The Dupont Circle Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

Bottom Line

Despite its modest 1940s-era exterior, the Dupont Circle Hotel is in the vanguard of modern design among D.C. hotels after a yearlong, top-to-bottom renovation. Handsome, well-appointed rooms are the real highlight, but solid service, a popular local bar scene, excellent Cafe Dupont, and a prime Dupont Circle location complete the substance behind its style.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Modest contemporary design that doesn't overdo it, combined with luxurious rooms and a Dupont Circle location, are a pleasant surprise.

The Dupont Circle Hotel
The Dupont Circle Hotel

Extreme Makeover: Hotel Edition? That's pretty much the case here. The Doyle Hotel Group took a year and $52 million to turn this historic D.C. hotel into one of the city's most modern lodgings, but kept the design grounded in a certain classicism. Reopened in April 2009, the former Jurys Washington Hotel now sports pitch-perfect decor behind its 1940s-era white stone exterior. Rooms deliver more than expected in comfort and amenities. and a bustling lobby and bar scene attracts a solid local crowd.

Wedged between a Starbucks and a Books-A-Million on the border of Dupont Circle park, you'd never guess from the hotel's understated exterior and low-key lobby and bar that it holds some of the city's most modern rooms. Cool grey tones, minimalist furniture, and sleek marble bathrooms are subtly contemporary, avoiding the pitfall of overwrought trendiness that quickly dates so many design-oriented hotels. But beyond design, the rooms also offer a fresh perspective on luxury: without name brand sheets and separate soaking tubs, it falls short of the standrads set by institutions like the Four Seasons or Ritz, but details like heated bathroom floors, huge flat-panel TVs, and free Wi-Fi provide an appealingly practical form of luxury -- not to mention a lot of value -- for guests. The rooms are small to average in size, but smart design and layout still allow for roomy bathrooms and king beds, while unobstructed views of Dupont Circle and its wide surrounding streets keep the rooms feelings bright and sunny.

Indeed, the rooms alone are enough to earn the Dupont Circle Hotel a nod, but that's not the only card up its sleeve. The central Dupont Circle location, lively bar scene, and excellent restaurant have landed it a role in the local scene, so it doesn't just feel like a vessel for business travelers and weekend warriors. It also has good service, a free business center, small fitness center, and free Wi-Fi throughout (even some of the city's priciest hotels nickel and dime guests for email access). The W Washington D.C., another stylish property, offers a better gym, a spa, and a rooftop terrace, but the Dupont still manages to hold its own, especially if you consider the price.

 Service

Efficient, but not overly doting or personalized

The front desk
The front desk

Service here is no less -- and in most cases, no more -- than what you'd expect from a midrange, 300-plus-room hotel. Though the website presents an image of luxury, the service never aspires to the thoroughness or attentiveness that you'd get at a true luxury property. Doormen gathered my luggage and welcomed me to the hotel, but the front desk staffer barely looked up from his computer while uttering his welcome and then merely handed me keys and waved in the direction of the elevator.

  • Doormen and bell staff assist guests with luggage and taxi service.
  • No separate concierge desk, but informal concierge services are provided at the front desk
  • Turndown service available on request (lights dimmed, shutters closed, and TV turned on, plus bottled water, slippers placed bedside, and a Frette bathrobe hung in the bathroom)
  • 24-hour in-room dining from Café Dupont
  • Suite guests receive "24-hour concierge service"

 Location

On Dupont Circle, a bohemian enclave just northwest of downtown

Dupont Circle mixes residential, commercial and nocturnal entities in a homey neighborhood package that's not too far from the tourist attractions. Block by block, Dupont Circle encompasses a number of different things to do and see, such as Embassy Row, well-kept brick brownstones, art galleries (including the renowned Phillips Collection), and historic buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Matthew (where J.F.K.'s funeral was held) and the Woodrow Wilson House, the only presidential museum in the district.

But to most visitors, Dupont Circle also means nightlife. Unlike many parts of Washington, it's been a bohemian enclave for decades and is often considered the heart of gay life in Washington. There are watering holes of all kinds, from the divey Big Hunt to the upscale 18th Street Lounge, to Apex, a popular gay dance club for more than 25 years.

Though the Dupont Hotel is within walking distance of the restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops of Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, it is a bit too far removed from the great majority of the tourist attractions to consider walking -- either take cabs or use the Metro's Red Line.

  • 2.5-miles to Union Station, 15-minute cab ride
  • The closest Metro stop, Dupont Circle, is less than a block away.
  • Train from Dupont Circle to Metro Center is two stops, 10 minutes
  • 20-minute walk, five-minute drive, to the White House
  • 30- to 40-minute walk, eight-minute drive, to the center of the Mall (Washington Monument, WW II, etc.)
  • 30- to 40-minute walk, 10-minute drive, walk to the Smithsonian Institution and Capitol Building
  • 20-minute walk, five-minute drive, to western monuments on the Mall (Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, etc.)
  • 30- to 40-minute walk, 10-minute drive, to southwest monuments on the Mall (Jefferson Memorial, FDR, etc.)
  • 20- to 30-minute taxi to Reagan National Airport
  • 45- to 60-minute taxi to Dulles International Airport

 Rooms

Solid with nice touches like heated bathroom floors

A Superior Room
A Superior Room

Rooms here are rock solid: You could strip away several of the hotel's amenities and still recommend the hotel purely for its great rooms. Highlights include free Wi-Fi, comfortable pillow-top beds, huge bathrooms with heated floors, and views over Dupont Circle from some rooms. The 1940s-era quarters, like most of D.C.'s historical buildings, are conservative in size (the smallest are around 350 square feet, average for D.C. hotels), but the renovations made lemonade from lemons by using smart furniture layout, big bathrooms, and large windows to keep them from feeling cramped or dark. Conservatively modern design stays grounded with details like wooden shutters, leather headboards, and subdued grey-striped carpets, but it's still fresh, minimal, and urban in a way that's only just seeping into other D.C. hotels (the W Washington D.C. and Donovan Hotel are the closest match for modern, but their rooms are far smaller).

  • Rooms are average size for D.C., but don't feel cramped thanks to smart floor plans and large bathrooms (rooms run from 350 to 400 square feet; suites are about 500 to 700 square feet)
  • Comfortable beds (king size in nearly all rooms) have pillow-top mattresses and down comforters, but sheets are a cotton/polyester blend.
  • Massive bathrooms feature European-style standing showers, heated floors (controls in the bathroom so guests can choose to turn on or off), and full sets of Kiehl's toiletries, but no bathtubs in basic rooms (only in suites).
  • Up-to-date technology includes wall-mounted, flat-panel LG TVs and Sony iPod dock alarm radios.
  • Thoughtfully placed outlets within easy reach of the bed and desk for easy electronic plug-in and charging (no digging behind furniture for the last available plug).
  • Free Wi-Fi access (but no high-speed hookup)
  • Vending machine-style minibars (sensors track removal of beverages) are minimally stocked.
  • High-tech do-not-disturb buttons, rather than a paper doorknob sign, light up a signal on the room number plates in the hall
  • Deluxe Rooms all have unobstructed views of Dupont Circle, while others have expansive street views (no bleak courtyards or brick wall vistas).

 Features

Free business center and gym, but nothing extraordinary

The gym
The gym

Standard facilities are clean, new, and up-to-date, but this isn't where the hotel has put its $52 million in renovations: They ultimately feel like small, repurposed rooms rather than brand-new, redone facilities. It one-ups most of its competitors with free business center services (most force you to pay by the minute and per page printed), and its facilities are all 24 hours, but if you're after better than basic amenities, the W Washington has an on-site Bliss Spa, a much better gym, and a rooftop bar and terrace.

  • 24-hour business center has two PC computers, each with their own printer; use of all equipment and printing is free
  • 24-hour basement fitness center is basically a repurposed conference room with seven cardio machines (they're in good condition, with Vizio flat-screen TVs in front, but not actually part of the machine) and three cable weight machines, but no free weights or mat space for stretching. A small selection of magazines, water, and towels are provided, but no headphones.
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel
  • Pricey overnight valet parking
  • Over 9,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 9th-floor area that overlooks Dupont Circle
  • "Level Nine" lounge offers free continental breakfast and evening wine and cheese for suite guests only
  • Café Dupont offers local, organic food with a southern twist.

 Family

Comfortable for families, but they'll likely need to book Deluxe rooms or suites

This is an easy hotel for families to negotiate: Rooms are quiet and comfortable, there's 24-hour room service and on-site dining (both offer kids' menus), and it's in a central location with plenty to do and eat within walking distance. Rollaways and cribs don't fit in the hotel's basic rooms, though, and there are no DVD players in rooms or on-site features like a pool to keep kids entertained.

  • Standard rooms are of average size for the city (the smallest is about 350 square feet), but cribs or rollaways won't fit.
  • Cribs and rollaways each have a nightly fee (the former are usually free), and they only fit in suites and deluxe rooms.
  • 24-hour room service and on-site Café Dupont both offer kids' menus.
  • Discounted breakfast buffet for kids ages six to12; five and under eat free
  • For a list of more family-friendly hotels in Washington, D.C., click here.

 Cleanliness

Spotless

Reopened in April 2009 after top-to-bottom renovations, everything here sparkles and shines.

 Food

Organic food with a Southern twist at Café Dupont; local scene at Bar Dupont

Café Dupont
Café Dupont

Along with the hotel's complete revamp, it replaced its previously popular Irish pub with a new restaurant and bar: Café Dupont and Bar Dupont. The bar gets a lively after work and local crowd starting around happy hour and going into late night, especially on weekends. Though it's taking a bit longer to garner attention, Café Dupont offers a surprisingly good menu: Its Franco-American cuisine focuses on local and organic ingredients, with a Southern twist. Prices are typical for a hotel restaurant, but the cuisine is much, much better -- it probably won't take long for this to become as popular as the bar.

  • Café Dupont is open for breakfast and dinner.
  • Bar Dupont serves lunch and small bites in the evenings; beer and cocktails throughout the day and into the night.
  • 24-hour room service is a truncated menu from Café Dupont with late-night and kids' menu offerings.
  • Plenty of restaurants within walking distance

 Bottom Line

Despite its modest 1940s-era exterior, the Dupont Circle Hotel is in the vanguard of modern design among D.C. hotels after a yearlong, top-to-bottom renovation. Handsome, well-appointed rooms are the real highlight, but solid service, a popular local bar scene, excellent Cafe Dupont, and a prime Dupont Circle location complete the substance behind its style.

Things You Should Know About The Dupont Circle Hotel

Address

  • 1500 New Hampshire Avenue Nw, Washington, DC 20036

Room Types

  • Deluxe Double Double Room
  • Deluxe King Room
  • Grand Deluxe Double Double Room
  • Grande Deluxe King Room
  • Luxury Suite
  • Luxury Suite w/ Balcony
  • Studio Suite w/ Balcony
  • Stuido Suite
  • Superior Double Double Room
  • Superior King Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 327
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Address: 1500 New Hampshire Avenue Nw, Washington, DC 20036
(See Map)
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