Remember before you had kids when you would stay at those nice hotels downtown, with fine dining and great attention to detail. Then the kids come along and suddenly you find yourself spending all your holidays in character themed rooms. It is possible to find a hotel that appeals to both parents and kids and if you’re visiting Washington, D.C., the Mandarin Oriental is one such hotel.
A standard room with two double beds can accommodate most families of four or less, but if you have a larger family or would just like a little more space, they do offer adjoining rooms. With five in our family, we opted for adjoining rooms with one double room for the kids and a king for the parents. The adjoining rooms not only give you double the room space but also twice as many bathrooms and TVs, both of which are very handy with kids in-tow. After touring the city together, the ability to relax in our own space was nice for everyone: giddiness, cartoons and early bedtime for the kids; relaxed quiet and late night TV for us.
For a hotel located within Washington, D.C., the rooms at the Mandarin Oriental were actually quite spacious and the central air was greatly appreciated during a hot summer visit. We also had a lovely view of the water and the Jefferson Monument. Along with the beds, you’ll find a desk great for catching up on email and a chaise or chair (depending on your room) offers a nice seat beyond lounging on the bed. I loved that the rooms are equipped with wifi so both my husband and I could use our laptops at the same time, without taking turns using a cable (and I could work from the very comfortable bed). The bathrooms are also equipped with a deep tub and a separate shower stall, giving you the best of both worlds (quick shower in the morning and leisurely soak in the tub at the end of the day). There’s something freeing about a shower in a glass stall versus a confined tub shower, but that’s just me.
My kids loved that the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon were two of the channels available in the room; however, if you are traveling with the very young you can avoid inappropriate TV choices by bringing along some of your child’s favourite DVDs to play in your in-room DVD player. You can also borrow some popular moies on DVDs from the front desk at no cost but family-friendly selection might be limited.
Although we spent most of our time visiting the monuments and museums on the National Mall, which is roughly a 10-minute walk from the hotel, or in the Tai Pan Club Lounge, the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. does offer some distractions outside of their rooms. On the ground level you’ll find the fitness center, complimentary for hotel guests, offers an assortment of hi-tech cardio and resistance machines, ensuring you keep up your routine while you’re away. The 50-foot heated lap pool will wake you first thing in the morning or relax you after an afternoon visiting the city’s attractions. Although it is listed as a lap pool, families are more than welcome to use it (and not for doing laps). There are lane markers separating lanes for those wishing to do laps and those looking to just enjoy the water. Both the pool and fitness center offer floor to ceiling windows with views of the harbor and a lot of natural light during the day.
If mom is looking for an little escape for herself, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C., offering treatments from your tired feet to a whole body experience.
Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. Location
When you first approach the hotel, it does feel rather isolated from the rest of the city, falling on the opposite side of the National Mall compared to most of the city’s other hotel options, but you’ll be surprised how close it is to many things without having the city bustle right outside your window.
When planning a visit to Washington, D.C., I had expected we would be using the city’s Metro system but the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. is within walking distance to the National Mall, with its historic monuments and museums. We drove down to Washington, D.C. and didn’t need to pull our car out again until it was time to travel home. If you do plan to visit other areas beyond the National Mall, the Smithsonian stop for the city’s Metro line is just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Parking is valet at $42 US/day, which is inline with many downtown US cities, but there are no in/out privileges should you desire to visit areas outside the city boundaries, so plan your activities wisely.
Washington, D.C., like most big cities, can offer you dining options to suit whatever your interest and the hotel’s concierge staff is more than willing to help you locate and set-up a reservation for you. If you don’t feel like venturing out, Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. offers a few dining options:
The Sou’Wester boasts regional dishes served in an oriental themed dining room. We loved the long bench with bolster pillows. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner inside or on their small patio, with wonderful harbor views.
The CityZen is ideal if you are looking for a more elegant dining experience. Only open for dinner (excluding Sundays and Mondays), you are bound to delight your senses at what Food and Wine magazine refers to as one of ‘The Hottest Restaurants in the World’.
The Empress Lounge greets you as soon as you enter the hotel lobby with its large windows and inviting clusters of tables and chairs. It reminds me of a comfortable library in a romantic movie, where you could sit and enjoy a cocktail on your own or with your family.
The Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. also offers room service should you prefer a quiet night in, which is exactly what we did after our 9 hour drive into town. Sometimes room service in hotels, no matter how high end, seems haphazard and slapped together. We were pleasantly surprised when our order arrived. My club sandwich had the added flavour of fresh avocados and the grain bread was thick and crunchy. My husband’s Oriental Chicken Noodle Soup offered a sweet twist on traditional Chicken Noodle Soup. And the bowl it was served in came with a lovely lid, making it a personal soup tureen.
Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. Service
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. A hotel’s rooms and facilities can be outstanding but if it doesn’t come with the service to back it up, it’s not really worth staying there. The Mandarin Oriental treated us as special guests from the moment we pulled up to the front entrance. All the staff we encountered, from the doorman to the front desk, our restaurant servers at the Sou’Wester to the housekeepers in the hall, were all polite, friendly and genuinely seemed to enjoy their job.
Along with the staff’s friendliness, there were subtle touches that made our stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. that much more enjoyable. The phone in our room had our name on it and when I made an internal call, such as to make a hotel reservation or to order room service, I was greeted by my name. It’s nice being referred to as a person instead of a room number or by nothing at all.
And it wasn’t just us, the adults, who were treated well; our kids were looked after too. We quickly discovered the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. takes treating kids and families to heart, offering a number of special services just for them. So it is possible to stay at a sophisticated hotel for the parents without alienating the kids; Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. is proof of that.