I really wanted to like this hotel. After three days at another DC hotel, I thought I'd try this one to see if it might work later for a romantic trip to DC. Solved that question quickly: answer is definitely a no. There isn't one big thing wrong with this hotel. But a lot of small wrong things that added up to make it a disappointing visit. I came away with a view that the hotel is overpriced and an overall bad taste in my mouth.
The hotel is not in a terrible location - right on Thomas Circle - but it's also not terribly convenient. About a mile away from the nearest metro (Dupont Circle) and on a street that doesn't attract a lot of taxis. Not a big problem, but if you're planning a trip, good to know.
The real problem was the myriad of small things that made this a disappointing trip. It's promoted as kind of an icon of cool hipness but they've seemed to put form over function. The carpet in the room for example, was stained and frayed. Ugg. Not a good first impression. The carpet in the hallways was actually in better shape. The stains though make you wander what's down there and I'd prefer not to have to think about it. They promote their rooms as having a "cocoon shower." That's actually just a small shower with the shower head in the ceiling. Really? Turns out it had to be in the ceiling because the water pressure was so weak, it needed gravity's help just to make it to the drain. The location and lack of pressure then simply makes it hard to wash and rinse. By itself a big deal? Not really. I've had crappy showers all over the world but it was just one more thing. Then the bathroom sink was clogged, water building up as I'm trying to shave. No coffee pot in the room (man, even the Days Inns of the world get this right). They did have coffee in the lobby but it was out when I went to get some at 7:30. When it finally arrived I got a cup and a newspaper but then couldn't find a place to read it. The lights in the lobby were too dim. I literally couldn't read the words without finding on mediocre bulb and moving the paper around under it as I read. The coolness factor they were going for just got in the way of my having an enjoyable coffee and paper experience and you have to ask yourself if this is what they intended. My next-to-last frustration - tho certainly not my biggest - was the furniture. I'm 5-9 and felt like I was too tall for everything in the hotel. Did they buy furniture from a hobbit? Every seat in the lobby, the one chair in my room and even the bed were so low to the floor that it was uncomfortable. A problem for anyone under 30? Probably not. But over 50? It might be a problem. The bed I thought was especially low.
As I said, individually none of these things were a big deal. I've certainly had worse experiences. The real kicker though was when I went to check out. At the end of the day, whether you had a good experience or not, you'd like to think that the hard-earned money you chose to spend was appreciated. After all, I could have spent my cash anywhere in the city. Alas, the coolness factor of the hotel must restrain the staff from saying anything like "thanks for staying here" or "how was your stay?" or "did you have a great time?" or even a "have a great day." I got a glare and sigh when I asked for my bill to be printed; it was handed to me without comment. Ahh - just the right touch to push a three-star rating to a two-star. Keep in mind I hadn't given them any feedback yet - not even about the clogged sink - and wasn't given an opportunity to. So the next guest will have the same clogged sink I had. Nice. I'm fully aware that any of these - individually - seem nitpicky. But we don't experience hotels or restaurants in a microcosm of individual experiences. We experience them holistically and the overall impression I got was not positive. I call them as I see them. Have given $60 hotels five-star ratings because they try and they deliver value. And I've given mom-and-pop restaurants nice marks for showing some real customer service and creativity. This hotel needs to remember who pays the bills and ask themselves what that customer needs. Here's a hint: It's not an oversold "cocoon shower" w/no water pressure, stained and frayed carpet, uncomfortable furniture and an indifferent staff.