A comfortable, reliable option just steps from a Metro subway hub and near the Verizon Center sports arena and the Washington Convention Center -- the 459-room Marriott doesn't get points for flash, but it has better service and a better gym and pool than the massive Grand Hyatt, around the corner.
While its public spaces were renovated in 2009, the guest rooms date back to 2005 (a bit older, by hotel standards). However, the entire property is well maintained and still looks and feels new. Standard rooms average 315 square feet, which is on the small side of average for a Penn Quarter hotel room. The Marriott's rooms offer Wi-Fi and hard-wired internet access for $13 but it lacks iPod-docking stations (unlike rooms at the nearby Grand Hyatt). Guests should also know that wireless is charged from noon to noon. This could be a pain for guests who arrive late in the day and need internet access as they would be paying for less than 24 hours of service. Also, like many hotels in D.C., there are no in-room safes -- you can stash small items for free in a safe-deposit box at the front desk, but there's nowhere to secure a laptop.
Wi-Fi is free in the lobby -- but it didn't work either of the two days I was there. However, since my stay the hotel has replaced its internet system, the wireless service is said to be much more reliable since the change. In addition, as there's insufficient seating for such a large hotel, guests tend to spill into the Starbucks or Fire & Sage, the hotel's mediocre on-site restaurant that's serves pretty standard American fare at inflated prices. You can also access the Interent in the business center, which consists of three PCs and a printer, but using the business center can be pricy.
Service is sufficient but far from exceptional -- as is to be expected of a big-chain hotel. Bellmen are prompt with the bags outside, and friendly, and I was checked into my room in a matter of minutes (all while snacking on a piece of free chocolate from a welcome bowl on the front desk). But the concierge (available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) isn't especially useful; for restaurant recommendations, expect little more than a Xerox list. However, at the massive, 888-room Grand Hyatt, you can expect even more sluggish, impersonal service.
Overall, the Marriott is a reliable choice. While it doesn't have the five restaurants and the indoor lagoon of the Grand Hyatt, half of the Hyatt's rooms also face its loud, 15-story atrium. However, a better all-around value, especially for families, is the nearby Embassy Suites, which is made up of massive, two-room, 436-square-foot suites and offers excellent perks -- a free hot breakfast, a free two-hour happy hour with free booze, soda, and snacks, and a comparable pool.
Located in the Penn Quarter, steps from Metro Center stop, and within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the White House and the Washington Convention Center
Located in the compact section of the city called Penn Quarter, the Marriott is a safe, convenient option for both business and leisure travelers -- full of restaurants and shops (well-known franchises, mostly), but still close to the major sights and monuments. In recent decades, this once-seedy section of town has been revamped -- the most notable addition is the Verizon Center sports arena, host to high-profile concerts, the Capitals, and the Wizzards.
Steps from the Metro Center subway stop; access to three of the city's five Metro subway lines
There are few restaurants or bars along the few blocks surrounding the hotel, but the area still feels relatively safe at night.
Across the street from Macy's and near stores like H&M and Barnes & Noble
Five- to 15-minute walk to the White House, the Verizon Center, and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Spy Museum, Ford's Theatre, and Chinatown
20-minute walk to the Washington Monument
10- to 15-minute drive from Reagan National Airport
30- to 45-minute drive from Washington Dulles International Airport
Parking is costly
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