Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Spunky design, clean, comfortable rooms, and free Wi-Fi in the lobby
Located in sleepy Foggy Bottom a 15-minute walk to Georgetown and the White House, the 346-room Renaissance Washington has little more spunk than most of D.C.'s other many Marriott hotels. The lobby is especially cheerful with bright furnishings, modern touches like funky accent pillows, ample seating, and free Wi-Fi. Several guests complained about the size of the rooms, but at 350 square feet, they're actually about average for D.C. The beds are comfortable and feature 300-thread-count sheets, soft duvets, and feather pillows. Up-to-date tech amenities include a 27-inch LG flat-screen TV, with 65 channels and free HBO, an electronic safe big enough for a laptop, a clock radio, and a helpful bank of outlets adjacent to the oversized desk with a Herman Miller Aeron chair.
The service is fairly standard for a midlevel property -- generally competent and speedy but sometimes a bit too do-it-yourself. Check-in was fast and friendly. And my request for toothpaste was filled in under five minutes. But when I first arrived, I waited several minutes before a bellman came to help me with my bags, even after my taxi driver whistled for help. And when I asked for restaurant recommendations, the concierge merely handed me a photocopied list of suggestions.
The hotel is largely lacking in one fairly significant feature: light. The lobby is bright, but most of the guest rooms have tiny windows that look out on the dark, rear of the building -- and those that face M Street in the front look out at another large building. Admittedly, this won't matter to those who are at the hotel primarily to sleep. But I found the lack of natural light made my room feel somewhat claustrophobic, despite it's ample size.
Light is also in short supply in the fitness and business centers, neither of which has windows. That said, the equipment in the small gym -- seven cardio machines, all with personal TV screens, and a small assortment of weights and strength machines -- is in great condition. There's no pool on the property, but guests can get free passes to the indoor pool and gym at the nearby YMCA. The business center has just one computer for rent (for a flat rate, no matter how long you are on-line). Better to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in the lobby, borrow the hotel's free laptop, or fork over the daily fee for in-room Wi-Fi.
M Brasserie, the in-house restaurant, serves skippable standard American fare at hotel-inflated prices. (A better option at these rates is the delicious Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt.) But the quality Illy coffee shop off the lobby is a nice feature.
All in all a perfectly pleasant if somewhat lackluster (both literally and figuratively) option. It's worth comparing prices at the Marriott Washington around the corner. If you want to be in this area and you're willing to spend a little more, consider the smaller and more charming River Inn, an immaculate all-suite hotel located closer to the State Department and the Mall but farther from Dupont Circle.
The Renaissance Washington has a convenient location within the West End. The area is decidedly sleepier than Georgetown, its wealthier, more historic neighbor, a 10- to 15-minute walk west. The downside to the neighborhood is a relative lack of restaurants, cafes, or signs of life -- for those you'll need to head to Dupont Circle, a 10- to 15-minute walk (or quick taxi ride), or to nearby Georgetown.
The Renaissance Washington has a little more style than most business-oriented hotels in sleepy Foggy Bottom; the 346 rooms are comfortable and immaculate; and the lobby with free Wi-Fi is bright and pleasant. On the other hand, the rooms get little light and the service can be middling. A good-enough midpriced option, but it's worth shopping around.