Hotel Palomar DC Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., United States

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Pros

Cons

  • Smaller rooms than other Kimpton properties
  • Business center Internet costs $5 for 15 minutes.
  • Valet parking is costly, with in-out privileges.

Bottom Line

Fun boutique flair, at a fair price. The 335-room Hotel Palomar has an outdoor pool, a lively bar and restaurant, and a great location near the Metro subway station and the nightlife of Dupont Circle. And being a Kimpton hotel, it has great perks -- free wine hour; free Wi-Fi; pet pampering; great beds; top-notch service.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Unconventional room flourishes, a spirited bar, free wine, a quality gym, and a pool -- all at a fair price

Lobby wine reception
Lobby wine reception

Rumor has it, the hip-hop stars from Cypress Hill partied at the Palomar during my stay; while I was long asleep. What does this tell us? The Palomar is cool enough for rappers, yet quiet enough for an aging guest to sleep through it in blissful comfort.

Make no mistake, the 335-room Palomar is an animated hotel, arguably even more so than its sister Kimpton-mangaged hotels in the D.C. area (the George, Helix, Madera, and Monaco hotels, among others). Its "Art in Motion" theme thrives on a sense of fun, not pretentiousness, and while the front desk clerks might list their "artistic inspiration" on their nametags, the selections range from the genius (Joan Miro) to the influential (Biggie Smalls) to the inexplicable (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Adding to the lively mix, there's a popular bar (with great happy hour specials), an occassional high-profile art exhibition (partnered with the renowned Phillips Collection), evening wine tastings paired with Wii tennis tournaments, colorful room schemes, minibars stocked with Garfield Pez dispensers, and animal-print bathrobes (all hallmarks of the Kimpton brand). And the hotel fits well into its happening-yet-down-to-earth Dupont Circle location, an area that has become boutique hotel central.

That said, it's not quite as in-the-know-hip as Donovan House, and the rooms are smaller than the other nearby Kimptons like the Helix and the Madera (both of which offer a similar level style, service, and comfort). Still, it's a sound choice for the price (especially considering all the fun extras). To paraphrase B-Real from Cypress Hill, you'd have to be at least a little insane in the membrane not to consider the Palomar.

 Service

Personable and attentive

The front desk
The front desk

In general, the hotel staff makes a diligent effort to learn each guests' name -- a level of attention that separates the smaller boutiques from big chains (although at 335 rooms, the Palomar fits somewhere in between) -- and I found the concierge to be knowledgeable and helpful.

  • 24-hour room service
  • Food and drink service available at the pool during the summer
  • Free newspapers, including USA Today and The New York Times (including Sunday)
  • Valet parking is costly, with in-out privileges.
  • Turndown service available upon request
  • Knowledgable concierge and front desk staff
  • Free daily wine reception; free coffee and tea each morning in the "living room" and a coffeemaker with free coffee packets can be delivered to your room on request

 Location

In the bohemian enclave of Dupont Circle, just northwest of downtown

Dupont Circle mixes residential, commercial and nocturnal entities in a homey neighborhood package that's not too far from the tourist attractions. Block by block, Dupont Circle encompasses a number of different things to do and see, such as Embassy Row, well-kept brick brownstones, art galleries (including the renowned Phillips Collection), and historic buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Matthew (where J.F.K.'s funeral was held) and the Woodrow Wilson House, the only presidential museum in the district.

But to most visitors, Dupont Circle also means nightlife. Unlike many parts of Washington, it's been a bohemian enclave for decades and is often considered the heart of gay life in Washington. There are watering holes of all kinds, from the divey Big Hunt to the upscale 18th Street Lounge, to Apex, a popular gay dance club for more than 25 years.

  • 15-minute cab ride to Union Station, D.C.'s main station with Amtrak, Metro, and commuter rail service
  • The closest Metro stop, Dupont Circle, is two blocks away.
  • 20- to 30-minute cab ride to [http://www.mwaa.com/national/ Reagan National Airport; 30-minute, Metro trip to Dupont Circle
  • 45- to 60-minute cab ride to Dulles International Airport
  • Five- to 10-minute drive to the White House and the National Mall, including the Washington Monument and World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian Institution

 Rooms

Nicely furnished; arty flourishes; tiny bathroom

The Queen Deluxe Room
The Queen Deluxe Room

Befitting the "Art in Motion" theme, the rooms at the Hotel Palomar have more flair than a typical chain hotel. Voguish touches like the faux bearskin blanket, the Mosaic lamps, the illuminated nightstands, the leather headboard, the mirrored side table, and the paintings on the wall give the room a distinctive flavor.

  • Starting at 280 square feet, the standard "Deluxe" guest room (either a queen or king-size bed) is about the average size of a D.C. hotel room.
  • Comfortable beds: a high-quality Sealy mattresses; down pillows (foam upon request); down duvet; 200-thread-count Frette linens
  • Cramped bathroom; the toilet sits inches away from the shower
  • iHome, iPod-docking alarm clock
  • Large, 37-inch flat-screen TV with 40 plus channels, on-demand movies and video games
  • DVD player with free movies at front desk (more titles for kids than for grown-ups)
  • Animal-print bathrobes
  • Electronic safe, large enough for a 17-inch laptop
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Stocked minibar
  • Special guest rooms: "Tall" rooms feature 90-inch-long king beds; "Motion" have cardio machines (or a ballet bar); "Spa King" rooms have a Fuji soaking tub for two.

 Features

The Palomar doesn't have a ton of amenities, but the offerings are solid.

The gym
The gym
  • 24-hour gym: Precor machines; full rack of dumbbells; plenty of exercise mats and balls; free apples
  • 40-foot outdoor pool; only available in warm weather
  • 24-hour business center (just two computers and a printer); Internet is charged in the business center, but Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel
  • Lobby wine reception, held every day
  • No spa facilities, but in-room treatments are available

 Family

Not exactly geared toward families, but the Palomar offers more for families than most small-scale boutiques

Wii tennis tournaments for kids during the wine hour
Wii tennis tournaments for kids during the wine hour

Between the seasonal pool with toys, the on-demand video games, free children's DVD selections, free milk and cookies, and a kids' menu, the Hotel Palomar has more family offerings than tend to be found at boutique hotels.

 Food

Urbana, the on-site restaurant, has beome a neighborhood favorite.

Urbana
Urbana

The dimly-lit 173-seat Urbana restaurant offers a mixture of dishes from northern Italy and southern France (as well as a solid wine list) from the up-and-coming young chef, Alex Bollinger. The bar at Urbana -- which serves signature cocktails, small plates, and brick-oven pizzas -- can be hopping on the weekends, though it generally caters to a more mature crowd than many of the other bars in Dupont Circle.

  • 24-hour room service; an extensive menu from Urbana
  • Free wine reception in the lobby
  • Cheap oysters, pizzas, beers and wines during Urbana's happy hour

 Cleanliness

Some stains and scuffs since the 2006 renovation, but generally clean

In my room, there were handful of smudges on the glass, stains on the wall, a crack on the face of the DVD player, and a bit of dander on the desk chair, but not enough to call the hotel anything but clean. The fitness center, in particular, was especially well maintained.

 Pet-Friendly

All pets welcome; no fees or restrictions

As is the case at all Kimpton hotels, the hotel strives to be the most pet-friendly in the business. In addition to all the free perks, there's also a pet concierge who can provide further information about dog walking, pet sitting, pet massages, gourmet treats during the evening turndown, old newspapers, and helpful contact information.

  • No deposit, no charge for pets
  • Pet-free floors available
  • Free pet treats, food bowls, mat, bed, and other goodies
  • "Bark Bar," a water bar for thirsty dogs outside the hotel
  • "The Dish," a pet lounging area inside the hotel

 Bottom Line

Fun boutique flair, at a fair price. The 335-room Hotel Palomar has an outdoor pool, a lively bar and restaurant, and a great location near the Metro subway station and the nightlife of Dupont Circle. And being a Kimpton hotel, it has great perks -- free wine hour; free Wi-Fi; pet pampering; great beds; top-notch service.

Things You Should Know About Hotel Palomar DC

Address

  • 2121 P Street, Nw, Washington D.C., DC 20037

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Hotel Palomar Washington DC - a Kimpton Hotel
  • Kimpton Washington Dc

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • King Executive Room
  • Presidential Suite
  • Spa King Room
  • Spa Suite
  • Specialty Motion Spa Room
  • Superior/ Deluxe Suite
  • Two Queens Executive Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 335
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Address: 2121 P Street, Nw, Washington D.C., DC 20037
(See Map)
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