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“Comfy and Interesting” 4 of 5 stars
Review of William Lewis House

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William Lewis House
2.5 of 5 Bed and Breakfast   |   1309 R Street NW, Washington DC, DC (Logan Circle/ Shaw)   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #16 of 33 Washington DC B&B and Inns
Pennsylvania
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Comfy and Interesting”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2012

My partner and I had our first stay at the William Lewis House (which is basically a set of two restored rowhouses from the 1800s) for 3 nights over New Year’s 2012. This also happens to be the time of year of my partner’s birthday. To celebrate, I contacted Patrick, the general manager and all-around go-to-guy, via email to see if he might make a little cake for my partner as part of the regular weekend breakfast-making.

To my delight, Patrick emailed me back right away and said for a few extra bucks, he would make a homemade cake, buy a bottle of champagne for our room, and also book dinner for us wherever I wanted. I took him up on the offer, and on my partner’s birthday when we came back from dinner, a chocolate cake with raspberry frosting sat on a little table in our room next to a chilling bottle of bubbly. Really sweet.

I only tell this story because it is indicative of the personal touch you generally come to expect from a B&B experience. However, even if this personal touch weren’t present, The William Lewis is still really comfortable. Within the first day, my partner and I felt at home and were comfy hanging around the interestingly decorated common rooms (sort of from the period), lounging on the overstuffed sofa and chairs, and talking with other guests and the owner, Dave, and manager Patrick. This is not a snooty crowd, nor is this a snooty environment. On the weekend, there is a homemade breakfast (eggs, muffins, fruit, potatoes, sausage) served at 8:30 sharp; on weekdays the breakfast is continental and runs later, but good. There is a great cappuccino/coffee machine (a Jura!) in the dining room accessible to guests all day, with fruit on the table and granola on the bar. They also have a very informal happy hour with guests on the weekends with some wine and snacks.

Our room, on the third floor, with a queen bed, was nicely sized and comfy too. Generally, it was quiet; the stairs leading to all the rooms from the first floor are original, and hence they are extremely creaky—there is no way to walk on them quietly, even when being careful. So, some of this noise will enter the rooms. Also, on New Year’s eve, the streets surrounding the house were louder than usual. We actually also heard rapid gunshots during the night in the distance, which the owner said was very out of the ordinary.

The owner (who lives on the premises) and the manager both have dogs that roam the house freely, so if you are allergic, you should be aware. If you invite them to play, they will! But I found that they are extremely well-behaved and will generally leave you alone if you choose. They prefer to be outside most of the time. I’m not really a dog person, but my partner is, and he rolled around on the floor with them. I was content to sit and watch. Though they want to eat from the table (they are dogs after all), you can tell they are very carefully trained to not do so. Usually, the owner would remove the dogs when we were eating. They do give the place character, and I did not really detect any dog stink.

The greatest asset of this place is its location. If the weather is right and your legs are good for walking, you can get anywhere. My partner and I walked to a variety of good, mid-priced eateries within 15 minutes (Mexican, Thai, American, Latin-Asian fusion), a grocery store within that same distance, a movie theater, three or four gay bars, and we even walked all the way down to the national mall (about a brisk 35-minute walk one way) and did the Smithsonian circuit. It was a breeze. The metro station is about a 10-minute walk away, which will take you just about anywhere. Hailing a cab or a bus from the street corner is simple.

There were some issues: When we arrived, there was a film crew filming a TV show (a historical crime/drama) in some of the period rooms, and this delayed us getting into our room for about an hour. It was a temporary upset, and this sort of thing does not happen regularly. I could tell even Patrick, the manager, was not happy about it. This was their first outing allowing a film crew onto the premises, and the owner was second guessing his decision. Nevertheless, it was not a nice way to start our stay.

More importantly, there were some issues with the bathroom, which is shared. The fact that up to 3 rooms share a bathroom (one bathroom per floor) actually was not a problem at all. The bathroom was never occupied when I wanted to use it. However, the shower accommodations are a bit lacking, at least on the third floor of the one house. In a situation where you must haul your toiletries in and out of the bathroom, you’d think there would be a place to properly set them while showering. But in our bathroom, it was a clawfoot bathtub with a rigged shower curtain around it and no shelves anywhere to place your imported toiletries. I ended up having to place them on the floor, and then open the curtain with water blowing out, and bend over to get my shampoos or whatever. A real hassle. The second floor has a more updated bathroom, with a glassed-in, walk-in shower. When I discovered that, I used it. I only later found out that it is “forbidden” to use a shower on a floor where you are not staying. I did anyway, and no one said anything.

This brings me to the issue regarding the owner’s, Dave’s, “rulebook” which you will no doubt read about in other reviews. There is a book in each room detailing the “house rules,” basically. Before we booked our stay, even I read reviewers who were appalled at being told what they could and could not do in the house as guests; I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But as it turns out, it really is not that big of a deal. Really, more than anything, the rulebook is Dave’s way of trying to “idiot proof” the house (this is how my partner succinctly put it) so that as little as possible goes wrong. Most of the information in there is commonsense (don’t tromp up the stairs at 3 a.m., leave the bathroom clean for the next user, no non-guests allowed in the house for security reasons, etc.).

One last issue that you’ll also read about here: The rooms do not have individual locks on them, though there is a small safe in each room for valuables. I did not see this as a problem. However, we did find that the front door to the house was accidentally left unlocked at one point for who-knows-how-long, and it should have been locked the entire time (this is the key you get when you check in, to the front door of the house). So, for a short while, our things in the house were not safe, but we did not run into any trouble regarding this, so it was a non-issue. Chalk it up to luck, I guess. But if this sort of thing makes you nervous, be aware.

Overall, my partner and I had a good time in DC and a good time getting to know others at William Lewis. It was a relaxed, low-key, interesting, non-prefabricated, non-commercialized casual environment in which to spend some quality time. And Patrick is indeed the man. Delicious cake! Treadmill time...

Room Tip: If visiting on the weekend, snag parking on the street when it becomes available, and keep your car...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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93 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
Date | Rating
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  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Germany
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2011

I stayed there for a couple of days. Lots of rules, lots of regulations, you did not feel welcome nor at home, money was a key issue but not the atmosphere. Breakfast was very poor, one morning the bread was even mouldy, no alternative was on the table. The cake was nice but having the same cake for three days on the table does not leave a good ipmression. Instead of calling me a cab I had to get one myself on the street. The room was clean though, although you could not lock it and the neighbourhood was fine, centrally located. But still absolutely no place I wanna go to again!

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
birmingham
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2011

This is the best B&B I have stayed in. After long days and meetings, I was able to totally relax and rest when my head hit the pillow.

Each morning, the coffee was perfect and the breakfast delightful. Even though the place seemed to be buzzing with activity, it had a sense of calm.

The entire property was spotless and it felt like I was visiting family. The friendliness of the hosts was sincere and professional. I have to admit that I was concerned about the bathrooms being shared, but that was never a problem.

Thanks to friends for recommending this wonderful charmer!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2011

We had a great time and loved this house and delicious breakfasts. Thank you very much, Dave, for helping make our stay in Washington DC one to remember!
Your house is all a great Bed & Breakfast is supposed to be (without the high prices). We specially loved the way it transport you back in time to the "Belle Epoque" years, with all details taken care of and in a beautiful and peaceful neighborhood.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 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.
Angelholm, Sweden
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
49 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2011

We visited and stayed for three nights. When we arrived we realized it was a B&B, which was not iformed via expedia. Anyhow very clean and welcoming environment. Room was nice, felt like home and the persons managing the B&B was very nice and helpful. They helped us with finding buses to NYC and to recommend great restaurants. Very appreciated. The breakfast was great, many different things to chose of, and bars to bring as snack. Perfect.
Would definetely recommend and come back again next time in DC.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2011

I arrived at this Bed and Breakfast amidst the Hurricane Irene havoc and certainly found the calm in the middle of the storm. Although my weekend settling my son in Georgetown was crazy, it was wonderful having a friendly and homey place to return to. Amidst the storm, the owner of this residence had homemade soup and bread available to all and organized another group dinner for another night. I was uncertain about my travel plans due to the storm and the owner, David, was most generous offering me a place but willing to not charge me if I was able to fly out which I was able to do. It was great being in a flexible and caring envorment during this chaotic trip. Plus the place itself was most charming and a comfortable place that I would highly recommend.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Kansas City, Missouri
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2011

A friend told me about this property. I can't say enough good things. I will try to stay here every time I go to DC. The property and location are excellent. When I forgot my camera battery charger in the room, the proprietor called me and then mailed it to me.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 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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Additional Information about William Lewis House

Address: 1309 R Street NW, Washington DC, DC
Phone Number:
Location: United States > District of Columbia > Washington DC > Logan Circle/ Shaw
Amenities:
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 33 B&Bs / Inns in Washington DC
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — William Lewis House 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
describes itself as "Gay Bed & Breakfast" ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
William Lewis House Hotel Washington Dc

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