- Pricey valet parking (typical for D.C.)
- Foggy Bottom neighborhood is far from most sightseeing spots and fairly empty at night.
Perfect blend of highbrow and low-key
Opened in 1986 and fully renovated in 2006, the 216-room Park Hyatt may be the best all-around luxury hotel in D.C., but it's not fussy or stuffy in the least. Its only visible flaw might be its sleepy Foggy Bottom location, which, though convenient to Georgetown, the State Department, and George Washington University, isn't ideal for exploring the Mall, the White House, or the monuments.
Forget the "Hyatt" in the hotel's name. The guest rooms are large (at least 408 square feet) and feel even bigger, thanks to New-York-based designer Tony Chi's contemporary lines, artful touches, and peaceful interiors. Chi has worked on restaurants for star chefs including Alain Ducasse and Wolfgang Puck, as well as hotels for the InterContinental brand, and dubs his aesthetic "invisible design" -- the point is not what you see in a room, but how what you see makes you feel. His bathrooms make you feel rapturous; they're positively sumptuous -- many are covered in limestone and feature exposed, walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads and separate tubs.
Service here is consistently gracious yet unobtrusive; room service operates continuously. The hotel's attractive fitness center and indoor pool area with separate Jacuzzi are first-rate. And its Lounge and Bar and Blue Duck Tavern are not only gastronomically celebrated, but they're also D.C. power-player hangouts.
With the exception of its drowsy locale, the Park Hyatt is truly in a league of its own in this town, even among formidable big-shots like the Four Seasons in Georgetown and the Ritz-Carlton (properties in Foggy Bottom and Georgetown). Comparably luxurious D.C. properties may include the Jefferson (excellent location, beautiful design); the Mandarin Oriental (good restaurants, stunning pool and spa); and the storied Hay-Adams (across the street from the White House, famous bar), but the Park Hyatt sustains such a consistently high level of serious comfort, first-class service, meticulous attention to detail, and quiet luxury that it's virtually unbeatable -- even among its stiff competition.
Nothing short of impeccable
The Park Hyatt expertly imparts an extraordinarily high level of service. Employees address guests by their surnames. This hotel espouses the kind of inconspicuous practices where if you remove a bottle of Evian water from the fitness center basket, it's replaced almost immediately, but you never actually see the staffer do it.
The Park Hyatt has a convenient location in the West End, though it's decidedly sleepier than Georgetown, its wealthier, more historic neighbor that's a 10- to 15-minute walk west. The downside to the neighborhood is that there aren't many restaurants, cafes, or signs of life -- for those you'll need to head to Dupont Circle, a 15-minute walk (or quick taxi), or nearby Georgetown.
Huge, hushed, and heavenly
In the quiet, subtly opulent, Tony-Chi-designed guest rooms, comfort and attention to detail are paramount. Sculpture, artwork, and coffee table books are artfully arranged; lighting works on dimmers; and the entire space is bathed in warm woods and calming ochre and light-gold tones. Park Deluxe Rooms are 408 square feet, while Premiere Park Deluxe Rooms measure 618 square feet -- some of the largest standard rooms in D.C. (There are also 1,224-square-foot and 1,632-square-foot Premier suites.) Bathrooms are sprawling and luxurious, and many feature beautiful walk-in limestone showers with rainfall showerheads.
Plenty of amenities for almost everyone -- except spa junkies
The hotel is chock-full of impressive features -- including an attractive fitness center with indoor pool and separate Jacuzzi -- and even though it lacks a spa (unlike the W), the Park Hyatt's offerings are some of the finest in town.
No weight limit for dogs and cats
Pets are welcome, but require a nonrefundable deposit for each animal during the stay; hotel provides pet beds and food and water bowls at no extra charge.
Not the place to bring the gang for a family reunion
While there's plenty of space for families with youngsters to spread out, the refined environment clearly communicates: Leave the kids at home. And the Foggy Bottom location isn't as convenient to the Mall or Smithsonian Museums as the Marriott Residence Inn in Southwest, or the Carlyle Suites Hotel, which is one Metro stop from the National Zoo.
Inside and out, every corner of the Park Hyatt is supremely clean and superbly well maintained.
Almost no reason to eat out -- except for very dear prices
President Obama and First Lady Michelle chose to spend an anniversary dinner at the Park Hyatt's upscale Blue Duck Tavern (staffers were still buzzing about the excitement during my stay), which Tony Chi designed with an open kitchen, woodburning oven, and hardwood floors. The sublime menu emphasizes local ingredients. The award-winning fare is also offered in the hotel's private event space, The Gallery, which was renovated in 2011. Slightly more informal, the intimate and dimly-lit Lounge and Bar are just off the lobby, yet feel private, and serve artisanal cocktails (plus bowls of pistachios on the bar). The charming, adjacent Tea Cellar, with teas from around the world in lovely glass teapots, is open daily. You'll be thankful for these fine, albeit costly, choices in a neighborhood that offers very few.
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