Somewhat isolated from most D.C. tourist attractions
Some housekeeping and maintenance issues
Fees for daily in-room Internet and calls within continental U.S.
Painfully strong water pressure (really)
Pesky business center charges
Overnight self-parking and valet with in-out privileges are both pricey
Tucked away in a leafy residential neighborhood near the National Zoo, D.C.'s biggest hotel is a blur of conventioneers -- huge meetings are its bread and butter. The Washington Marriott Wardman has lovely grounds, a decent fitness center, and pleasant common areas; but in this price range, leisure travelers can usually do better than its run-of-the-mill chain rooms and (somewhat) out-of-the-way location.
While wandering about the manicured 16-acre grounds at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, I came across a formerly homeless veteran pacing back and forth, nervously practicing a speech he was going to deliver at the Homeless Veterans Summit. And that was just one of a handful of separate events taking place on a Monday and Tuesday in early November. There was also a 700-plus-attendee Society of International Affairs convention, a swanky reception for the Algerian Embassy, and a Veterans Affairs marketplace in a huge basement room with capacity for 2,000 people. Keep your head up or you could take a lanyard in the eye.
If you aren't there on business, however, the Washington Marriott Wardman leaves plenty to be desired. For guests who don't plan on spending every waking hour in the hotel or Woodley Park, the leafy residential neighborhood where its based, the hotel is not in the heart of well, anything. The National Zoo is only a couple of blocks away and open every day of the year except Christmas, but the rest of the city's major tourist attractions are relatively far. (On the upside, there's a Metro subway stop basically on the Marriott's doorstep.) It's sleepy right around the hotel, so nightlife options require heading over to Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle.
The King Guest Room I stayed in was standard issue for a midlevel business hotel. At 275 square feet, the room was on the small side, and it had a few minor maintenance and housekeeping issues: The shower curtain was stained, the pipes under the sink leaked, and one of the sheets was ripped. On the upside, it was generally clean, the Marriott mattress was comfortable, and electronics included a 32-inch flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, and a full AV outlet if speakers need to practice their PowerPoint presentations in bed.
The older Wardman Tower section of the hotel has a stately historical feel to it, and the lobby center offers a nifty homage to the Washington Monument and the Capitol, but the rest is garden-variety corporate. After the hotel underwent a $100-million renovation, everything appears well-maintained and modern, but not in any exciting or unique way. Across the board, the service was efficient, but far from personable or personalized.
Less expensive, more happening Dupont Circle options with more interesting rooms, and better restaurants include the Hotel Palomar and the Hotel Madera. Even chain hotels like the Embassy Suites Convention Center or the Marriott Washington make more sense for the hardcore sightseer. On the weekends, the Marriott Wardman could offer tranquil nights apart from the tourist-filled days, but during the week, it's all about conventions and their attendees.
Woodley Park is a leafy residential neighborhood with its own small restaurant scene and the must-see National Zoo, but not much else.
Woodley Park is a bedroom community in NW Washington D.C. filled with treelined streets and rowhouses, a quiet alternative to the hustle and bustle of downtown or even the partiers in DuPont Circle, but not centrally located. The biggest attraction is the 163-acre National Zoo and its beloved giant pandas, but there's also a decent restaurant scene right around the Metro stop. It's close to the hot spots: The heart of young, rowdy, eclectic Adams Morgan neighborhood is less than a mile, and Dupont Circle is one Red Line Metro stop away.
Four miles to Union Station, 20-minute cab ride
The closest Metro stop, Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan, is almost on the doorstep.
Eight miles to Reagan National Airport, 30 minute cab ride or 35-minute Metro trip to Woodley Park-Zoo stop
30-mile, 45- to 60-minute ride to Dulles Airport
Train from Woodley Park-Zoo to Metro Center (a downtown station with three lines) is three stops, about 20-minutes.
Two miles to the White House
Three miles to the center of the Mall
3.5 miles to the Smithsonian Institution
Four miles to the U.S. Capitol
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