Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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 Affinia property 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).
But as an Affinia hotel, an established hotel group with just a few other properties in the U.S. (including five hotels in New York City), it comes with some well-practiced comforts. Notably, the "My Affinia" program, which lets you create a profile of preferences prior to your stay, comes with some great freebies like contact lens solution, a universal charger, a fitness kit with a yoga mat, ankle weights, and exercise DVDs, plus an extensive pillow menu that includes, among others, a "sound pillow" with built-in speakers and an iPod hookup.
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 My Affinia 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.
Personalized service to meet a diverse set of needs
The Affinia brand allows guests to personalize their stay -- whether you want a specialty pillow, a yoga mat, birthday cupcakes, or a bottle of champagne chilling in the room. The hotel is happy to take a guest's requests before -- via the My Affinia website -- or in person, once you settle into the room.
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.
Modern and comfortable, though a bit small
Rooms at The Liaison Capitol Hill are comfortable, starting at 300 square feet, and feature luxurious signature Affinia 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.
Excellent features, including the seasonal Rooftop Pool & Bar
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.
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.
Built in October 2008 and still sparkling
This relatively new property has no trouble keeping up appearances.
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.
Four-legged friends are VIPs here.
The Affinia hotel brand is known for pet-friendliness, which they call their "Jet Set Pet Program." If a guest calls or emails The Liaison before arriving to say that Fido is hitting the Capitol, the hotel will provide welcome treats and a welcome walk.
A stylish lobby, an acclaimed regional restaurant, an extensive pillow menu, 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.