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“Quiet, comfortable, but lack of bathrooms a problem” 4 of 5 stars
Review of William Penn House

William Penn House
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William Penn House
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515 East Capitol St SE, Washington DC, DC Washington, DC (Capitol Hill)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #21 of 33 Washington DC B&B and Inns
Level Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Quiet, comfortable, but lack of bathrooms a problem”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2009

I stayed here on a one-night layover after a trans-Atlantic flight in a four-bed women's dorm. As the other reviewers said, the staff here are wonderful, the value is great and the location is second to none. I slept well in my bunk bed; my roommates were quiet and courteous. I even got up early enough to attend their 7:30 am Quaker worship service, at which you simply sit in silence and meditate - a tradition I appreciated. The breakfast was simple: bread (with a toaster), jams and peanut butter, a few cereals, a mixed fruit bowl, packets of Quaker (appropriately enough) instant oatmeal, coffee and tea. It was plenty for me. Clean linens and a towel and washcloth are provided, and the rooms are air-conditioned. The house is beautiful, too, and even has a library.

My main problem was that my four-bed dorm shared just one tiny bathroom (toilet and shower) with a neighboring eight-bed dorm. Fortunately, I was extremely jet-lagged and was able to take my shower at an odd hour in the early morning; I don't see how this system normally works, especially when the rooms are full. Of greater concern to me was the fact that the bathroom was, unlike the rest of the house, not at all clean, which is inevitable when so many people are using it.

The limited check-in time (9pm, though they do offer to keep the office open later for a fee) and the limited breakfast time (8-9 am only) may make this place inconvenient for some travelers, and the lack of lockers may make some uncomfortable, though it felt perfectly safe to me. If you're looking for inexpensive hostel-style accommodations in DC and need a later check-in/earlier breakfast/lockers/etc., I would suggest checking out the Hostelling International hostel, where I have also stayed and which I also highly recommend for travelers of all ages.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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18 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2009

I was a solo female traveler and I had a great time at William Penn House. The staff is very friendly, the building is clean, the beds are confortable. Only one bathroom for 10 girls, but I took a shower at night so I didn't have to wait in the morning. They offer fresh towels and linens. I could tell it was fresh out of the dry cleaner. A+

They serve a great free breakfast of oatmeal, toast, PB&J, cereals, orange juice and milk. There's also free coffee and tea. There's a fridge, shelves for your food. There's also a microwave. Very clean and big tables for breakfast. The free breakfast really cut on my expenses and since most of DC attractions are free (musuems, Capitol, Pentagon, etc), I spent about $20 a day during my stay!

The hostel is at a 10 minute walk from Capitol South metro station. I wish it was a bit closer since we do a lot of walking in DC, but it was still fine. Since it's near a metro station, you can easily go anywhere in the city for a very low cost (daily metro passes are $8, weekly passes are about $22).

They don't have lockers in the room, but I really felt safe leaving my luggages there. You can lock with zip lockers if you wish. But I felt really safe and didn't feel I needed to.

I recommended this hostel for any type of travellers, solo, family, groups, couple. I saw all kind of people in this great house. Thank you William Penn House and staff!

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redding, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2009

The William Penn House staff is incredibly helpful. They kept the office open until late at night to check me to accommodate the weird scheduling of flights between San Francisco and DC during the week prior to the Inauguration. On the night of the Obama for America Staff Ball, they called and held a taxi to the DC Armory for me. That same night they once again kept the office open late to accommodate my check-out and helped me make all my arrangements for late night travel to Dulles. You cannot ask for a more courteous and accommodating staff.

On top of having such a wonderful staff, WPH enjoys an insanely desirable location. The house is literally located five blocks south of the Capitol building, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Senate offices, and Washington Mall. Either direction out of the door is about a five minute walk to a DC Metro station. If you are a single person visiting the city for a political purpose and don't mind hostel accommodations, there really isn't a better place to stay than this place.

Finally, the value just boggles the mind. My free housing from Travel for Change fell through at the last minute and I booked this place literally the day before I had to leave for DC. Most other places were just gouging the crowds flooding into the city for the inauguration of our first black president. Accommodations at the William Penn House remained $40 a night. $40 a night for a killer location, helpful staff, and a decent room during the busiest week in the history of the city. I give this place my highest recommendation.

  • Stayed January 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about William Penn House

Address: 515 East Capitol St SE, Washington DC, DC Washington, DC
Location: United States > District of Columbia > Washington DC > Capitol Hill
Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 33 B&Bs / Inns in Washington DC
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The William Penn House is a hospitality center on Capitol Hill grounded in the Quaker faith. We provide overnight accommodations for travelers from around the world in an affordable community-based setting. Rooms are shared with 4-10 beds per room, and cost $40-$45 per person. Included are linens, towels, hot showers, and access to internet and computer. Our cooking facilities include, tea, coffee, microwave, toasters, and fridges. Books, games, meeting and living rooms available. We also serve a simple breakfast and can accommodate gluten free, lactose and vegan diets if given advanced notice. In addition, we work to engage people from all walks of life with issues of peace, social justice, and environmental awareness, through inward reflection, service, education, and community building. ... more   less 

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