The Watergate Hotel
What We Love
- The nostalgia that brings you back in the 70s, when the biggest political scandal in American history unfolded inside these walls
- Sipping an Old Fashioned at Top of the Gate, the hotel’s open-air rooftop bar with 360-degree river and skyline views
- The 15-meter saltwater lap pool next to the full-service spa
- Hobnobbing with the capital’s power players at Kingbird, the striking ground-floor restaurant
What To Know
- Most room categories have the option of city or river views
- Pets of up to 50 lbs. are allowed, but a $150 daily fee is charged
- Trendy neighborhoods like Georgetown or Dupont Circle are about 20 minutes away
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Its maxim may be “unapologetically luxurious,” but don’t expect traditional luxury at the Watergate Hotel, whose high-impact contemporary design is enhanced by a dose of irreverence. Working off the original 1967 structure designed by Luigi Moretti (a concrete-and-metal curvilinear building protected by The National Register of Historic Places), architect Ron Arad reinvented the interiors’ prominent sinuous shapes, covering them in sleek bent steel, polished timber, and glass vitrines. Playful touches alluding to the past are everywhere, including staff uniforms created by Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant and room key cards that read “no need to break in.” It’s an American icon reborn.
All 336 rooms have a seductive, rather masculine style conveyed by grey fabrics, dark wood accents, and eye-catching mid-century furnishings, plus all the amenities expected of a luxury hotel. Superior Rooms, the standard option, start at 260 square feet, while One Bedroom Suites start at 520 square feet. Marble-clad bathrooms are stocked with high-quality La Bottega products.
The Watergate is a significant addition to D.C.’s dining and nightlife scene, with alluring options like The Next Whisky Bar (named after lyrics by The Doors), where more than 2,000 bottles of whiskey, scotch, and bourbon are displayed in wall-to-wall curvaceous vitrines covering the entire space. Kingbird, the double-height restaurant on the ground floor, is a place to see and be seen while eating French and American classics like steak frites or lobster rolls. Unobstructed views of the Potomac River and the city skyline, plus Asian bites, are on offer at Top of the Gate, the rooftop lounge.
The Watergate Hotel, part of the 1960’s Watergate complex facing the Potomac River, is a lively addition to the centrally located but somewhat staid neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. The National Mall and its monuments are about a 20-minute walk away.
How to Get There
I took my wife with me for a weekend in DC and I took a chance on The Watergate and I'm so glad that I did. It was great service from the time we arrived with Juvenal, who helped us with our bags, recommended a better room due to my wife's walking difficulty. He went out of his way to substitute rooms and our experience was at the same level through the whole trip. Other particular highlights were the Next Whiskey bar with a top shelf selection of bourbon (I went with the rare Elmer T Lee), the room which had ample space with a wonderful bed, and the mod decorations which added a real cool vibe. I will definitely look to stay there again the next time I swing through DC.
I was excited about spending a couple of days at the Watergate Hotel. What's not to be excited about? History. Location. Renovation. My overall assessment, though, is that the Watergate is heavy on nostalgia and light on the service becoming of a five-star hotel.
Here’s what they do well:
—The hotel's been renovated in the past few years, giving it a fresh and nearly sumptuous feel. It feels young, vibrant, but historic. Indeed, the hotel wants you to know that it is young and vibrant and historic. There are reminders of how the Watergate is tied to history and also reminders of all the important people it continues to attract.
--The bed was lovely and the pillow selection was nice. I slept well, comfortably, and I appreciated the attention to detail when it came to the sheets, which were just lovely, memorable, and the linens overall were a pleasure because attention was made to quality. The shower had a nice array of toiletries and the bathrobe was also nice. Thanks for that.
--Room service food was also lovely. The food I ordered was delivered on time and it was fresh, flavorful and filling. I enjoyed it very much and smiled throughout because it made me want to believe that the Watergate was truly a five-star hotel and that my overall assessment of it was incorrect. Thanks for the lovely food.
Here’s what they could improve:
All of the issues I encountered had to do with the quality of the service overall. Service is everything at a five-star hotel. Without it, you can have all the stars in the world and poor service, which can discourage guests from returning. Here's why:
--Ahead of an important meeting I had one morning, I requested a wake-up call by calling guest services. The person I talked with confirmed the time of the wake-up call and assured me that I would get a call the next morning. No wake-up call was made. Fortunately for me, I had also set my phone to ring, just in case. When I called guest services to inquire about the wake-up call that wasn't made, they didn't know what had happened. I then set up a wake-up call for the next morning with them.
--That evening, I called guest services again to be sure that the wake-up call had been set for the next morning. No one picked up the phone at guest services, and the phone rang and rang and rang. It just rang. I assumed that they must be very busy so I called the concierge and no one picked up there either. I then went down to the reception to request a wake-up call in person but there was a long line of people checking in and only one person at the front desk serving everyone checking in with their luggage. I waited for a while and then went back to my room from where I called room service and asked them to contact guest services and place a wake-up call on my behalf, which they did.
-- When I got to my room, I also noticed that there were no complimentary water bottles available. I assumed that this meant that the hotel didn't provide any and wanted me to buy some or drink from the tap. Fair enough. But then I walked out of the room one morning and saw housekeeping providing complimentary water bottles for other rooms, and so I asked if I could get some. They gave the complimentary water bottles to me but I had to ask again later for more.
--I also had problems operating the air conditioning system in the room, which is far from intuitive. It is a combination of a light and air conditioning control, and once you know how to operate it, it works fairly well, but it takes time to learn. It probably came with a manual that wasn't provided or the one in my room was having a bad day.
I really wanted to like the Watergate and was so excited about visiting. Overall, the Watergate reminded me of a hotel that was selling a memory on which it really wanted you to focus so that it could divert your attention away from the deficits in customer service. With so many other choices around, including five-star hotels, I'd more readily explore the competition next time than go back to the Watergate.
This was a last minute reservation in a full town, so I wasn't expecting a great room and I didn't get one. Third floor, basic, but I did have a nice view of the river. The staff here is very nice. The rooftop is fun, with great views and an ice rink. The bar is great. The gym is well equipped, but the smell of chlorine from the pool is overwhelming, had to cut my workout short. My only real complaint is that the housekeeping is odd. I only drank the caffeinated coffee, they replaced it with all decaf capsules. I used my washcloths, they didn't leave any clean ones. I left early on Saturday night and didn't get a turndown service. Plus, honestly the room could use a good cleaning, including dusty baseboards, etc. I do love the sense of humor of the place. The key says "No need to break in".
The whole experience was just great. Friendly staff, great clean facilities, comfortable room. Would stay again. Location and area really good. Close to metro station. Spa and pool area very well maintained.
Located walking distance from several attractions. Riverfront is close by and can be walked at night. Do not miss the famous scandal room ( Nixon’s watergate was this very hotel). They have still kept the room intact