Situated in the heart of Embassy Row, this 231-room hotel attracts an international crowd. The rooms are small and in need of a face-lift and the fitness center is behind the times. But for business travelers, the location and the hotel's numerous meeting rooms way out the cons.
A stately hotel with an international flavor, but the rooms are very small
On the same quiet treelined block as the Portuguese and Indonesian embassies, the Embassy Row Hotel takes its cue from the international clients it serves.Numerous languages are spoken at the hotel, and employees come from all over: a bellhop from Cambodia, the director of operations from the former Yugoslavia, a manger from Vietnam, a lobby attendant from Chile. It's a business hotel with strong ties to the international affairs community, so it has a classy atmosphere that's nonetheless fading; there have been no major renovations since 2005, so the hotel has lost some of its glamour and high-end clientele.
My 8th-floor room had lovely views of Massachusetts Avenue. It's worth paying an extra fee for a room with a view on floors 6 to 8 because the expansive vista makes the tiny rooms feel bigger. (Or save by asking for a Massachusetts Avenue room on the 5th floor.) And tiny they are: the Queen Bed City View Rooms are 191 square feet, the king version is 275 square feet, and the largest offering, the Double Bed Rooms, are 278 square feet. It's especially rough going in the bathroom where the toilet, sink, and shower all rub against one another. It would be a challenge for a couple to simultaneously maneuver around in there.
The hotel hasn't had a major renovation since 2005, and it shows. In my room, the walls had stains, the furniture was banged up, the leather desk chair was fraying, the outlets were corroded, and the cheap towel rod fell apart a couple of times. The amenities aren't spectacular either. The fitness center feels 15 years behind the cardio times. The average-size pool was closed for the season on my fall visit. It looks run-of-the-mill and is open to the public, but it does have two decks with tables, chairs and loungers and poolside food and drink service.
Nearby, you can find more exciting boutique hotels like the Palomar and fancier upscale options like the Hotel Dupont and the Fairfax. And although the Embassy Row Hotel has a pool, kids' menu at the restaurant, and free coloring books and teddy bears, the hotel doesn't feel like a family hotel, unless the little ones tend to wear three-piece suits. Just four blocks away, the Embassy Suites Washington DC has much larger rooms.
This hotel is still worth considering for its lovely location and interesting mix of guests and staff. By the end of my night there, a small global community had gathered in the lobby bar to watch the World Series. During the later innings, it was filled with guys from a half-dozen states and a handful of countries, loosening up their ties, throwing back beers, and hooting and hollering, because no matter where people are from, everyone has an opinion about them Yankees.
Just northwest of downtown, Dupont Circle has been a bohemian enclave for decades.
The Dupont Circle neighborhood is a mix of brownstone-lined residential streets, art galleries, small shops, and restaurants and bars to fit every price range. It's convenient to the downtown tourist sites, but also a more down-to-earth neighborhood. It's also the historic center of the gay community in D.C. and home to Embassy Row.
Major downtown tourist sites, including the White House, the Mall, the Smithsonian, and U.S. Capitol, are 1.5 to 2.5 miles away, or a 10- to 15-minute drive.
Closest Metro stop, Dupont Circle, is a block away. The Red Line provides easy access to Union Station, Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan, and the zoo.
Two stops from Metro Center for transfer to Orange and Blue Lines, which go to the Smithsonian, the Air and Space Musuem, the Mall, the White House, and virtually every sight downtown.
Modern art museum the Phillips Collection, home to amazing assortment of impressionist works, is nearby.
Two great long-standing bookstores: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café and Lambda Rising
2.5 miles to Union Station, 15-minute cab ride
Six miles to Reagan National Airport, 20 to 30-minute minute cab ride; 30-minute metro trip from Dupont Circle
27 miles to Dulles Airport, a 45- to 60-minute cab ride
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