- Room service is not 24 hours.
- No spa or pool
The scene at the Carlyle Suites Hotel is best described this way: There is none. This Art Deco former apartment building on a shady, residential stretch of New Hampshire Avenue was fully renovated within the last four years; today it remains a quiet respite from the vibrancy, traffic, and noise of Dupont Circle, which is less than a 10-minute walk, but feels a world away. Its glamorous lobby, foyer, and hallways are stunning surprises worthy of 1930s Hollywood, but the spacious studio suites with kitchenettes, while comfortable enough, unfortunately don't retain much of that fashionable flair beyond a few elegantly geometric accents on the dining table, chairs, vanity stool, desk, and armoire, plus cool elevators that pay homage to the Art Deco aesthetic. Standard Studio Suites with kitchenettes and pullout couches range from 450 to 500 square feet, and Grande Suites measure 600 square feet -- both are immense by D.C. standards.
The hotel's Twist restaurant and bar aren't local hot spots by any means -- they were virtually empty during my two-night stay; but with Dupont Circle's diverse restaurants, bars, nightlife, and Metro station just three blocks away, that wasn't a problem.
Guests include businesspeople, European and Japanese tourists in their 30s, and retired couples on vacation. One night during my stay, I watched a busload of Israeli teenagers on a school trip check in, but afterward, I never heard a peep from their group throughout the entire hotel.
Though nearby there's the tricked-out and hipster-friendly Hotel Palomar and the Dupont Hotel, the Carlyle Suites is a tasteful building in an enviable location on a lovely and safe block. And sizewise, its 450- to 500-square-foot standard Studio Suites with kitchenettes and pullout couches outclass nearby competitors including Hotel Palomar and the Dupont Hotel.
Limited service, but affable, friendly, and not intrusive
Front desk staffers are warm and accommodating (gave me mailing envelopes upon request; honored a late checkout without advance notice), but this is not the place for concierge requests or a cheeseburger at 3 a.m. For those and other services, head to nearby Hotel Palomar (with free nightly wine and champagne happy hour for guests) or newly opened Dupont Hotel, a chic 327-room boutique property right on the circle.
Best of both worlds -- quiet and on a treelined block, yet near Dupont Circle
Set on an attractive, leafy stretch of New Hampshire Avenue, three-and-a-half blocks from the eponymous traffic circle in the neighborhood's center, the Carlyle Suites has location going for it. The diverse Dupont Circle neighborhood, named in honor of American naval officer Samuel Francis Dupont, is a longtime spirited gathering spot for progressive, socially-minded types: coffeehouses, bars, restaurants, and upscale retail shops abound. It's the place to head for a vegan dessert, a gay bar, or to buy fresh produce on Sundays at the farmers' market. Centrally located with numerous options for nightlife (and frequent crowds), Dupont Circle is ideal for travelers who want to get out of "old downtown" and stay in a neighborhood where locals actually live. It's also the historic center of the gay community and home to Embassy Row.
My Classic Double, Room 606, was the hotel's tiniest room at 250 square feet. But it faced leafy New Hampshire Avenue (with graceful townhomes across the street), and was mouse quiet my entire stay. (It's obvious the original apartment walls are thick; no sounds from hotel neighbors, either.) Standard Studio Suites with pullout couches are much roomier, averaging 450 to 500 square feet -- bigger than similar rooms at nearby Hotel Palomar or the Dupont Hotel. Aside from flat-screen TVs, room electronics are meager, and decor feels a bit standard issue, but refurbishments over the past four years have spruced up the property: Kitchenettes are new; suites have plenty of floor space for a table and chairs; bathrooms are bright and clean and connect to a dressing area; toilets are low-flow; memory foam mattresses are good quality; and the furniture, while not anything fancy, plays on the building's Art Deco history. Sure, Dupont Circle's Hotel Palomar and the Dupont Hotel offer more on the amenity front (fitness center, lively bar and restaurant, 24-hour room service), but the Carlyle Suites rivals them (especially for families) thanks to all-suite-style rooms, fully equipped kitchenettes, and real space in which to kick back.
On-site restaurant and fitness center are primary amenities
Be prepared for very modest features at this serene 170-suite hotel (which feels more like its discreet former apartment building self than a hotel). The hotel has an on-site fitness center and a business center for guests to use the one computer and printer. The on-site Twist restaurant is open for breakfast (buffet style), lunch, dinner and brunch. Guests also have access to a laundry room.
Greetings, furry friends
Dogs and cats are welcome at no charge; the hotel assesses a fee only if there's significant damage to the room (which the front desk claims almost never happens), but the hotel doesn't provide bowls, food, or other pet amenities.
Good for families -- studio suites with kitchenettes, plus a superb location
Parents shouldn't be intimidated by its sleek Art Deco lobby and tranquil atmosphere: The Carlyle Suites can be a viable choice for families, particularly thanks to its spacious Classic and Grande Suites with pullout couches, fully stocked kitchenettes, on-site restaurant menu options for youngsters, and delightful location near Dupont Circle and the Metro. It's tough to find a better all-around deal for families in this immediate area.
Generally neat and tidy
On-site restaurant, but lots of better alternatives nearby
Casual Twist restaurant and bar serves a breakfast buffet (not included in room rate), lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, and is separated into two spaces: The bar, which has tables and chairs, oversize black-and-white tile flooring, and incongruous pink neon lights, is not at all a happening place. (One reason for this might be that cocktails were watered down and virtually undrinkable on a recent Wednesday night.) On the opposite side of the lobby is an enclosed patio that, oddly, is dressed up to resemble an exterior street scene in a tiny European village. Foodwise, Twist is completely skippable, especially with the in-room kitchenettes, and the many restaurants, cafes, and pizzerias nearby; still it's a safe option for a cranky brood.
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