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Oyster Hotel Review
Opened for business in 1976, the Hyatt Regency has a bold, angular '70s look -- the massive, 11th-floor walkway above New Jersey Avenue appears to defy gravity. Inside, you get a spectacular lobby (renovated in October 2008), but the guest rooms (last updated in 2005) look a bit worn out -- scuffed and stained carpeting and furnishings; some rust in the showerheads.
Were it not for the rooms, the Hyatt Regency would come highly recommended -- it has a great pool and fitness center. But if you need to stay in Capitol Hill -- a quiet, less-than-thrilling part of D.C. -- it's well worth considering two of the nearby boutique-y properties, the Hotel George and the newer Liaison Hotel. Both have much better (though smaller) guest rooms, great freebies, and, often, more affordable rates.
Prompt porters and desk staff; a helpful concierge
- 24 hour room service, but just salads and sandwiches (no hot food) after midnight
- Staff concierge, available throughout the day
- Evening turndown service, by request
- Self-service check-in kiosks in the lobby
- Free USA Today, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal in the morning
In the Capitol Hill area, a good springboard for sightseeing but a quiet area in the evening and on the weekends
The Hyatt Regency 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, like a liquor store across the street and the John L. Young Shelter for the Homeless next door, 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 right.
- Five-minute walk to the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court
- Five-minute walk to Union Station, D.C.'s major train station served by Amtrak and commuter rails
- 20 minute walk, or a 10 to 15 minute cab ride, to the White House and the center of the National Mall, which includes the Washington Monument, and the World War II Memorial
- Five-minute Metro ride to the Smithsonian Institution and the Air and Space Museum
- 20- to 30-minute taxi ride, or a 30-minute Metro ride to Reagan National Airport
- 45- to 60-minute taxi ride to Dulles International Airport
Average-size rooms, all a bit worn and in need of updating
Guest rooms haven't been renovated since 2005. This might not sound like a long time, but for a large-scale business hotel like the Hyatt, five years can be enough time to really wear a room out. To put it in perspective, the beds in most quality hotels -- a Westin, Marriott, Hilton, and most other Hyatt hotels -- typically look like they're on steroids, puffed up, fluffy, and inviting. Not here. The beds look anemic and flattened, like a couple of Cuban sandwiches straight out of the press. When I pulled back the sheets in my room I found the mattress itself was old and tattered. The brownish dull carpets look worn and dirty, ceilings seem lower than the norm, and, adding to that '70s vibe, the door apeared to be covered with the kind of faux dark wood laminate found in a 30-year-old rec room. In general, the rooms just don't look as new and nice as you'll find at most other hotels in the price range, including the nearby Hotel George and the Liaison Capitol Hill.
- Standard rooms are about 300 square feet, on the small side of average for a big-chain hotel room in D.C.
- Comfortable, but not exceptional, beds -- 300-thread-count sheets; down pillows; down comforter
- No iPod docs
- Nice size 5-foot-by-3-foot desk with lots of electric outlets
- Flat-screen TVs
- Fee for in-room and lobby Wi-Fi access
- No minibar
- No tub, just a shower; some rust stains on the showerhead
- White-ginger bath products; tube of promotional Aquafresh toothpaste
Rooms and Rates
While the hotel calls its gym a "health club" -- and it is a very nice fitness center with new equipment -- it's really a stretch to call it anything more than a gym. Unlike the health club at the Fairmont hotel, there are no saunas, locker rooms, personal trainers, squash courts, or spa services. Of course, the Fairmont charges for access to the gym -- at the Hyatt, access is free.
- StayFit Fitness Center with 11 brand new Life Fitness upper and lower body machines, 12 Life Fitness cardio machines (treadmill, bike and StairMasters), and lots of free weights
- Large, heated indoor lap pool
- Excellent, 24-hour FedEx business center in the basement; staffed during the day
- The ballroom and meeting rooms were renovated in January 2011
A big pool, but little else for families
The Hyatt might be fine for kids, but it doesn't really cater to them. The pool is large enough to keep little ones entertained, however, standard rooms are pretty cramped. Also, with the exception of the Capitol Building, most D.C. attractions are a long way from the hotel. For better options, check out our list of the best kid-friendly hotels.
Worn carpets; housekeeping issues
Carpets in the guest rooms are worn, and there are some stains on the furnishings and a few slight rust stains in the bathroom. In addition, I found the hallways to be littered with little wads of paper and crumbs throughout my stay.
Article One, the house restaurant, has an impressive view of the soaring atrium skylights; it sits in the middle of the lobby separated from it by massive, freestanding decorative dividers. Its lounge, at the other end of the lobby, has a sleek curved bar with flat-screen TVs. The lounge area includes working tables and seats for impromptu meetings and laptop space, as well as a cluster of cocktail tables and chairs. Semiprivate lounge areas can also be reserved for bottle service (for parties of 12 to 24 people), but it is relatively quiet at night, and not nearly as popular as the bar at the Liaison Hotel, across the street.
- Article One restaurant, entrees range from pan-seared halibut fillet to NY sirloin; especially busy during lunch
- 24-hour room service; late-night service includes sandwiches and salads, no hot food
- Article One Lounge also serves appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and pizza
- Other nearby restaurants include: Johnny's Half Shell (seafood favorite); The Dubliner (Irish pub); Capitol City Brewing Company (attached to the National Postal Museum); Bistro Bis, a contemporary French bistro at Hotel George, and Art and Soul, a nouveau southern restaurant at the Liaison Hotel.
- For something quick and cheap, try the food court at Union Station, two blocks away.
Supervised Kids Activities
|Things to Do||
Mini Bar (with liquor)
Separate Bedroom / Living Room Space
|Address||400 New Jersey Ave N.W., Washington DC, District of Columbia 20001, United States|
|Also Known As||