A stylish lobby, an acclaimed regional restaurant, modern guest rooms, and a hip rooftop pool and bar (open summers) makes The Liaison hotel (opened October 2008) one of the best hotels in Capitol Hill -- an area that's convenient to the Amtrak station and most major sites, but far from most of D.C.'s dining and nightlife.
This hip property on the Hill hits all the right notes -- a well-designed lobby, sophisticated rooms, an excellent on-site restaurant, and the hottest (though seasonal) pool deck in the neighborhood.
With bellhops in snazzy fedoras, the seasonal Rooftop Pool & Bar that stays open after dark, a lobby with eye-popping six-foot murals of path-making political icons like Martin Luther King and Margaret Thatcher, and a destination restaurant helmed by Oprah's former personal chef -- The Liaison (along with the Hotel George) brings some swank to sleepy Capitol Hill. Opened in October 2008, this sleek Joie de Vivre property (formerly an Affinia hotel) may be a bit too big to be considered a "boutique hotel" (343 guest rooms) but its personalized service and designer flourishes work to keep it feeling a bit more intimate than a hotel like the Hyatt Regency (across the street).
Overall, The Liaison is a great hotel -- as is the Hotel George, just around the corner. Each has its trade-offs -- you get a free nightly wine reception at the Hotel George, but you won't get The Liaison freebies and the Rooftop Pool & Bar -- but both are solid options and it might be worth just booking whichever happens to be cheaper. And both hotels beat the Washington Court, one block away, at least when it comes to on-site features and the overall wow factor.
In the Capitol Hill area, a good springboard for sightseeing but a quiet area in the evening and on the weekends
The Liaison is in Capitol Hill, an area filled mostly with drab 1970s-style office buildings. It's on the low-lying Judiciary Square section, which means it's surrounded by federal and county courthouses, law offices and the campus of the Georgetown Law School. Though this older part of the city has fallen on some hard times in the past, it is now reviving -- best evidenced by The Liason's own hip restaurant and bar scene, and that at its neighbor, the Hotel George. Yet, traces of its dicey past linger, like a liquor store on the block and the John L. Young Shelter for the Homeless down the street, and there's scarce nightlife and entertainment in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the hotel. But its location does have its advantages -- namely, it's a quick walk to the National Mall, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the White House, and other Capitol Hill sites. Plus, you don't have to venture far to see the U.S. Capitol Building -- just step out of the hotel onto treelined New Jersey Avenue, and look left.
Two blocks from Union Station, D.C.'s main train station serviced by Amtrak, the Washington Metro's buses and subways, and commuter railroads
Five-minute walk to the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress
10-minute walk to the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the start of many other museums and monuments along the National Mall
13-minute walk to the Verizon Center
15-minute walk to the White House
Hotel staff can call or hail a taxi any time, day or night.
$7 taxi ride to the Lincoln Memorial
$25 taxi ride from Reagan National Airport
$50 to $70 taxi ride from Dulles International Airport
Rooms at The Liaison Capitol Hill are comfortable, starting at 300 square feet, and feature luxurious beds, up-to-date technology, and modern furniture including a desk and bureau with images of former U.S. presidents. Deluxe and Superior Rooms are available, as are Suites. All were renovated in 2012, featuring more modern, streamlined design that exudes an intimate, sexy vibe. Deluxe Rooms (300 square feet) have one king-size or two queen-size beds; Superior Rooms (364 square feet) have one king-size bed
Suites (748 square feet) have one king-size bed and a spacious living and work area
Great beds --leather headboards; Egyptian cotton-blend sheets; lightweight down comforter
Large, 37-inch, flat-screen HDTV offers cable, HBO, and movies on demand
Small bathrooms have full-size bathtub/shower combos.
From its well-equipped and 2010-renovated fitness center, to its Mac computers in the business center, to its well-furnished Rooftop Pool & Bar, The Liaison Capitol Hill beats the features at the nearby Hotel George and the Washington Court Hotel. Unfortunately, the pool was closed during my visit, so the photos don't make it look as attractive as it did during the summer, but our D.C. sources say that the pool is one of the best in the city, as well as the largest. It has plenty of comfy lounge chairs and poolside food and drink services during open hours.
Small but serviceable 24-hour fitness center -- three treadmills, two elliptical machines, and two stationary bikes, plus an assortment of free weights and Nautilus equipment.
24-hour business center with two Mac desktops and a printer; given the size of the hotel, however, this small business center can be crowded at times.
Large, 1,100-square-foot seasonal rooftop pool (usually open from Memorial Day to Labor Day)
The rooftop pool makes this a decent family pick in the summer, but the hotel is more adult focused.
The prime family-friendly feature of The Liaison is its impressive rooftop pool, open in the warmer months. However, the pool can be restricted to adults (21+) during weekly parties. And, which might not be an ideal pick for families. For better options, check out our list of the best kid-friendly hotels.
Standard rooms with two queen-size beds are 300 square feet, and suites available
Free cribs, but no rollaway beds
Kids' menu at Art and Soul includes burgers and fries, mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs
Acclaimed nouveau southern restaurant onsite, but few other restaurants in the area
Though the immediate neighborhood lacks a wide variety of dining, The Liaison has done its best to remedy the problem with its own spotlight eatery, Art and Soul by the two-time James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Art Smith (perhaps better known as Oprah's former personal chef). Smith puts a modern spin on classic comfort food, like pecan-crusted chicken and maple glazed veal chops with chestnut puree and caramelized brussel sprouts (entrees range from $18 to $34). "Hoe cakes" -- a cornmeal flatbread traditionally served after a hard day's work -- is a house favorite that can come topped with everything from fried oysters to caramelized apples and blue cheese. The rest of the menu rotates between locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
Art and Soul serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch; open 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (or until 9 p.m. on Sundays).
24-hour room service from Art and Soul
Poolside menu (when the pool is open)
Other nearby restaurants include: Johnny's Half Shell (seafood favorite); The Dubliner (Irish pub); Capitol City Brewing Company (attached to the National Postal Museum); Bistro Bis, a contemporary French bistro at Hotel George.
For something quick and cheap, try the food court at Union Station, two blocks away.
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