Washington Plaza Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Downtown, Washington, D.C., United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Rooms were renovated in 2012, and are cozy and pleasant
  • Terrific pool deck with large outdoor pool
  • Restaurant serves reasonably priced fare
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the building

Cons

Bottom Line

Renovated in 2010, this 1960s hotel has great rooms, one of the city's best outdoor pools, a distinctive retro lobby, and a convenient central location. For vacationing families, sightseers, or business travelers tired of D.C.'s many cookie-cutter Marriotts and Hiltons, the Washington Plaza is one of the best values in town.

Oyster Awards

We investigate in person.
Like your mother-in-law.

Categories

, , ,

Oyster Hotel Photos

View All 8 Albums

Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

This 50-year-old old landmark has one of the best pools in town, cozy and modern rooms, and an overall great retro feel.

Lobby has a great retro feel
Lobby has a great retro feel

Opened in 1962 and designed by architect Morris Lapidus -- of Miami Beach's Fontainebleau and Eden Roc fame -- the Washington Plaza stands out among the cookie-cutter Marriotts and Hiltons at the center of the city. Though the hotel's Thomas Circle location may be far from the coast, the 340-room curvy edifice still echoes Lapidus' trademark beach resort style. In its heyday, the hotel was the choice swimming hole for Jackie O. and the kids (the pool is still one of D.C.'s best, though the original dome covering it is long gone). Nowadays, the Washington Plaza hosts mostly families on a budget and European business guests during the off-season.

In 2009 and 2010, RB Properties -- which also manages the Hotel Lombardy, the Henley Park, and the State Plaza -- spruced up this property with the hopes of returning it to its original glory. With Mexican stone floors, Bauhaus Barcelona chairs, and vases from the Far East, the newly renovated lobby, restaurant, and bar/lounge maintain a fabulous retro feel. The hotel's renovated rooms are done up in a bold color scheme of plum, orange, and gold to reflect Lapidus' original design. Guest rooms and suites are cozy and cheerful (with either two full or one king or queen-size bed). The lovely original blue and white tiling in the bathrooms has even been restored. Modern touches include rain water showerheads, free in-room Wi-Fi, and 32-inch flat-screen TVs with HBO.

The Washington Plaza lacks some of the amenities you'll find in other large D.C. hotels. The fitness center, for example, doesn't have any weight-lifting equipment, plus guests must pay to use the business center (most chain hotels throw in the business center as well as Internet access for free). But this hotel is still an excellent value. The nearby Holiday Inn White House, another good bet for the neighborhood, has larger rooms, but the decor is slightly dated. If it's off-season and the pool is closed, guests may fare better at one of Kimpton's hotels in the area, such as the Palomar or the Hotel Madera, for their extras like a free nightly wine reception and morning coffee. But for some stylish nostalgia -- without the fuss or price tag of some of the city's more historic properties, like the Hay-Adams or the Jefferson -- stick with the Washington Plaza.

 Service

The basics you'd expect from a large hotel, all delivered by a friendly staff

The Washington Plaza provides all of the basic services you'd expect from a large hotel, and with a bit of charming formalness. During my stay, all hotel staffers referred to me as "madame."

  • Front desk/concierge can help guests with reservations, tour bookings, and sightseeing advice.
  • Dedicated concierge is available during the second half of the day and night on most days of the week.
  • Turndown service with chocolates
  • Same-day laundry and dry cleaning
  • When the pool is open, drink service and poolside dining is available from No. Ten Thomas.
  • Room service is available throughout the day
  • Valet parking is pricey (includes in and out privileges).

 Location

As central as you can get -- a short walk to popular sites, museums, and the Mall, and close to great restaurants and nightlife around Dupont Circle.

The Washington Plaza is in downtown, on the eastern side of Thomas Circle, where Vermont and Massachusetts Avenues, and L, M, and 14th Streets meet. The area straddles two very disparate neighborhoods: the bustling business district and the vibrant, flourishing residential section at 14th Street, near Logan Circle.

  • Three blocks to the McPherson Square Metro Station (Orange and Blue Lines), which provides easy access to the Smithsonian Center, the Mall, the White House, and virtually every sight in downtown
  • Five blocks to the Farragut North Metro Station (Red Line) for easy access to Union Station, Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan, and the zoo
  • 20 minute taxi ride to Reagan National Airport
  • 45 to 60 minute taxi ride to Dulles International Airport
  • Union Station -- D.C.'s main train station served by Amtrak, commuter railroads, and the metro system -- is five metro stops away.
  • Five minutes by foot to the White House
  • 10 minutes by taxi, or five minutes by metro (via Red Line), to the U.S. Capitol
  • 10 minute metro ride to the Air and Space Museum (via Orange Line)
  • Hotels staffers can call or hail a cab any time of the day; taxis are easy to come by on weekend evenings.
  • Hotel is three to eight blocks away from the many restaurants, shops, and nightlife of Logan and Dupont Circles.

 Rooms

Renovated in 2010, rooms are cozy, sensible, and cheerful -- a very good value.

The Queen Superior Room
The Queen Superior Room

The hotel compelted renovating all 340 guest rooms in 2010, and are all cozy, modern, and cutely decorated, with accents of plum, orange, and gold -- a far cry from the old wooden furniture and bland decor of the Washington Plaza's past. Guest rooms vary in size due to the building's curvy shape (the largest come in at around 500 square feet).

  • Superior (renovated) and standard (unrenovated) rooms have either a king, queen, or two double beds.
  • Beds are incredibly comfortable and have posturepedic pillow tops and 250-thread-count sheets.
  • Suites include a full-size pullout couch.
  • Renovated rooms have a large work desk.
  • Sunbeam alarm clock has MP3 player hookup capabilities.
  • Wall-mounted 32-inch LG flat-screen TV with basic cable, HBO, and movies on demand; unrenovated rooms have old tube TVs
  • Bathrooms are small but a pleasure; most basic rooms include only a shower stall, but they have the hotel's original blue and white tiling plus a rain water showerhead.
  • Bath and Body Works brand toiletries, and lots of fluffy towels
  • Free Wi-Fi in all guest rooms

 Features

One of D.C.'s finest outdoor pools, plus a business center and a fitness center

The pool
The pool

The large swimming pool is Washington Plaza's crowning jewel. At 25 feet long, it's big enough for laps and splashing. The pool deck offers one of D.C.'s best sunning refuges, far away from the city's grime and grueling politics -- with drink and food service, too. The hotel also has a business center and a fitness center.

  • Large outdoor pool open Memorial Day weekend to the weekend after Labor Day; drink and food service available during the swimming season
  • The fitness center on the lower level is on the smaller side, though comparable in size to other hotels in the city. It includes four treadmills, two elliptical machines, and one stationary bike, but no weight-lifting equipment.
  • Business center, also in the basement, has three desktop PCs, with an individual printer, plus an additional printer/scanner/copier (pay by credit card
  • Free Wi-Fi in all guest rooms and throughout the building
  • Valet parking is pricey (includes in and out privileges); self-parking also available for similar daily rates

 Family

An excellent choice, with one of the city's best pool decks, beautiful new suites, and a great central location

Pullout couch in a Superior Suite
Pullout couch in a Superior Suite

The Washington Plaza is a great choice for families. The self-contained resort-style property has a large seasonal pool, a decent (but not great) restaurant with reasonably priced fare, and a location that's close to just about everything D.C. has to offer. For families, the only problem with the cheerful new suites is the lack of a kitchenette -- so much for preparing meals in the room. For that, consider the Marriott Residence Inn just across the circle, which has full kitchenettes in the rooms.

  • Both standard and superior guest rooms come with either a king, queen, or two double beds.
  • Suites include a full-size pullout couch, but no kitchenettes.
  • Per night fee for rollaway beds and cribs
  • Large outdoor pool open Memorial Day weekend to the weekend after Labor Day
  • Kids' menu available at the restaurant and on room-service menu
  • Three blocks to the McPherson Square Metro Station (Orange and Blue Lines), which provides easy access to Smithsonian, the Mall, the White House, and virtually every sight in downtown

 Cleanliness

Clean and well maintained.

The hotel completed renovating all of the guest rooms in 2010, so the property is very clean. The lobby, restaurant, and pool area are all kept spotless as well.

 Food

Decent, but not particularly inventive restaurant, though the buffet breakfast is an excellent value

Omelette station at the buffet breakfast
Omelette station at the buffet breakfast

In general, food at this hotel is well prepared but not particularly interesting or inventive. It's just your basic continental fare: sandwiches, salads, simple pasta dishes, steak dinners, and fresh fish. The full buffet breakfast at $15 a person is a good value. Plus, the hotel is nearby plenty of fine restaurants and quick eateries.

  • No. Ten Thomas serves three meals a day.
  • The restaurant's buffet breakfast is extravagant (with both a hot and cold bar). The hot bar includes an omelet station, pancakes, waffle station, and plenty of side dishes like bacon and sausage.
  • The International Bar is a pleasant place to grab a quick cocktail, especially for happy hour each night, when they offer discounted beer, wine, and well drinks, plus bar snacks like hummus with crudités, buffalo wings, and sliders. The bar also serves tasty hand-cut potato chips for free.
  • During the warm season, drink service and poolside dining is available from No. Ten Thomas.
  • Room service is available throughout the day
  • The hotel is just four blocks away from a slew of restaurants on or around 14th Street and Logan Circle. Favorites include Stoney's, Logan's Tavern, and Thai Tanic.
  • Head south on 14th Street towards the mall for plenty of quick-eat places and Starbucks coffee shops.

 Bottom Line

Renovated in 2010, this 1960s hotel has great rooms, one of the city's best outdoor pools, a distinctive retro lobby, and a convenient central location. For vacationing families, sightseers, or business travelers tired of D.C.'s many cookie-cutter Marriotts and Hiltons, the Washington Plaza is one of the best values in town.

Things You Should Know About Washington Plaza Hotel

Address

  • 10 Thomas Circle Nw, Washington, DC 20005

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Washington Plaza
  • Washington Plaza Dc

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Premier Room
  • Standard Junior Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Standard Suite
  • Superior Junior Suite
  • Superior Room
  • Superior Suite

Enter dates for best prices

Check-in
Check-out
Guests
 AVG/NIGHT 
Hotels.com  
Expedia.com  
Tingo.com  
Booking.com  
Travelocity  
Otel.com  
Priceline.com  
CheapTickets.com  

All About Oyster

You Can't Return a Bad Vacation.

Our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.

Go undercover with an Oyster Investigator The Today Show
Go Undercover with an Oyster Investigator
See 56 Videos of Oyster on TV

Nearby Hotels to Consider

Residence Inn Washington, DC - Downtown
Residence Inn Washington, DC - Downtown
Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Rating: 30 Pearls

Distance: Less than 0.1 mi
Donovan House
Donovan House
Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Rating: 40 Pearls

Distance: Less than 0.1 mi
The Westin Washington, DC City Center
The Westin Washington, DC City Center
Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Rating: 35 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi
Homewood Suites Washington DC - Downtown
Homewood Suites Washington DC - Downtown
Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Rating: 30 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 340
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Downtown, Washington, D.C.
Address: 10 Thomas Circle Nw, Washington, DC 20005
(See Map)
Loading Live Rates
Loading...