Fee for Wi-Fi if you're not a Select Guest member (sign up is free)
Entry fee for gym access if you're not a Select Guest member (sign up is free)
Pricey parking (valet only)
For the most part, the Shoreham is a hulking, fairly bland-looking 834-room convention-focused business hotel. But there's more to this historic hotel. Evening turndowns; a beautiful outdoor pool; a great gym; a quaint but still convenient location just north of Dupont Circle; a haunted room on the 8th floor -- it's an excellent choice for the price.
Huge convention hotel with a pleasant location and a notable past
Built in 1930, the Shoreham Hotel joins the Renaissance Mayflower, the Hamilton Crowne Plaza, and a select few other D.C. hotels registered as Historic Hotels of America (Omni took over the Shoreham in the '90s). From the outside, the broad brick building can look like a castle, a prison, a Soviet-style block housing development (depending on where you're standing). But while its echoing ceilings, grand chandeliers, and allegedly haunted Ghost Suite nod to the hotel's past, the Shoreham is still very much a big, convention-focused business hotel. With eight floors, 834 guest rooms, and about 100,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space, it is one of D.C.'s largest hotels (though the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, just around the corner, tops it with 1,175 rooms). And since the 1950s and '60s, guests have transitioned from Frank Sinatra and The Beatles to Rush Limbaugh, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama (who snagged a presidential suite while still on the campaign trail). Today, business travelers and conventioneers account for about 75 percent of the hotel's visitors.
However, unlike other large-scale D.C. hotels (the Mayflower, Grand Hyatt, and Hyatt Regency among them) the Omni Shoreham's far more attractive location -- 11 acres of hilltop above Rock Creek Park, a small slice of nature between the livelier, more residential neighborhoods of Dupont Circle and Woodley Park -- and beautiful outdoor pool make it feel considerably more relaxing than the typical mega-hotel. And while the service isn't especially attentive -- you might have to open your own doors -- the Omni does offer some top-notch service perks, like nightly turndown service, 24-hour room service, spa services, and free coffee and OJ delivered to your door in the morning (for members of the Select Guest program, which you can sign up for free of charge). There is also the fairly popular Robert's Restaurant on-site, as well as the Morsel's coffee bar, Marquee Bar and Lounge. Room service is available 24 hours.
So while the hotel is not dazzling -- many rooms overlook a parking lot (despite the hotel's advertised "spectacular views"); bathrooms are a bit cramped; it's a short drive or a Metro subway ride from tourist attractions on the National Mall -- it is still a very comfortable choice at a fair price.
Excellent service for the price, but scarce personalized attention
The staff appeared to be a bit slim during my off-season visit -- no attendants at the fitness center or business center (as advertised); no porter around to help with checked bags -- but the staff that were present capably answered my requests, be it a concierge's recommendation for a sake bar, a prompt room service delivery at 1 a.m., or a fresh set of towels in the morning. As is common at large hotels, I rarely heard a friendly "hello" from a passing staff member, my room service tray sat in the hall overnight, and there was rarely someone standing by to help open doors. But for the price, the Shoreham offers an excellent array of services.
Evening turndown service -- no free chocolates or other treats, though
Poolside food and drink service; just raise the flag for a frozen cocktail
24-hour room service -- limited cold menu options late night
In-room massage services -- ample space in most guest rooms
Shoeshine services (for an extra fee)
Wheelchair access and Braille signage; TDD phones and alarms available on request
Valet parking, with in-out privileges, cheaper than at other D.C. hotels
Free USA Today delivered each weekday morning; Wall Street Journal also available
Tip: Join the "Select Guest" program before you go. It's free, and it will entitle you to a free newspaper, bottled water, juice, and coffee delivered each morning from room service as well as free Wi-Fi access and free access to the gym.
Woodley Park is a leafy residential neighborhood with its own small restaurant scene and the must-see National Zoo, but it's a bit farther from most D.C. attractions.
Located one Metro stop north of Dupont Circle, Woodley Park is a bedroom community in Northwest Washington filled with treelined streets and row houses. It's a quieter 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 array of international restaurants (from sushi to Irish pub fare) right around the Metro stop. Also, it's close to the hot spots: The heart of the young, rowdy, eclectic Adams Morgan neighborhood is less than a mile away.
The closest Metro stop, Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan, is about two blocks away (Red Line).
Jogging trails and exercise stations throughout Rock Creek Park, just outside the hotel
Subway 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
Four miles to Union Station, 20-minute cab ride or a 20-minute Metro subway ride on the Red Line
Eight miles to Reagan National Airport, 30-minute cab ride or 20- to 35-minute Metro trip to Woodley Park-Zoo stop
Especially large (most rooms) and very comfortable
Renovated in 2007, all of the guest rooms are clean, comfortable, and up to date. But as a consequence of the hotel's early construction (1930), rooms vary dramatically in size. The Deluxe Room, the standard room type, can be as small as 203 square feet and have barely enough space for a full-size bed. Or, for the same price, you can also end up with a 316-square-foot room with a king-size bed and (sometimes) a balcony. Fortunately, the small rooms are few -- less than 3 percent of the Deluxe Rooms have a queen-size bed or smaller.
Deluxe Rooms, the standard room type, range from 203 square feet (small) to 316 square feet (a bit bigger than the average hotel room in this price range); bed types range from one king, one queen, one full, two queens, or two doubles; "Get Fit Guest Rooms" include portable treadmill and "get fit kit."
Great beds: pillow-top Serta mattress; down pillows; down comforter as well as a polyfill-stuffed duvet with a 100-percent cotton shell; quality cotton-polyester blend sheets
Large, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, cable from LodgeNet includes on-demand movies and Nintendo 64 video games (both for an extra fee)
Wi-Fi is available, but the connection strength tends to fluctuate from good to poor (not fast enough to load video, for example). Normally, Wi-Fi in the room and in the lobby requires a fee. However, if you just sign up for the Select Guest loyalty program (for free), you get free Wi-Fi, as well as a number of other perks.
Large work desk with built-in power outlets; two dual-line phones; electronic safe, large enough for a laptop
Classic Suites (513 to 569 square feet) have either one king or two queen beds in single room partially divided by a wall in the center; an extra sofa bed is in the common space. One-Bedroom Suites (526 to 711 square feet) also have either one king or two queens with a separate living room and bedroom.
Presidential Suites (seven in all) are about 1,736 square feet, and include a dining room that seats eight, private library, a fireplace, and a balcony that overlooks the park; the Ghost Suite (basically, a two-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen) is alleged to be haunted by the hotel's original owner.
First-floor rooms on the East Promenade are smoking rooms.
Large, free-form, heated outdoor pool (open April through October, weather permitting)
Large fitness center with private TV screens and DVD players on the ellipticals and treadmills (not the other cardio machines); extensive strength-training machines; free weights and a bench press; reasonable space to stretch; lemon-infused water (no bottled water)
Access to the gym and pool is charged either per day or per stay, but it's free if you sign up (for free) to be an Omni Select Guest member.
Locker rooms (men's and women's) with a dry sauna
Massage, facials, pedicures and manicures available by appointment in the treatment rooms just outside the workout room (not traditional full-service day spa facilities)
Two 24-hour business centers -- one just off the lobby; another, larger business center on the west side of the building. Both have copy machines and printers, but computer access is steep. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property if you sign up with Select Guest (for free). Otherwise, it will cost you.
Given the Shoreham's excellent outdoor pool, ample space to play outside (assuming there's not a wedding going on), and a great location near the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, it is a fine choice for families in the summer.
All guest rooms (save the smallest Deluxe Rooms) can fit two double or two queen-size beds as well as an extra rollaway bed; Classic Suites (a popular option for families) come with either a king or two queens as well as a pullout sofa bed in an area partially divided from the rest of the room.
Kids' menu at the poolside grill
Free backpack upon arrival with games and treats from the Omni Sensational Kids program, including a first-aid kit, night-light, and outlet covers (for parents)