[Disclaimer: I’m not sure why all my photos of this place came out so terribly, but you can definitely blame the photographer and not the subject. You’ll have to use your imagination to picture how great it looks in person.]
Hotel Rouge had me at “Hello.” Literally.
I arrived late on a Saturday night, after a flight from Vermont and a ride into DC on SuperShuttle. As I approached the front desk, the young woman at check-in, Laura, greeted me with such enthusiasm and friendliness, I was taken aback for a moment. It wasn’t your typical “Hi, how can I help you?” service-with-a-smile greeting that you expect in the service industry. It was as if I were a famous rock star she had been expecting all day.
As Laura was telling me about the hotel’s bar and restaurant, Bar Rouge, and its hours, I asked her how much later they’d be serving food. (I was starving.) She said “Only another 15 minutes.” I was disappointed by this, because I didn’t think I’d have time to drop my stuff in my room and come back down in time to order. She saw that in my face and immediately said, “Would you like me to place an order for you now so we can make sure you get some food before the kitchen closes?”
To say I was stunned by the offer would be an understatement. Naturally, I took her up on it. She pulled out a menu, I quickly scanned it, ordered a couple of things, she placed the order on her computer, and I asked to have it delivered to my room. It could not have been easier. She also gave me a great map of DC.
I loved my room as soon as I saw it. It was huge. I was there solo, of course, but man, could you have fun if you were there with your significant other. The decor is hip and stylish and fun–with red being the dominant color (hence the name of the hotel).
There were hip prints hanging on the wall. A full-length mirror leaned up against one wall. Two robes hung in an open closet hidden behind large red drapes on one wall: one robe was leopard print, and the other zebra print. There was also a yoga mat in the closet. It reminded me of Planet Hollywood in Vegas, but without the celebrity memorabilia.
This was my first experience staying at a Kimpton Hotel, and I have to say this is one hotel chain that gets it right. If you join the Kimpton Rewards club before your stay, you’ll get a coupon for $10 to “raid the fridge” (a minibar stocked with junk food and beverages of all kinds). You can apply the $10 toward the mini-bar or Bar Rouge purchases. They also have free wifi, which is a godsend. Then there’s this:
I could have lived in the shower here: The water pressure was great and the towels thick and soft. The bathroom was cute, but small (about the size of mine at home). In fact, it reminded me so much of my own bathroom, that I kept reaching for things in the wrong places–the toilet paper, the light switch, the wastebasket. Every time it happened, I had to laugh at myself.
The hotel tries to be eco-friendly in small ways, like asking guests to hang up their towels if they don’t need to be washed every day (a nice gesture, though usually ineffective), and using pump dispensers in the shower instead of the tiny toiletries most hotels hand out. They also have a wastebasket in each room dedicated for paper and bottle/can recycling in addition to a regular trash wastebasket. I always appreciate gestures like this in hotels; it makes me feel good about staying there.
For social solos and wine lovers, there is a manager’s wine reception every day from 5-6. I don’t really care for wine, so I didn’t go, but I thought it was a great way to meet other travelers if you’re into that kind of thing. There was always water in the lobby for guests (with fresh fruit in it), and free coffee in the mornings.
I have mixed feelings about the location of this hotel. On the plus side, there were some good restaurants, a Starbucks, a Whole Foods, a pharmacy, and two metro stations within walking distance. But after a long day of walking until my leg muscles screamed in protest, all of those things seemed a bit too far away. On my third day, I learned that taxis aren’t that expensive in DC, so that helped a lot.
Having Bar Rouge on site was very convenient, and the food was good. On my first night, I ordered a couple of their cheeses (from the excellent Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont!) and the “trio of cupcake bites” (one chocolate, one red velvet, and one citrus). The cheese came with toast rounds, marmalade and candied pecans and was divine. I assumed by “trio of bites” what would arrive would be mini-cupcakes. But no, they were full-size cupcakes, all topped with a cream cheese frosting. I love cupcakes, but three seemed like overkill. Then again, I didn’t get hungry again that night. I sleep so much better when I don’t wake up hungry.
If you have time to be patient and wait for a menu in the breakfast room, I recommend it. The continental breakfast was okay, but it’s the same every day, and that gets old after awhile. It was essentially coffee, pastries, hard boiled eggs, cereal, and bananas. It was pretty limited for the price you pay. The hot breakfast really doesn’t cost any more than the continental breakfast, and it’s so much better.
Lest you think Hotel Rouge is perfect, there were a few glitches during my stay:
- I didn’t realize until after I’d added a 20% tip to my room service bill that In Room Dining automatically adds an 18% gratuity to food delivery. My delivery guy must have loved me, since he got a 38% tip. Ouch.
- There are 2 small elevators here. One was broken for about 24 hours. It made getting up and down a bit slow. People on the lower floors started using the stairs, but I was on the 9th floor.
- Neither the TV on Demand nor the in-room safe were working during my stay, which was mildly annoying. There was nothing I could do about the TV, but I take responsibility for not reporting that the safe wasn’t working. I just didn’t have time to wait around for someone to come fix it.
- While there were plenty of electrical outlets scattered around the room, there were none on the nightstand. I would have liked to plug my cell phone in there overnight, since I use it as an alarm clock when I travel.
But overall, I adored this hotel and would absolutely stay there again if the price were right. The staff was so friendly and welcoming, from the front desk staff to room delivery to valet. The colors were cheerful. I had everything I needed and it was conveniently located. I almost didn’t go out one day, because I liked hanging out in the hotel so much. It felt like coming home at the end of every day–and isn’t that what we hope for in a hotel when we travel?