Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This 266-room property, renovated in 2009, is fine if you need to be near Capitol Hill, but isn't even one of the best options in the neighborhood.
The Washington Court is a perfectly fine hotel in many respects. But if you're not in town to do business on Capitol Hill or to specifically visit the sights on and around the Hill, there is no reason to stay in this part of town (see Location, below). And if you do want or need to be near the Hill, there are a couple of better options.
Which is not to say that the Court doesn't have its draws ("charms" would be overstating it). What often separates business-oriented hotels from one another is the newness of the properties, particularly the rooms, and the Court renovated everything in 2009. The rooms are clean and spacious, the beds are comfortable, the bathrooms are roomy, and the technology includes 37-inch high-def flat-screens and in-room Wi-Fi (though my connection was frustratingly slow one night). The amenities are big-city hotel standards: gym, business center, and meeting space.
But it also has some distinct weaknesses. The service I received was generally efficient but impersonal. And in one case I actually felt ill-treated: When I arrived to check in, the front desk clerk curtly told me my room wasn't ready, and that I should come back at 4 p.m. (Check-in officially starts at 3 p.m., but I've rarely had trouble checking in early, in D.C. or elsewhere.) I would have brushed it off as a one-time thing, except that I had read the exact same complaint from other guests on Trip Advisor; and the clerk didn't apologize for the inconvenience -- or even offer to have someone come and store my bags while I waited. The hotel's restaurant, Bistro 525, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, but the fare is basic Euro-American and doesn't pull guests from outside of the hotel.
I was also put off by the hotel's misleading website. The Court's homepage describes it as a luxury hotel, but it simply isn't in the same class as any of D.C.'s genuinely high-end properties in terms of amentities, style, or, well, luxuriousness. And those views of the Capitol Building the website mentions? Trust me, nothing to boast about. I saw the view from a suite on the 12th floor -- one of the best in the hotel -- and all you could see was the tip of the dome.
None of that amounts to a capital (capitol?) offense, of course. But of the three other hotels in the neighborhood, two, and possibly all three, are better. The similarly priced Liaison Capitol Hill offers a destination restaurant, a seasonal pool deck, and far more style and uniqueness. There's the Hotel George, an excellent (albeit much pricier) luxury option. Finally, there's the Hyatt Regency, which is the opposite of the Court: It has inferior, outdated rooms, but is superior in every other way.
In the Capitol Hill area, a good springboard for sightseeing but a quiet area in the evening and on the weekends
The Washington Court 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 hip restaurant and bar scenes at the Hotel George and the new Liaison Hotel. Yet, traces of its dicey past linger 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.
The Court boasts a location near Union Station and the Capitol. But if you're visiting D.C. for fun, there's little reason to stay in this part of town, which is sleepy by day, desolate by night. If you're doing business on the Hill, we prefer similarly priced The Liaison.