We enjoyed our 4-night stay at the new Conrad DC. However it is neither the best business hotel for Hilton elites nor finest luxury urban oasis for brand-agnostic tourists.
The hotel’s location adjacent to the ritzy CityCenter development is within 2 blocks of both the Metro Center and Gallery Place subway stations, which collectively grant access to all of DC’s subway lines including DCA National airport and the suburbs. It’s one block from Mt. Vernon Square, two blocks from the convention center and Chinatown, and about a 10-minute walk to the Mall.
Check-in required a trip up the elevator to the third floor lobby and felt chaotic similar to a large Hilton. While there were only four people in line ahead of me, there was also only one person at the small desk, and lots of noise coming from the atrium-style lobby/bar full of people enjoying happy hour.
Beautiful, Contemporary Rooms with Modern Technology
Our 8th floor corner room had amazing floor to ceiling windows covering the entire exterior wall and enjoyed a view over Carnegie Library/ Apple Store (and a parking lot). The windows were easily blacked out by the slick, electric shades–which is a good thing, because they’re only single pane and let in lots of heat in from the sun.
At 459-square feet, the room wasn’t exactly small but it didn’t feel luxuriously big either. I liked the modern, chic decor with quality furniture and was generally impressed by the quietness between the rooms; however, loud street noise like honking and yelling pedestrians did penetrate the single-pane windows.
The bedside clock radio is not fancy but does pair via Bluetooth, and there was an abundance (8+) of built-in USB ports for easy charging of all things electric.
Housekeeping was generally good but failed to ever replace our complimentary water bottles and had trouble replacing the correct Nespresso pods; fortunately the front desk provided a handful of complimentary pods on request. (Like most Conrad hotels, they also provided an adorable Conrad plush bear in “colonial” dress, which my little niece absolutely adored).
The glass-wall (lots of natural light), marble bathroom featured a dual vanity, a sizable walk-in shower, and a separate, glassed water closet with standard (ie not Toto automatic) toilet. I was very disappointed by the lack of any tub, which I consider a basic requirement for a true luxury hotel (a good soak is the best way to prevent soreness after walking 10+ miles along DC’s tourist attractions).
Tasty but Expensive Food
The Conrad lacks a fast dining option, which as a business traveler I find important. Their only breakfast options are room service or the fine dining restaurant Estuary. Estuary is a very attractive venue with excellent food and service, but its pricey, relatively slow a-la-carte menu makes it completely impractical for a quick morning start.
As a Hilton Honors Diamond Elite, I received a $25 per day food and beverage credit per night per guest. This credit carried over from day to day, and I liked being able to use it how I pleased including at the Estuary bar for drinks and a light meal.
However the credit would not at all cover the full cost of breakfast at the restaurant. My partner and I spent $80 with tax and tip for two entrees and two coffees. For example, a dish of just two eggs cooked any way are $9.
It would be advantageous if the hotel offered an “express breakfast” (aka buffet) that would be included for Hilton elites and useful for on the go professionals.
In the future, I’d probably get a quick breakfast at Maison Kayser across the street (superb French bakery), and save my credit exclusively for drinks and snacks at the bar.
Good but Not Great
As a tourist seeking an urban oasis, I was disappointed that the hotel room did not have a tub to soak in after walking 10+ miles around the mall. Also there is neither a pool nor hot tub or sauna. If I had traveled on business, I would’ve been disappointed by the lack of a quick breakfast option.
The rooftop bar was open on at least one of the nights we were there, but not the Sunday night we tried to go. Its availability seems to require perfect weather conditions. There are two patios on the lobby floor, but they have very limited service.
The Conrad DC is a major step up from the previous options in the metro area that is Hilton’s hometown, and I would stay here again. However, the new Hilton Mall offers an executive lounge and buffet breakfast, and numerous non-Hilton properties offer deep soaking tubs, pools, and spas like the Park Hyatt and Mandarin.
I give the DC Conrad an 8 out of 10; it is a significant addition and boon to Hilton’s previously old and tired collection of hotels in the District–which is somewhat surprising given that this is Hilton’s hometown.
Compared to other Hilton Hotels I’ve stayed at recently:
- Conrad Osaka – 11/10
- Waldorf Berlin – 10/10
- Madison DC – 6/10