Business center and meeting and event space, including ballroom
Private on-site parking and valet parking (for a fee)
Most rooms lack coffee/tea-making facilities
Many rooms have internal views, making them dark
No pool or spa
Pricey valet parking
This 237-room upscale hotel, part of a French-owned international chain, opened in 2002 in a former office building. With its spacious rooms, stylish bistro and bar, and a decidedly European feel in the center of old downtown near Lafayette Park and the White House, it's popular with both international and domestic business travelers and families. Its setting practically around the corner from the White House can't be beat, except perhaps by the Hay-Adams. Guest rooms are stylish and equipped with modern tech like 55-inch flat-screen TVs and Bose sound systems, but most lack coffee/tea facilities. There's a well-equipped fitness center on-site, but the property lacks a spa; for that, travelers might want to check out the W or The Jefferson.
This upscale hotel (part of a French-owned chain), which opened in 2002 in a circa-1880 former office building, feels like a petit pocket of Paris. You can regularly hear French being spoken by welcoming staffers as well as guests -- the hotel attracts many visitors from France and Canada, and most of the chic, well-dressed guests are here on business (many are repeat guests).
The hotel feels smaller and more intimate than its size would suggest. The chic lobby is awash in creamy hues contrasted by a grand and swanky green velvet sofa with a dramatic high back. Beautiful orb chandeliers hang above it from a coffered ceiling. Sofitel's Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar are cool, low-key spots for a quiet drink or dinner -- but visitors hoping for a velvet-rope or thumping rooftop bar scene might want to try the W Hotel instead.
Service at the Sofitel feels surprisingly personal for a hotel of this size. All staff is unfailingly polite and helpful, and execute requests quickly and efficiently. Most address guests by name as often as possible, and give guests the option of speaking French. While the hotel happily receives children, the guest rooms have plenty of space, and the downtown location is ideal for walking and sightseeing, the Sofitel feels tranquil, grown up, and business-like -- not like a place for youngsters to frolic. The on-site restaurant does offer a kids' menu though.
Around the corner from the White House and Lafayette Park
In the heart of old downtown, on the corner of 15th and H Streets and just steps from Lafayette Park, the only way to get closer to the White House is to stay at the Hay-Adams. Lots of must-see historic sights are within easy walking distance, but while the immediate area around the hotel is bustling with nine-to-fivers during the day, it can border on desolate at night. Your only dining and drinking options in the immediate area are on-site, at other hotels like the Hay-Adams or the Jefferson, or at nearby Bobby Vans Steakhouse or Woodward Table.
One block to Lafayette Park; two blocks to the White House
One-minute walk to closest metro stop, McPherson Square (Blue and Orange Lines)
17-minute walk to Washington Monument; five minutes by cab, depending on traffic
Eight-minute metro ride to the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, or 10-minute drive
Nine-minute metro ride to the National Air and Space Museum
14-minute metro ride to Union Station
17-minute metro ride to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or 15 minutes by cab, depending on traffic
20-minute metro ride to U.S. Capitol building; 10 minutes by cab
35-minute drive (depending on traffic) to Washington Dulles International Airport, or around an hour via public transportation
Large and stylish rooms with modern technology and sleek bathrooms with separate showers and tubs
Guest rooms are pleasantly spacious and well designed, with tasteful furnishings, soothing monochromatic tones peppered with red accents, and framed black-and-white photos of Paris and D.C. A crimson accent pillow here and there, a burgundy framed line drawing popping against a black wall, or a cheery red sofa add style and pep to the black and white hues, while patterned carpets and bed runners also add visual interest. Most rooms don't offer any views, however, and overlook an internal courtyard, neighboring buildings, or the street. Guests should note that the windows do not open.
Large by D.C. standards, entry-level Superior Rooms start at 370 square feet (34 square meters), while suites range between 426 square feet (40 square meters) and 1,800 square feet (167 square meters). They're quiet -- even those that face busy 15th Street -- and equipped with modern electronics, including 55-inch flat-screen TVs and Bose sound systems with iPod docks. Other standard amenities include minibars, electronic safes, irons/ironing boards, work desks, and free Wi-Fi, but only some suites have coffee/tea-making facilities (free coffee and tea are available at the bar in the mornings). Suites have sitting areas or separate living rooms with pullout sofas. Marble bathrooms are large, sleek, and modern, outfitted with walk-in rainfall showers and separate tubs. Lanvin or Hermes toiletries are provided, as are hairdryers and Frette robes and slippers.
No pool or spa, but a well-equipped fitness center in the basement, and tasty food and drink from Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar
Though its list of amenities isn't enormous (no spa, small business center), somehow the Sofitel doesn't feel lacking in perks. The attractive SoFit fitness center is open 24/7 and outfitted with Technogym equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals with personal TV screens, circuit-weight-training equipment, and free weights, plus there's space for stretching and yoga.
Ici Urban Bistro and Le Bar sit across the lobby from each other. Ici Urban Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, while Le Bar serves free coffee and tea in the morning, as well as food and drinks in the evening. Le Bar has a full bar in a casual, supper-club-like setting with red and black hues, settees, and cocktail tables. Both dining options have street-level patios. There is 24-hour room service available, and it includes menus for children and pets. Note that some guests complain that breakfast is expensive.
The business center is open 24/7 and equipped with three computers and a printer. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. Meeting and event space is available, including a 1,700-square-foot ballroom. Other perks include same-day laundry/dry cleaning, free overnight shoeshines, and nightly turndown service. Private indoor and valet parking are available for a fee.
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