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Reviewed February 25, 2012

It isn’t often that I stay in local hotels, but after a very busy month at work and school, and lacking time to get away, we decided a “stay-cation” would do the trick. We chose the Palomar Arlington because I toured it when it was originally opened back in 2008 at the product and delivery was superb. I wondered if it declined in quality and for what reasons they were switching ownership to Le Meridien and HEI Management.

I am vastly familiar with discount booking sites including Hotwire and LastMinuteTravel and found the Palomar Arlington listed as a 4-star boutique hotel in Arlington on Hotwire.com. The rate was superb - $76 per night - a nice discount from the $240+ on Kimpton’s website.

Upon reserving our room, I called Kimpton and linked my In-Touch rewards membership to the reservation. In-Touch is great; its free to sign up for, and you get tons of great perks when you stay at Kimpton hotels, including free wifi, preferred amenities and a $10 minibar credit for your stay.

I use Room77, a great website that lets you see the view from each room, to request a particular room. Hotwire booked us in a basic 250 square feet deluxe room with no view (well, views of downtown Rosslyn office buildings...so not much of a view). I determined that room 1210 was the best room in the hotel for a room with 2 queen beds in terms of view (overlooking Georgetown and the Potomac River) and size (300 square feet). I called Kimpton and they made the clique “we’re at extremely high occupany on those dates and you are in a standard room, so we’ll see what we can do but it is unlikely.” Considering that that room class was going for $310 per night, I thought it unlikely.

I did everything I could prior to the stay to ensure the best experience and we were set to go.

Upon arriving, the hotel entrance was...dead. Other than 4 black Lincoln Town Cars waiting to take guests to various places (for a fee, of course), there were no valets, no bellhops, absolutely no one in sight. We didn’t have much luggage staying for one night, so that wasn’t a problem, but if you were coming for a week and needed a bellhop or luggage cart, you would be out of luck.

After we unloaded and went in search of a valet, a gentleman came out of the Waterfront Tower (the adjacent office building, they share the entrance) and took our car for us. This is a minor flaw in the hotel design; the semi-circular entrance is far too small for the hotel alone, not to mention a HUGE office building next to it! And with the Lincoln Town Cars parked around the circle, there’s very little room to get your vehicle through (thank goodness I have a car; I can’t imagine getting an SUV through there!)

We proceeded to the 4th floor to check-in. I agree with the others; the 4th floor check-in seems like a bit of an afterthought....almost like they designed the property and thought “oh crap...we need a front desk.” I also don’t like how you have to take 2 elevators to get to the ground floor, stopping over at the 4th floor, but understand that design was pertained to guest safety even though Rosslyn is not exactly “the hood.” With this design, you have to stop at the 4th floor and switch elevators to get to the ground floor to exit onto the street. That said, the lobby (or as they call it, Living Room) on the 4th Floor was very nice; modern, but tasteful. They served wine in the evenings, as well as apple cider and water for the younger guests. In the morning, hot tea and coffee was set up for self-service. It was a nice touch.

The check-in desk was extremely small and there was only one person working it. However, I shortly discovered that it wasn’t much of a problem. Being at “extremely high occupancy,” I expected a line, or at least to bump into another guest during my stay, but I saw no one. Actually, I saw 4 people in the lobby during the wine reception, but we never shared an elevator with anyone, never waited in line at check-in or check-out, anything. I suspect they were at very low occupancy and just fed me that line earlier. But I can’t complain; it was nice, quiet, and relaxing.

Our room on the 12th floor was right across from the elevator bank and there was no noise whatsoever. The elevators in this hotel are superbly quiet, which is very nice. Upon entering our room, I was pleasantly surprised. It, like the 4th floor living room, was modern, but tasteful as well. The beds were large, the windows framed the tremendous view I was expecting, and the furnishings were top-notch. There were some flaws; the TV did not work and it took two calls and over an hour and a half for a technician to come fix it.

In a travel industry where hotels are competing for the best beds, Kimpton falls short. Each of the two queen beds had only two “real” pillows on them, and I crave tons of pillows (4, at least!). I’d rather have to take pillows off the bed than have to call down to housekeeping and request additional pillows...and I think most people would agree. Additionally, Kimpton In-Touch notes you’re preferred pillow preference (mine being down/feather) and the pillows were hypo-allergenic. The mattress was firm, which is my pet peeve with all Kimpton Hotels, they have the same firm mattress. A featherbed sure would help. And for being dressed in Frette sheets, they were a bit scratchy (though I’m not THAT picky). However, the sheets in my bed were dirty (see photo) and I don’t find that acceptable at a higher-end hotel.

I was sad that they forgot to give me my $10 mini-bar credit at check-in, but there wasn’t much appealing food in the MiniBar. A bottle of Fred water was $7, and candy bars were $4, if I recall correctly. Something a bit unappealing: an “Intimacy” Kit - I’ll let you guess what it contained. I’m sorry-when I’m staying in a hotel, I don’t want to think of people....in the bed I’m sleeping in.

As for the bathroom, it was very nice overall. Despite being small, it was well-designed. The pocket door was tremendous space planning, and the vanity was very nice. It was well lit, I’ve never seen pendant lights in a bathroom, but it’s a great idea I might steal when I decide to upgrade my own! A complaint others mentioned; the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are wall-mounted in the tub/shower unit. I think it feels like a cheap gym rather than a high-end hotel, and urge the new owners to get rid of them ASAP! The shower also had no water pressure, which was a disappointment.

I did not dine at the in-house restaurant, but glanced at the menu. It sounded good, and I’ve heard great things about Domaso, but there’s much better food around then hotel food-especially Ray’s Hell Burgers, which is within walking distance.

Overall, the experience was so-so. It is not on the AAA 4-Diamond List this year, and I think it has fallen to about a 3.5* level. I would give it 3.5* if I could, but chose to give it 3* because it certainly is not a 4* hotel. Still, it is a solid hotel and a great choice. The location is amazing for tourists, as you’re just a short metro ride to all the areas of downtown, and can walk to Georgetown. Most DC locations can’t beat the convenience of Rosslyn.

It will be interesting to see what Le Méridien does with this property. I certainly hope they don’t refurnish the hotel; it is very nice as-is. They have been given a great foundation; an absolutely beautiful hotel that is pretty well designed, except for the 4th floor lobby arrangement. If they can improve the service and fix the small touches in the rooms, they will be well on the way to becoming a 4-diamond hotel again.

Safe travels, and anyone visiting the DC area is welcome to contact me via personal message or on the Travel Forum for hotel, restaurant and tourism information!

Arlingtonman13

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank arlingtonman13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2012

Thehotel is nice but we liked the Palomar location in Washington DC (Dupont Circle) much better. The rooms here are small but nice and had a nice view of Georgetown from our window. It is very convenient to walk across the bridge to the city and there are a couple good running trails right outside the door. It is dog friendly, but there is not much green space right near the hotel (you would have to venture a little further). Also, you have to take 2 elevators to get to your rooms, one to get to the main lobby and then another to the room floors. Sort of annoying.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the river have a nice view
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled on business
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Thank Jenn C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 16, 2018
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  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor China Member
Reviewed January 21, 2018
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  • Stayed: September 2017, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Reviewed May 3, 2016
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  • Stayed: June 2015, traveled on business
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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