Officials of The Oliver Carr Co., majority owner of the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel, whose management gave Mayor Marion Barry free use of a $1,500 suite for the July 4 weekend, said yesterday they recommended last year against allowing Barry complimentary rooms because of the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Carr Co. officials said they made the recommendation when the mayor's office sought use of the hotel for New Year's Eve. Barry's office made reservations but the room was not used.

Principal owner Oliver T. Carr Jr. was consulted about the New Year's request, even though the day-to-day management of the hotel is handled by Inter-Continental officials. "Carr said, 'Absolutely not, I don't think it's a good idea,' " a Carr spokeswoman said.

J.T. Kuhlman, general manager of the hotel, said yesterday that at the opening of the hotel in August 1986 he had invited Barry to "come spend some time with us" and that Barry may have interpreted that as an invitation to stay for free.

Carr Co. officials said Barry's office made repeated requests to the hotel management for free accommodations for the mayor and that "when they called again {for July 4}, they felt they had to say yes." Kuhlman, however, said Barry would have to pay for any future use of rooms.

Barry said Wednesday that he and his wife Effi had been invited by every hotel in the city to use their facilities without cost because he has encouraged the growth of the hotel industry here. The mayor declined to comment yesterday on the Carr Co.'s statement that Barry's office had asked for free rooms, saying reporters should focus on his efforts to bring jobs to District residents. "This is not a story," Barry said.

John C. White, Barry's press secretary, said later that the mayor told him it "is not {the mayor's} policy to ask for free rooms."

Sherry Rollins, the spokeswoman for Carr, said that Carr, when consulted about the New Year's request, was concerned that giving free rooms to a politician would appear inappropriate for a company that has numerous development projects in the city. The Carr Co. currently is negotiating for the rights to build at Gallery Place, one of the last prime development sites in downtown Washington.

A number of Washington's luxury hotels are owned by local developers and others who do substantial business with the city. The hotel industry, which is affected by a wide range of issues including zoning and liquor laws, successfully lobbied Barry in 1985 to support a reduced tax rate for hotels that saved the industry an estimated $8.7 million.

Keith Vance, director of the Office of Campaign Finance, said city officials would not violate the District's ethics law by accepting complimentary rooms unless those officials were expected to do something in return. Ethics officials from several cities told The Washington Post on Wednesday that accepting free rooms in most cases would be viewed as conflicts of interest.

The Post reported on Thursday that Barry used the Willard suite for a private party for about 25 persons, a group that Barry declined to identify except to say it was composed of "eminent and outstanding citizens." The mayor's office said Barry had no official functions scheduled during the holiday weekend.

Barry and his wife checked out of the hotel on July 6 without paying a $965.21 bill for food, drink and room service. Barry's personal American Express card was used to pay the bill on July 7 after the hotel contacted the mayor's office.

Leonard E. Hickman, executive director and a lobbyist for the Washington Hotel Association, scoffed at suggestions Barry may be compromised by accepting free accommodations. "I feel he is our biggest promoter," he said. "Whether he pays for it or not, it's up to the hotel."

Hickman compared Barry's use of free rooms to those given movie stars and other famous people. The hotels "might want that image or good will." The association's latest newsletter, released this week, prominently featured a photograph and article on Barry, who was thanked for his "past support of initiatives and programs favorable to the hotel industry."

At a luncheon sponsored by the city's Department of Employment Services at the Capital Hilton yesterday, Barry said he would have to be "crazy" not to keep a "cozy relationship" with the hotel industry because of its importance in creating jobs for District residents.

Ron Richardson, executive secretary of the Hotel and Restaurant Employes Local 25 and its chief negotiator for labor contracts, said Barry should be more concerned about the appearances of accepting favors from hotels.

"I've been in this job now for 21 years," Richardson said. "In those 21 years I haven't accepted a glass of orange juice from a hotel manager . . . . I won't accept because even if there is nothing wrong and I haven't done anything to get it, the perception is not great."

Barry's use of free rooms is not the first time the mayor has been confronted with questions of propriety involving the hotel industry. The Post reported in September 1986 that Effi Barry had received a gift of clothing worth $1,150 from David Wilmot, a friend and registered lobbyist for the Washington Hotel Association since 1980.

During Barry's reelection campaign last year, the mayor and Effi Barry said they had been unaware at the time of the gift that Wilmot was a lobbyist for the hotel industry. In an interview with The Post, Effi Barry said she felt betrayed by Wilmot. "Do you think that I'm such a masochist, or so greedy . . . that I would put myself in a position to have my integrity attacked?"