Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
This Embassy Suites Hotel looks like a brick office building, indistinguishable from the brick office building next door. But step through the revolving doors and suddenly you're in a secret garden with palm trees, waterfalls, and sleek glass elevators gliding up and down the walls. It's a bit surreal, and a bit kitschy, like a small piece of Orlando plunked down in the cold heart of D.C. Fat koi swim in a pond that surrounds a patio and bar where the free breakfast buffet is served. Needless to say, the kids love the fish pond, and the koi -- which spend most of each day greedily gobbling up bread crumbs tossed at them -- seem to love the kids.
Standard suites are a whopping 500 square feet, with either one king or two in the bedroom and a pullout bed in the living room. Though my mattress was a bit too soft, the sheets and the pillows were high quality and felt just right. The living rooms have kitchenettes equipped with sinks, refrigerators and microwave -- all new and in fine working order. There are two 32-inch flat-screen TVs in each suite, one in the bedroom and the other in the living room. The hotel was last renovated in 2004, and my room was starting to show some signs of wear and tear -- nothing major, but I did spot some mold under the sink, for example.
Wireless Internet is free in the lobby, but fees apply in the suites; there's also a do-it-yourself 24-hour business center with three computer terminals and a printer/fax and nine more computers at kiosks in the atrium. A decent fitness room is on the 2nd floor, with an array of brand new Precor equipment. A heated indoor pool and Jacuzzi, accessible through the gym, was closed for renovations when I visited but have recently reopened as of April 2012.
The free breakfast buffet is better than most, with a griddle chef whipping up and plenty of fresh fruit. The on-site Italian restaurant, Trattoria Nicola's, produces solid and reasonably priced family fare, including a popular lunch buffet and a kids menu with everything from fettucine to pizza, hot dogs, and chicken fingers.
Service at the Embassy Suites is friendly, responsive, and reasonably tolerant of rambunctious kids. In fact, parents seem to let kids run free here, which could annoy other guests; for that reason, business travelers may prefer the quieter Marriott Washington across the street, which also has an impressive atrium -- only it's dominated by laptop totting adults instead of fish-feeding kids.
The Embassy Suites has a convenient spot on the edge of the West End. It's decidedly sleepier than Georgetown, its wealthier, more historic neighbor (a 10- to 15-minute walk west). The downside to the vicinity is that there aren't many restaurants, cafes, or nightlife -- for those you'll need to head to Dupont Circle, a 15- to 20-minute walk (or quick taxi), or to nearby Georgetown.
All units at this midlevel, 318-room Foggy Bottom property are efficiency suites with separate living rooms and bedrooms and kitchenettes with sinks, refrigerators and microwaves. Guests are served a free buffet breakfast, and evening cocktails, in the soaring atrium lobby. The rooms could use some updating, but families get a ton of value at this fun, somewhat kitschy property.