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Oyster Hotel Review
Though it's famous for its political guests (and, too often, their misdeeds), this historic property is now just an outdated, 650-room Marriott-owned business hotel.
Since opening in 1925, the Mayflower has established an impressive reputation as one of D.C.'s "power hotels" for its inaugural events, high-profile guests, and, more recently, prominent affairs -- the famous photo of President Clinton and Monica Lewinksy embracing at a 1996 campaign event was taken here and New York governor Eliot Spitzer's resignation-inducing prostitute hookup happened in Room 871.
Such a history -- and the fact that the hotel markets itself as "Washington's Grand Dame" -- might inspire high expectations of the Mayflower. But just as the attention has turned from presidential grandeur to political misdeeds, so too has the quality of rooms, facilities, and service soured. As the hotel stays packed (almost always), most guests will feel more anonymous than distinguished. While the completely restored Beaux Arts lobby and its "Grand Promenade" are impressive, the grandeur of the space is often upset by the swirl of business travelers spilling out of meeting rooms on one end; bar-crowd runoff and 650 rooms worth of guests negotiating the other. The guest rooms, though comfortable, are small, fairly bland, and a bit out of date -- old tube televisions; no in-room safe; small bathrooms; no Wi-Fi (hard-wired available for a daily fee).
Overall, while the Renaissance has a great fitness center, a comparable gym, a better business center, and larger, more modern guest rooms are also available at the Westin Washington, D.C. - City Center, just a few blocks away. Also, if you're willing to sacrifice a classy lobby and restaurant, the often less-expensive Courtyard by Marriott Embassy Row has a great location, newer rooms, more freebies, and even a pool and Jacuzzi. To combat the dated style of this historic hotel, a multi-million dollar refurbish was launched with the mission of updating the lobby, restaurant, bar and retail spaces of the hotel, which were completed in the spring of 2012.
Efficient, not doting
Despite a large, competent staff that funnels guests through requisite lines, and a separate concierge who can field questions, service at the Renaissance Mayflower is not the kind that will go the extra mile to make guests feel well cared for. When I called to ask why my morning newspaper hadn't been delivered, for example, the concierge forwarded my call to the front desk, who explained that the hotel was almost out of the paper I wanted, and he didn't offer an alternative paper until I asked for one. Of course, instances like these are no big deal (and hardly worth complaining about at a hotel in this price range). But the attitude of the staff does make it hard not to feel like one insignificant guest among a thousand others.
- Room service not available 24 hours
- Concierge available throughout the day
- Free morning newspaper (delivered to the room, by request); choice of Washington Post, USA Today, or New York Times
- Evening turndown service (only by request)
- Pricey valet parking
Between Dupont Circle and the White House; a great springboard for seeing capital sites
The Mayflower is between Dupont Circle and the White House, with a Metro subway station located directly beneath the hotel. Though the immediate surroundings consist of a few dull restaurants and corporate offices (including ABC Studios), the hotel is within walking distance of Dupont Circle and the 14th Street corridor's restaurant and bar scene.
- Entrance to Thomas Pink just off the lobby (redone as part of 2011 renovations)
- Farragut North Metro stop entrance located around the corner from the hotel, on the Red Line, which serves Union Station and the National Zoo
- Two miles, or a 10-minute drive, to Union Station, D.C.'s main train station serviced by Amtrak, commuter rail lines, and the Metro
- 10-minute drive from the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building
- Five- to 10-minute drive from the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam memorial, WW II memorial, and other sites on the National Mall
- 10-minute cab ride to Reagan National Airport, which is also served by the Yellow and Blue Metro lines.
- 60-minute cab ride to Dulles International Airport
One might expect rooms that have hosted presidents and hidden political affairs to feel, well, fancy. Unfortunately, the guest rooms lack any of the hotel's historic Beaux Arts design and don't look much different from any other dressed-up Marriott.
- Standard Queen Rooms are 250 square feet -- smaller than most other D.C. hotel rooms.
- "Larger Rooms" -- with either a king or two double-size beds -- are nearly twice the size of the standard rooms (485 square feet).
- Comfortable beds: Marriott's signature pillow-top mattresses and high-quality sheets
- Smaller bathrooms with bathtub/shower units; Aveda toiletries
- Standard alarm clock radios (no iPod docks)
- No in-room safes; guests need to use the safes behind the front desk
- Minibar refrigerators remain locked unless you call the front desk and request that they be opened, ruining the sole reason to pay $5 for a can of Coke (convenience).
- Individual coffeemakers; coffee and tea are both free
- Flat-screen TVs
Rooms and Rates
- Large fitness center; 11 cardio machines in great condition, each with built-in TV monitors; cable weight machines; free weights; plenty of mat space
- Small business center, especially considering the size of the hotel, with just a single computer and some phone booths off the lobby hallway; computer use and printing costs extra.
- Large gift shop with a substantial selection of publications, snacks, and souvenirs
- ATM in the lobby
- Vast meeting space includes the ball room, which has hosted an inaugural ball for every presidential election since its opening in 1925.
Overly chaotic, without a child in sight
The Mayflower's massive, chaotic lobby, bar scene, and maze of hallways makes it less ideal for families with young children -- it wouldn't be too hard to lose a child among the crowds. Check our list of the best kid-friendly hotels for better family options in Washington, D.C.; in the downtown area, Washington Plaza is a great option.
Clean, but showing some wear in the guest rooms
Daily housekeeping keeps the hotel clean, but the dated furnishings and carpets are a bit older; not fresh and pristine.
Café Promenade, though beautiful, is still best described as "generic hotel food."
- Café Promenade's preparation and quality of food is good, but like many other chain-hotel restuarants, the menu is uninventive and overpriced. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea in a lovely dining room.
- Overpriced breakfast buffet
- The 2011 renovations introduced The Lounge, which serves decent, if unexciting, seasonal appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, as well as cocktails. Open for dinner.
- Room service is not available 24 hours
Transport to / from Hotel
Rental Car Service Desk Onsite
|Things to Do||
Mini Bar (with liquor)
Separate Bedroom / Living Room Space
|Address||1127 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC, District of Columbia 20036, United States|
|Also Known As||