The Madera likes to bill itself as a luxury hotel. It's not, nor does it matter. I've been a regular guest at the Madera for four years and it is consistently a supremely comfortable hotel, and that trumps luxury.
The Madera is located on tree-lined New Hampshire Avenue, smack in the midst of one of DC's most stately, residential neighborhoods. I always enjoy my evening walks around the hotel; the sidestreets are lined with beautiful brownstones and gardens. Convienently, the DuPont Circle Metro station is only a five minute walk away. Avoid DC's horrific traffic and take the metro to the hotel from DCA.
I have to admit that I like grand public spaces in hotels; the Madera has zip. No lobby to speak of, no fancy cocktail bar. There is a complimentary evening wine reception but that's rather comical as there's often nowhere to stand, much less sit, to enjoy that glass of wine. And the hallways looked washed out and dated even when the hotel was new.
But who lingers in hallways? The Madera's joy lies in its staff and the rooms. The staff are fun and delightfully quirky to say the least. And if you're a regular they will welcome you back as an old friend; that is a luxury to those who travel extensively. The rooms are a true haven. The ones facing the front of the hotel overlook New Hampshire Avenue and are generally larger than those facing the back. However, I prefer the back facing rooms for that breathtaking view of Georgetown and the National Cathedral, which is beautifully illuminated at night. The back facing rooms are also mercifully quiet. Avoid those ending in 08 as they are tiny; the best rooms end with 05, even though they are still smaller than many of the front-facing rooms. The decor is very soothing and contemporary; the beds are wonderfully comfortable; the desk space is truly ample. Yes, the bathrooms are jokingly tiny, as in just-try-to-close-that-door-once-you're-inside small. I really wished the Madera had dumped the bathtubs in favor of a nice, roomy shower stall. Overall, these rooms are true havens and I look forward to retreating to my beloved room after a frustrating day of dealing with the mess that is Washington. Please--avoid taking a car to the hotel. Traffic is hellish on the best of days and it is very expensive to park the thing.
As I said earlier, the Madera is not a luxury hotel. Maid service (Maria is such a delight!) is limited to once a day. Room service is also very limited. There is no concierge, though the front desk people will do what they can for you. There is no onsite fitness center but this does not matter. Guests at the Madera are welcome at the nearby Sports Club, DC's finest fitness club, for a fee. Firefly, the Madera's restaurant, is only mediocre, though it's a bit of a hotspot and the decor is fun. Try Asia Nora for a beautiful dinner near the hotel. Or walk up to the Adams-Morgan neighborhood and its eclectic collection of restaurants. I highly recommend the Regent, a Thai restaurant on 18th street.
The Madera has a glamorous sister nearby called the Palomar. I've also stayed at the Palomar and comparing the two hotels is like comparing Ginger and Mary Ann. The Palomar is seductively beautiful, very stylish and edgy. The Madera is all about the comfort; in many ways it is like staying at the home of a really good friend. Though none of my friends can clean a room as well as Maria.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.