink maximum. For the price they charge I would expect them to serve up the wine and beer they used too. Even more disappointing with the daily allowance they did away with all of the Executive/Conceirge lounges. Hint Marriott kept there lounges. If Marriotts app and new policies weren’t so bad I would switch. Time to look at Hyatt, at least they respect their customers.
    Hilton has immensely devalued themselves in favor of shareholder profits…what a shame as they were once a great brand.

  8. It’s been a while since I’ve had a really good experience at an Embassy Suites evening reception. Usually, though, they’re okay, worth stopping in for a drink or two and maybe some chips.

    The thing I notice about Embassy Suites these days is that they’ve become favorites for traveling high school or grade school sports teams — soccer, baseball or basketball. I guess they pack the suites with up to four kids, and they get an included full breakfast. Kids love it, apparently.

    • Lan,
      Interesting! We’ve been able to avoid Embassy Suites with loads of sports teams. We had our fill of that at Hyatt Place years ago.

  9. Anybody know if these Embassy Suites are owned and managed by Hilton itself……or if a new arrival from who knows where and his family has bought the property and is saving money. If so, then the new owner needs to take down the Hilton sign out front. Hilton should stand for a certain level of quality.

  10. Considering the rooms are large suites and moderately priced…this is a gross example of entitlement… it was adjusted during covid and many properties stayed that way…regardless it’s free and they still offer plenty of amenities…do you know of a hotel that offers more at the same price point?

    • Jp,

      Ah, “entitlement.” In my view, it’s reasonable for any traveler to feel “entitled” to what a brand advertises. From the Embassy Suites site: “Offering a variety of beer, wine, and premium spirits paired with light appetizers, our Evening Reception is the perfect way to end the day or start the night with friends, family and co-workers.” In my experience at this property’s reception, I couldn’t decipher anything earning the description of “premium” or “variety.”

      And at the 75k points per night level, countless properties across Hilton’s portfolio have offered more, in our experience.

  11. Well the price of the hotel sure haven’t gone down to stay there. I used to go out of my way to find an embassy suite, not anymore. Whole chane is a. Rip off.

  12. The two drink limit has been that way for a while…I can’t put a year on it, but that does not surprise me at all.

    Food selection does tho. Used to be taco’s, or a baked potato with all the toppings..

    HAHA to the poster who talked about John Taffer…I love that show!

  13. Same for Embassy Suites in Colorado Springs. I spent 50,000 Hilton points per night for nothing. Never again.
    Elevators didn’t work. Quality of breakfast was way down from times
    past. Paper plates for breakfast….why? Oh, I get it. Dishwasher has less work to do. Evening was just like in the photo. Does anybody cook any more?…evening reception used to have hot soup or other hot foods. Any Hyatt breakfast is much better.
    Better to stay at Hampton Inn and spend money elsewhere in town.

  14. That looks like the standard evening reception items offered at all the Embassy Suites that I’ve stayed at over the past 20 years. Some have had local brew pub beers offered, some have had domestics. Some have had local winery wines served, many have not. But chips, pretzels, nuts and cheeses have been the standard fare. No complaints from me, I enjoy the people I meet and talk with, and it is a great starting point for what ever my dinner plans are, which is where I prefer to enjoy my evening meal at.

    • I’m not surprised to hear this, SF. Indeed, I’ve noticed some of the same stuff at others. But I found the austerity at this one – a combination of all reception elements – amongst an otherwise attractive setting supremely disappointing.


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