Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
Efficient, but not overly doting or personalized
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.
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.
Solid with nice touches like heated bathroom floors
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).
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.
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.
Reopened in April 2009 after top-to-bottom renovations, everything here sparkles and shines.
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.
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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