Clean, pleasant, 352-room hotel that's just a 15-minute walk from the restaurants and nightlife in Dupont Circle and downtown attractions, including the White House
Since it first opened in 1963, the Madison Hotel has been a business-traveler mainstay during the week -- it's only a half-block from the Washington Post offices -- and a host to families and leisure travelers on the weekends. It is a clean, comfortable, and elegant place to stay with a solid gym and business center, but it falls a bit short in terms of service and suffers from an unfortunate location -- there's little to see, do, or eat within a two-block radius of the hotel, and after dark the area can feel like a bit of a no man's land.
All of the guest rooms underwent a $20 million renovation in 2012, following a 2011 purchase of the property by the real estate acquisition and asset management firm Jamestown. Public spaces were last renovated in 2008. Each room has all of the big-chain essentials, including a very comfortable bed (300-thread-count sheets; down pillows; down duvets), an electronic safe big enough to fit a laptop, and a 32-inch flat-screen TV, plus a towel warmer in the small but functional bathroom. And at 350 square feet, the standard (Deluxe) rooms are a touch larger than the average hotel room in D.C. (Grand Luxury Rooms, however, are an impressive 550 square feet).
The 2012 renovations bring an entirely new decor to guestrooms, based largely on the historic architecture of Washington, DC. Warm tones of gray, brown, and taupe give the rooms a cozy vibe, while luxe furniture and details (like the octogonal rugs and white and grey toile wall coverings) give guests a sense of traditional DC granduer. They also included the transformation of three Presidential suites, which feature custom made furnishings, kitchenettes, and about 2,000 square feet of living space for the diplomats to DC (or anyone else looking toe spend a pretty penny) to thoroghly enjoy.
In-room features vary a bit from room to room (only some rooms have massage chairs or iHome iPod-docking alarm clocks, for example), but they do have one thing in common -- poor noise insulation between the rooms. I could hear my neighbor listening to Beethoven's Fifth for three straight hours.
Despite a generally friendly and efficient staff, service, too, can be middling. There always seemed to be bellmen and doormen posted at the entrance, but no one came to help me schlep my bags out of the cab, or even upstairs once I was inside the building. In addition, when I asked the concierge to recommend a good tapas restaurant, he just handed over a Xeroxed list of restaurants in the area. And contrary to what the hotel's website says, turndown service is only upon request these days.
In addition to popular on-site bar, Postscript, the hotel also features The Federalist, a restaurant which claims to stay true to the culinary traditions of 18th century America and Europe. Ingredients originates largely from the DC area, aiding the authentic vibe The Federalist is striving to attain.
While it's a fine choice if you're traveling on business and the location is essential, you might want to first compare rates at the comparable Westin - City Center, just around the corner. Otherwise, it's worth exploring the hotels near Dupont Circle, like the Dupont Hotel, or a downtown business hotel that offers a bit more for the money, like the Four Points by Sheraton.