A Pair of Capitol Reviews

One of my spring options for getting out of dodge is Washington, DC. I haven’t been there in about a year, so it might be time. Here’s a pair of reviews from my Trip Advisor contributions – both for fine lodging options ~ The Mandarin Oriental and The Dupont Circle Hotel:

From the gorgeous lobby, to the perfectly appointed rooms, the Mandarin Oriental is an exquisite hotel for when you’re looking for something special. I was lucky enough to stay for a wedding and got the wedding rate – not sure how exorbitant it might be otherwise, but for a splurge, and the impeccable service and sundries that go along with it, it’s not a bad deal. Easily the best part is the staff, who were accommodating with an early check-in, and oversaw every detail and question – from cabs and directions, to complimentary fruit bowls and artisanal chocolates, to a bookmark on the book I left beside the bed. That sort of attention to detail, and the anticipation of pleasing a customer, is never unappreciated. Room is nicely laid-out, and the king-size bed was comfortably adorned, but it was the marble bathroom that is truly impressive – immense and expansive, it was a spa-like experience in itself. The shower and bath amenities were nicely selected, and generously proportioned – enough for two people to use twice during a day, and helpfully replenished for both the bath and the shower area.


Additionally, while never a big spa person, I decided to try the facilities here since the Mandarin has been so widely touted as having such luxurious spa amenities. And they were absolutely well-deserved. A pristine and grand swimming pool surrounded by several large circular settees provided a perfect respite from the outside world, while the sauna and steam-room were clean and perfectly kept. The showers were elegant, and the entire atmosphere instilled a sense of peace and calm, from the comfortable low-lighting, to the ambient soothing music. I would go back for the spa alone. The wedding was held in one of the spacious ballrooms, and this too was perfect – sumptuous, yet elegantly restrained and refined. All in all, a wonderful stay at an excellent establishment, highly-worthy of all its accolades.

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If there’s one thing you want on one of the windiest and coldest nights Washington, DC has seen this year, it’s a heated bathroom floor. Having never had the pleasure of experiencing one until my recent stay at the Dupont Circle Hotel, I can whole-heartedly say it is a life-changing experience. The rest of the hotel offered a similar eye-opening pleasure, starting with the friendliest hotel staff I’ve come across in a long while.From the doorman to the check-in clerks to the ever-present Concierge, everyone was exceptionally, and genuinely, attuned to the needs and comforts of their guests. Service in the attached Bar Dupont and Café Dupont would prove just as gracious later on in the stay, but for the first impression, the hotel staff made check-in a pleasure, even for a disheveled traveler straight off the plane and Metro.

The Dupont Circle Hotel manages the tricky balance of blending a very modern and chic style with an elegant warmth. So many hotels sacrifice the inviting and welcoming for the cold and clinical in the name of being cutting-edge. This is that rare breed that successfully melds contemporary panache and classic comfort (and I seriously cannot extol the virtues of that impressive heated bathroom tile floor enough).

The room itself is expansive, with an almost-open bathroom plan that makes impressive use of strategically-placed frosted glass. It’s sufficiently private for those who are shy, yet open to the extent that it adds dramatically to the open-space feel of the room.

One of the successful design tricks the hotel uses to great effect is the varying textures found throughout – a suede-like gray wall covering in the hallways, a glossy dark burlap-like texture backing the bed, a cream-colored leather chaise, the smooth marble walls of the bathroom, the mottled dark stone of the floor – it all works together to embrace and cushion, so the whole experience is one of sensual delight and constant discovery. From the crimson ginger and anthurium blossoms of the lobby to the fiery velvet pillows on the bed, there are judiciously-placed pops of color that set this space apart from so many modern rooms and their unwavering beige/brown/black palettes.

Oddly enough, most hotels today make rudimentary use of the most important piece of design – the lighting – settling for standard floor and table lamps, and one lonely entry-way ceiling light. The Dupont Circle Hotel offers a variety of lighting sources, and, perhaps most important, a dimmer switch on the extensive but never overbearing overhead spots. While one bedside reading lamp was not working, it seemed a small issue in the overall scheme.

There is an electric ‘do not disturb’ light that goes on when you lock the door (that also illuminates the room number outside your door) – unless the light isn’t working, which in this case made for an earlier-than-wished-for knock from housekeeping, but other than that the experience was perfect.

As the winds barreled down and the snow squalls swirled, it was easier to stay on-site and check out the popular Bar Dupont (loud and crowded, but bustling with happy revelers) and the Café Dumont (better than standard hotel fare, with a French twist). I would definitely stay here again, without hesitation. (And did I mention the heated bathroom floor? Good, because it bears repeating.)

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