This 212-room budget hotel has small and dated guest rooms, gloomy hallways, grimy elevators, and a mediocre restaurant. But there's an outdoor pool, staffers are gracious, in-room Wi-Fi is free, and the location is convenient to the White House and Dupont Circle. Best of all, the beds are surprisingly comfortable.
This drab, 212-room, 10-story budget hotel was last renovated in 2004 -- though it received a couple of updates in 2009 -- and the outmoded guest rooms, gloomy hallways, and grimy elevators now need serious updating. The wholly unremarkable cafeteria-like restaurant and bar, Avenue Cafe, is closed for lunch, which also means limited room service hours. And the small, lackluster fitness center doesn't inspire one's personal best.
But amid that bad news, guests at this Holiday Inn can find some genuine bright spots: gracious staffers, free in-room Wi-Fi and HBO, a seasonal outdoor pool, a convenient downtown location that's a 15-minute walk from both Dupont Circle and the White House, and -- above all -- surprisingly comfortable beds. The rooms, small at 225 square feet for the Regular King Room and 275 square feet for the Regular Double, are otherwise dingy and unattractive. TVs were old tube TVs when I was there (now all rooms have 37-inch flat-screen TVs), and there's only an empty mini-fridge instead of a stocked minibar. So it comes as a shock to lie down on the pampering Holiday Inn Bedding Collection Serta mattress and select a firm synthetic, medium down, firm down, or U-shaped neck pillow from the pillow menu.
A better alternative nearby -- and an overall better value -- is the Washington Plaza Hotel, which has nice rooms, a great outdoor pool and pool deck, an iconic building, and a central downtown location on Thomas Circle. Or, for a heated indoor pool with a view, large bathrooms, and free bottled water, check out the Four Points by Sheraton Washington D.C., located smack in the middle of downtown's K Street business district.
Contrary to its name, the Holiday Inn Washington-Central/White House sits on the outermost fringe of the downtown. It's just off Massachusetts Avenue and a 15-minute walk to the Dupont Circle Metro stop (Red Line). But the hotel is much closer to Logan Circle, Scott Circle, and the strip of restaurants, pubs, and shops on P Street between Logan Circle and 15th Street, a formerly down-and-out area now populated by restored apartment buildings, a Whole Foods supermarket, and hybrid cars.
The surrounding, diverse Dupont Circle neighborhood is a longtime spirited gathering spot for progressive, socially-minded types; coffeehouses, bars, restaurants, and upscale retail shops abound. It's the place to head for a vegan dessert, a gay bar, or to buy fresh produce on Sundays at the farmers' market. With numerous options for nightlife (and frequent crowds), Dupont Circle is ideal for travelers who want to get out of "old downtown" and stay in a neighborhood where locals actually live. It's also home to Embassy Row.
Hotel is steps away from the short but convenient strip of restaurants, pubs, and shops of P Street between Logan Circle and 15th Street.
Hotels can call or hail cabs anytime; taxis are easy to come by on weekend evenings.
0.7 miles to the White House; three-minute cab ride or 15-minute walk
2.3 miles to the U.S. Capitol; 10-minute cab ride
Union Station, D.C.'s main train station served by Amtrak, MARC commuter rail, and the Metro subway and bus system, is five Metro stops away from Dupont Circle on the Red Line; or a 10-minute cab ride.