As I often travel to Washington, D.C. for business, I seek a place to stay where I find both convenience (including very close to work), comfort, and an overall great experience. The Mayflower Hotel, a Renaissance hotel, is one of my favorites as it combines all these key aspects.
I normally do not write a post focused only in a hotel but since I have stayed here so many times, and since I enjoy my stays there, I decided it merited a post. (This is an unsolicited and non-compensated post in any way, shape, or form!) There are many good reviews of hotels in D.C. out there so if you are looking for more info (the real scoop) on a hotel, all you need to do is a search!
This hotel, the longest running hotel in the capital, has quite a story. Located about four blocks away north of the White House, it was built in the 1920s and opened in 1925. It is supposed to be the largest luxury hotel in D.C. and that is quite impressive given some other strong challengers in the category that I have not explored.
Many famous events have taken place here or many famous guests/residents have stayed here. The hotel has signs in many places outlining some of its history – it is pretty neat to read them. The hotel used to have a part that was dedicated to apartments where, for example, Sen. John F. Kennedy stayed. Calvin Coolidge’s Inaugural Ball was held here and, since FDR days, the hotel has hosted inauguration day parties. Truman stayed here as President during some of the repairs of the White House that took place during his time. J. Edgar Hoover had lunch here regularly during his prime. Lots of history make this hotel quite unique.
Of course, some of the history is notorious… including that it allegedly hosted JFK’s mistress, where Monica Lewinsky stayed at some point when the scandal with Clinton was unfolding, and where then Governor of NY, Eliot Spitzer paid for a high-end prostitute’s services… These don’t have signs around the hotel – that I have found anyway!
Around the ground floor of the hotel
The hotel, currently in the midst of major renovations in the front of the house (the new check-in counters are finished, now they are working on the ground level bar/café), has a style that does take one back to the glamor and style of the era in which it was born (or thereabouts). Nothing like the ground level of the hotel or the elevator area to the former apartment section of the building to appreciate the elegance characteristic of this hotel. A lot of these details were hidden in renovations done a long time ago as an effort to modernize the hotel but, fortunately, the beautiful original details have been uncovered and restored.
The rooms, though renovated, are detailed to connect well with the rest of the building. A great example are the cabinets around the bathroom sinks.
The Executive Lounge
One of my most prized features as a frequent business traveler is access to a nice lounge where I can get water, perhaps a simple breakfast, and if I am lucky free drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The Mayflower’s has most of these but, like other Marriott chain hotels in the U.S., wine and beer are not free (this is different than international properties and, for that, I am thankful!). But then the hors d’oeuvres sometimes are like a real meal. So, on a busy day, I don’t have to bother going on or ordering from the room service menu (which gets rather repetitive).
But my favorite part about this lounge versus others is how large it is! As large as it is, some mornings it can be hard to find a table to sit at but more often than not, that is not a problem. The spaciousness of the lounge makes it a great place to hang out as it also has a couch and couple of related chairs.
I will never forget that after the quake of 2011, when the office building I worked at closed, it was the lounge I came to to avoid sitting around in my room for more hours than were necessary!
One of the features that most hotels get so wrong is their gym. I can count with half the fingers in one hand hotels whose gyms are better than the average hotel. Granted, this does not mean they are gyms I would choose to normally go but it is certainly nice to see hotels that beat that nasty stereotype of a gym hotel (usually a former room converted by placing mirrors on all the walls and then having exercise equipment from the times before exercising was important!).
The Mayflower’s gym is certainly spacious. While the aerobic equipment (treadmill, bikes, etc.) could be better, it is adequate and there are plenty – all with TVs. There are also a number of weight training machines and equipment. Finally, there is space to place mats and stretch, do abs, etc. Apples, water, towels, and -for the really daring- a scale!
I have not actually tried the main restaurant itself but have sampled the room service menu which is consistent with the menus in other Renaissance properties in the U.S. (I do wish for a little more variety or at least a re-do of the menu every few months… However, the hotel’s chef is more than ready to take special requests and I am forever thankful!)
The Mayflower is most definitely a landmark in this city of landmarks. If you have a chance, stay. But, if not, walk in, check it out and imagine all the history this magnificent grand dame has seen!!
Note: I paid a public rate for my stay. I received no special services or attention in return for this post. I wrote it because I like this hotel.