- Foggy Bottom neighborhood is far from most sightseeing spots and fairly empty at night.
- Wi-Fi is charged per night; spotty in-room connection.
- Business center services cost extra.
- Small, uninviting pool
"You know, it's a Westin." That would be my first response if you asked how my stay was at the Westin Grand. Cheap shorthand, sure, but effective. The translation? Pleasant, but pretty generic -- you won't find particularly innovative design, fun extra touches, or variety in the artwork or room layouts. Yet rooms are clean and comfortable, with all the Westin signatures you find in all the chain's hotels -- white-tea-aloe bath products and those popular "Heavenly" beds -- and the service is efficient and cordial, but not doting. In other words, it's just what you'd expect from an upper-middle-range chain hotel in the middle of a big city. It's a lot like describing a Starbucks ("You know, it's a Starbucks ..."), which, incidentally, is another Westin staple: Every room features a coffee machine and several bags of Starbucks brew. The hotel also has a lounge and restaurant on site. Dusk serves wine, microbrews, and small plates, while the M Street Grill is open for breakfast and lunch daily. For sit-down dinner, guests will have to look elsewhere.
That said, this Westin distinguishes itself in several key ways. First, its small lobby and eight-story layout -- the hotel resembles an apartment building -- help lend the place a boutique vibe. Nice extra touches like flavored water in the lobby and cocktail hours (apple cider in the winter) three to five evenings a week add to the intimacy. Also, the Westin's main themes (wellness, peace of mind, and an emphasis on the senses), which are often more gimmickery than anything else, actually manifest themselves at the Westin Georgetown. The restaurant serves healthy fare; the hotel manager occasionally leads morning jogs; and a pleasant scent fills the air in the lobby.
With these midsize, business-oriented hotels, a huge factor is inevitably how recently the property, and especially the rooms, were renovated. In that respect, the Westin Georgetown comes out ahead of most of its competitors. All rooms were renovated in 2008; with the exception of a few small nicks and stains, my room looked great. At about 350 square feet, the standard rooms are average size for a Washington hotel, but they seemed to me plenty spacious. They're also fairly average priced relative to the competition, though like many hotels in D.C., the Westin can get pricey on certain busy nights.
You can't really go wrong with any of the Westin's Foggy Bottom neighbors. Although most are high-end places -- the Ritz, the Fairmont, the Park Hyatt -- the Washington Marriott and Embassy Suites are solid midrange alternatives. Then again, you can't go too wrong with the Westin Georgetown either.
Despite the name, the Westin sits in the heart of the West End, Georgetown's decidedly sleepier, less interesting neighbor. The downside to the neighborhood is that most popular tourist attractions are a bit of a hike; and it doesn't have many restaurants, cafes, or bars. For those, you'll need to head to Dupont Circle, a 15- to 20-minute walk (or quick taxi), or to nearby Georgetown.
A step up from the standard big chain hotels in D.C., the Westin Georgetown offers good spaces and a broad range of menu options at slightly more reasonable prices than at more prominent D.C. hotels.
If you only have two days in Washington, D.C., you will probably want to visit the war memorials and monuments…
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