Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Downtown, Washington, D.C., United States

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Pros

  • Large, well-laid-out rooms with great beds and beautiful bathrooms
  • Central downtown location
  • 24-hour room service
  • Multilingual staff (English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese)
  • Good concierge services available throughout the day
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • No pool or spa
  • Pricey valet parking

Bottom Line

This graceful 237-room hotel, part of a French-owned international chain, opened in 2002 in a former office building. With its elegant lobby, spacious rooms, sumptuous beds, and a decidedly European feel in the center of old downtown near Lafayette Park and the White House, it's tres popular with both international and domestic business travelers and families.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Et voila -- you could almost be in gay Par-ee.

The Sofitel is housed in a former bank building
The Sofitel is housed in a former bank building

This 237-room hotel (part of a French-owned chain), which opened in 2002 in a circa-1880 former office building, feels like a petit pocket of Paris. You regularly hear French being spoken by welcoming staffers as well as guests. The hotel feels smaller and more intimate than its size would suggest. The lobby is all jewel tones and warm woods, with gilt frames, hanging lamps, fresh flower arrangements, and gleaming square clocks set to the times in France, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C., above each elevator. The Sofitel sees lots of repeat guests, including French and Canadians in town on business. And everywhere I turned I saw chic, well-dressed French businesspeople murmuring bon mots into their mobile phones.

Its setting practically around the corner from the White House can't be beat, except perhaps by the Hay-Adams. All aspects of the property are continually being upgraded. Guest rooms are pleasantly spacious and well designed, with tasteful furnishings, soothing monochromatic tones, and framed black-and-white photos of Paris and D.C. Sofitel's Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar are cool, low-key spots for a quiet drink or dinner. (Visitors hoping for a velvet-rope, clipboard-toting hostess, thumping rooftop bar scene, for a pretty penny more a night, should try the recently opened W Hotel, formerly Hotel Washington, just a few blocks away.)

The Sofitel suffers a few drawbacks, including the lack of a spa and free Wi-Fi (for that, see the Fairmont or Hotel Helix), but Sofitel's rooms, beds, service, and location may make you forgive those flaws. A much less expensive (yet louder, super-slick, and trendy) downtown alternative to the Sofitel is the Donovan House. The Hay-Adams provides views of the White House for a bit more a night than the Sofitel, while a room at legendary grande dame the Willard can run a whopping tab per night; you may be better off just stopping in for a cocktail at its Round Robin Bar, a fave of politicos.

 Service

Impressively high level of attention

The hotel's staff is unfailingly polite
The hotel's staff is unfailingly polite

Service at the Sofitel feels surprisingly personal for a hotel with 237 rooms. Front desk clerks, concierges, bellman, porters, doormen, and housekeeping and maintenance staff are unfailingly polite and helpful, and execute requests quickly and efficiently. Most address guests by name as often as possible, and give guests the option of speaking French; whenever guests call down to the front desk or concierge, a monsieur or madame greets them with a "Bonjour/soir, Ms. E___."

  • Newspapers delivered daily upon request (Le Monde, Le Figaro, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today)
  • 24-hour room service from Ici Urban Bistro
  • Dedicated Clef d'Or Concierge
  • Free hotel town car drop-off service within eight-block radius, mornings Monday to Friday, based on availability
  • Nightly turndown service includes bottled water
  • Same-day laundry/dry cleaning; free overnight shoeshine
  • Valet parking available for a fee
  • Currency exchange services

 Location

Around the corner from the White House and Lafayette Park

In the heart of old downtown, on the corner of 15th and H Streets, just steps from Lafayette Park, the only way to get closer to the White House is to stay at the Hay-Adams, or run for high office yourself. Lots of must-see historic sites are within easy walking distance, but while the immediate area around the hotel is bustling with nine-to-fivers during the day, it can border on desolate at night. Your only dining and drinking options in the immediate area are on-site, at other hotels like the Hay-Adams or the Jefferson, or at nearby Bobby Vans Steakhouse or Woodward Table.

  • One-block to Lafayette Park; two blocks to the White House
  • Closest Metro stop, McPherson Square (Blue and Orange Lines), is two blocks away; Metro Center stop (Red, Blue, and Orange Lines) is five blocks away; northbound Red Line trains reach Dupont Circle and the National Zoo.
  • 20-minute walk to Washington Monument; five minutes by cab, depending on traffic
  • 1.5 miles to the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall; less than 10 minutes by cab, depending on traffic; or a 25-minute walk; or Smithsonian stop on Metro's Blue and Orange Lines
  • 1.9 miles to the National Air and Space Mueum; 10 minutes by cab; or a 30-minute walk; or Smithsonian stop on Metro's Blue and Orange Lines
  • 2.4 miles to U.S. Capitol building; 10 minutes by cab, depending on traffic
  • Two miles to Union Station; 10 minutes by cab, depending on traffic; or Union Station stop on Metro's Red Line
  • 5.2 miles to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport; 10 minutes by cab, depending on traffic; airport has its own stop on Metro's Blue and Yellow Lines.
  • 27.2 miles to Washington Dulles International Airport; at least 45 minutes in traffic

 Rooms

Big, well-designed rooms feel like peaceful cocoons.

A Superior Room
A Superior Room

Sofitel guest rooms are commodious by D.C. standards, well laid out, quiet (even those that face busy 15th Street), and equipped with up-to-date electronics. A Superior Room with king-size bed is 370 square feet, with a large closet, desk, velvet chair, and side table. (A Superior room with two double beds is 400 square feet.) Luxury rooms are 400 square feet (king bed) or 450 square feet (two double beds); Junior Suites with king beds are at least 475 square feet. In-room catalogs advertise Sofitel's own SoBed or MyBed. Though the one in my room didn't appear to be either brand, the mattress was extremely comfortable and the bedding felt luxurious.

  • 38-inch flat-screen LG TV with HBO, HBO Family, French channels such as TV5 Monde and Tivi (dedicated children's French speaking channel), and on-demand movies
  • SoBed, with Frette bed and bath linens
  • Wired and wireless Internet
  • Sensored minibar; electronic safe big enough for laptop; windows don't open
  • Bose sound system with remote control and iPod dock; sleek, adjustable reading lamps above bed
  • Spacious bathrooms include glass-enclosed shower with excellent massage showerhead, separate American Standard tub, American Standard toilet, makeup mirror, and phone.
  • High-quality Lanvin and Hermès toiletries; good Frette robes and slippers; Imperial towels;
  • Some guest rooms overlook the unsightly exterior of another building.

 Features

No pool or spa, but a well-equipped fitness center in the basement

The gym
The gym

Though its list of amenities isn't enormous (no spa, small business center), somehow the Sofitel doesn't feel lacking in perks. But for more extensive facilities, consider the W Hotel or the Hay-Adams.

  • Seasonal street-level patio outside Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar
  • Attractive SoFit fitness center open 24 hours; Technogym equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals with personal TV screens, circuit-weight-training equipment, free weights, medicine balls, newspapers, towels, and space for stretching and yoga
  • SoConnected business center off lobby open 24 hours with free use of three computers and a printer
  • Free town car to ferry you within eight blocks of the hotel Monday to Friday mornings; first come, first served
  • No spa; for that, check into the nearby W Hotel with its on-site, high-end Bliss Spa

 Pet Friendly

Pets under 50 pounds allowed at no extra cost.

This being a French-owned establishment, dogs are encouraged (as are cats, both for free), and the hotel spoils them rotten.

  • Pet menus include sautéed ground beef sirloin with rice and vegetables for dogs, sautéed salmon with rice and vegetables for cats, Halo Spot's Stew Dry Formula for dogs and cats, plus Halo treats and pet cookies.

 Family

Better suited to families with older children than little ones

While the hotel happily receives children, the guest rooms have plenty of space, and the downtown location is ideal for walking and sightseeing, the Sofitel feels tranquil, grown up, and business-like -- not like a place for youngsters to frolic.

  • Kids' menu includes chicken noodle soup, mini burgers, pizza, a peanut butter and raspberry gelee sandwich, and ice cream.

 Cleanliness

Thoroughly neat, clean, and tidy

Public spaces and guest rooms are virtually spotless, aside from a few negligible carpet stains. Though a perfect storm of relatively minor problems occurred in my room upon arrival (clock wasn't set to standard time; door handle came off; minibar door wouldn't close; Bose sound system remote didn't work; electronic safe didn't operate; light bulb in bathroom was out), hotel maintenance and engineering fixed the issues apologetically, and the front desk soon followed up by phone to make sure everything had been handled to my satisfaction.

 Food

Tasty food and drink from Ici Urban Bistro, Le Bar, or room service

Crepes at ICI Urban Bistro
Crepes at ICI Urban Bistro

Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar sit across the lobby from each other. Ici Urban Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Open daily, Le Bar serves soups, salads, a croque monsieur, and has a full bar in a casual, supper-club-like setting with red and black hues, settees, and cocktail tables.

  • Ici Urban Bistro, just off the lobby entrance, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Le Bar, also on the lobby level, serves free coffee and tea in the morning, as well as food and drinks in the evening.
  • 24-hour room service, including menus for children and pets

 Bottom Line

This graceful 237-room hotel, part of a French-owned international chain, opened in 2002 in a former office building. With its elegant lobby, spacious rooms, sumptuous beds, and a decidedly European feel in the center of old downtown near Lafayette Park and the White House, it's tres popular with both international and domestic business travelers and families.

Things You Should Know About Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square

Address

  • 806 15th Street Nw, Washington, DC 20005

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Accor Washington Dc
  • Sofitel Washington DC
  • Washington Dc Sofitel

Room Types

  • Junior Suite
  • Luxury Double/Double Room
  • Luxury Room
  • Presidential Suite
  • Superior Double/Double Room
  • Superior Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 237
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Address: 806 15th Street Nw, Washington, DC 20005
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