Hotels- DC and Philadelphia

Mar 7th, 2016, 03:23 PM
  #1  
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Hotels- DC and Philadelphia

So, I'm back to second guessing my itinerary. I've never been so indecisive before! Now I'm thinking I'll spend a night or two in Philadelphia, and then the Saturday night before Easter in DC or old town Alexandria.

For DC/Alexandria, I've narrowed it down to 3 hotels. Hotel Monaco in either place or the Donovan. Any thoughts? Donovan and Monaco Alexandria have pools. Donovan and Hotel Monaco-DC are more expensive than Monaco- Alexandria. But all are in my budget, which is around 150-250 before tax. Anyone stayed at all of these, by chance?

Pros for Alexandria: price, and I'm interested in visiting Old Town. After Easter, I'm moving to a hostel in DC, so proximity to DC is not all that important.

Con for Alexandria: I'm interested in possibly attending the sunrise service at Lincoln Memorial, and I think that may be tough if I stay in Alexandria. No car and metro doesn't start til 7am (service is at 630). Anyone been the service? Good or bad experience?

Con for DC hotels is pretty obvious: it's high season, there is a 70 dollar difference between Alexandria and DC. But if the DC hotels are better than the Monaco Alexandria, then I don't mind the 70 bucks.

Any hotel recommendations other than those three that are within my budget? This is my "splurge"- so I want to stay somewhere nice, but I realize 250 is low for Easter weekend in DC. I'm a rewards member, which is why all of my options are kimpton, but I'm open to non-kimpton hotels. I am a AAA member as well.

For Philadelphia: has anyone stayed at the best western plus independence? It seems to get really good views and I like historical hotels. Any hotels you'd recommend over that? Budget is same, location is slightly more important, because I'm thinking I'll only do one night in Philadelphia- I want to be able to walk to sites/restaurants.

And since I always get the best food recs here...any raves about Easter brunch spots in DC? I'm an omnivore- it just needs to be delicious!
marvelousmouse is offline  
Mar 7th, 2016, 03:29 PM
  #2  
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Just saw the pool for the Donovan is seasonal, so that aspect doesn't count. Still interested in what people think of the hotel, though
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Mar 7th, 2016, 05:14 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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Brunch in DC -- I've always been pleased with brunches at the Tabard Inn and Bistro Bis, but don't know if either does anything different for Easter
http://bistrobis.com/menus/brunch
http://www.tabardinn.com/#!brunch/zmy0c

I'm sure others will jump in with their ideas!
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Mar 7th, 2016, 06:47 PM
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Another Kimpton Karma member here.

I'd give the edge to the DC Monaco if you like historic buildings -- the building is a National Historic Landmark.

I like the Donovan House too but the Penn Quarter neighborhood of the Monaco is more interesting. They are doing some reno there so ask to be away from it.

Have you checked the rates of some of the other DC Kimptons in the Dupont Circle area -- Palomar, Madera, Topaz or the Carlyle? They generally price slightly under the Monaco. And depending on your stamina they're all a pretty easy 30 walk (downhill) to the Lincoln Memorial. Cab or Uber would be another easy option from any of the hotels mentioned.

In any case, I vote for staying in the city if you plan to go to the sunrise service. I haven't attended but I run on the mall and recall them setting up the stage last year. It was huge. Here's a video of the service:

http://www.capitalchurch.org/events/easter-service/

For brunch, I'll toss Le Diplomate and Founding Farmers into the mix. What ever you end of picking, get a booking.
obxgirl is offline  
Mar 7th, 2016, 07:05 PM
  #5  
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I've looked at the other Kimptons. I keep coming back to the DC Monaco because of the historic building and because I generally enjoy Monacos. It really is Alexandria vs. DC, I think. So it's the pool and saving money vs. the location of DC Monaco and the neat building. I really, really like historic hotels, but usually they're a bit more than I want to pay. And also, I definitely have enough stuff I could entertain myself with for a day in Alexandria- so I don't really know if the DC location is really a benefit. Hmm...decisions, decisions...

Thanks for the food recs- yep, I know I've got to book, I'm rather hoping it's not too late!
marvelousmouse is offline  
Mar 7th, 2016, 07:17 PM
  #6  
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Any thoughts on the Willard, folks? It's showing up at 238 before tax which is about 100 cheaper than last I checked.
marvelousmouse is offline  
Mar 8th, 2016, 10:52 AM
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The Willard is another iconic DC historic property. Close to the Washington Monument and White House portion of the National Mall. Another good choice.

I'm guessing you do know the Monaco in Alexandria isn't a vintage property? No matter, it's a lovely spot in Old Town and there is, as you say, plenty to entertain you there.

It shouldn't be too late reserve Easter brunch, but if you end up finding a special spot, don't delay in booking.
obxgirl is offline  
Mar 8th, 2016, 11:16 AM
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I like cities and prefer to stay in a more central location when visiting one, Alexandria just doesn't appeal to me any more than any other suburb would. I guess it is supposed to be "quaint." I've lived here over 20 years, though, so maybe its charm isn't so special to me. There are older parts of DC, also, after all, for quaint buildings.

But you should be aware that Kimpton in Alexandria is about a mile from a metro stop, which I don't consider super convenient myself.

Hard to say if that's worth $70 to you, though. If that's per night, that does add up, but that's due to its location, of course. I'd certainly stay at the Willard if it were the same price. You could probably stay at the Fairmont for about $200 also, or the Sofitel, both very good locations in DC. If you like Kimptons, there are several cheaper than the Monaco DC, like the George or Carlyle.
Christina is offline  
Mar 8th, 2016, 02:46 PM
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Yes, I knew the Alexandria Monaco wasn't vintage. Not a deal breaker. However, the distance between it and the Metro is. Can't believe I didn't catch that- thanks, Christina!!


So, now I'm thinking of just tossing the Kimptons entirely, and doing 2 nights at the Independent Hotel in Philadelphia and 1 night at the Willard. I think I'll take the lazy option and do the brunch buffet at the Willard unless someone could recommend a good brunch option near the Willard? Any great dinner spots nearby for the evening before?
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Mar 8th, 2016, 05:46 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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I've stayed at the Independent! I trust you know that it is not a full service hotel? If what it offers meets your needs (it met mine!), it can be a great choice. Here's my review, from back in 2012:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...nsylvania.html
I see that it still gets good reviews.

At the Willard, you'd be about a 5 minute walk from the Ristorante Tosca -- pricey, but excellent ... OR, if you are willing to dine early, an affordable pre-theater menu.
http://www.toscadc.com
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Mar 8th, 2016, 06:27 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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Oops -- I guess that link didn't take you to my review. Here it is:

"I spent one night at The Independent Hotel in early Oct. in a king deluxe for single use, and I loved it! The room was very well-appointed with comfortable furniture; rich décor; and a spacious bathroom that had a shower with a wonderful double-shower head, lots of hot water, and great water pressure. The breakfast was there when I had requested it, with all the items I selected; the options include a very reasonable (but understandably not unlimited, array of normal breakfast options) - one could choose to have one each of a fruit (apple or orange), juice (orange or cranberry), cereal/grain (as I recall, oatmeal, a cereal, granola bar, or croissant), and yogurt (1 of 2 or 3 different flavors). It was nice to be able to make coffee in my room whenever I wanted.

"The hotel is also very well-located, close to various bus and subway stops and within what I considered an easy walking distance of Rittenhouse Square and City Hall.

"The Independent is not a full-service hotel. If that's what you are seeking, you might be disappointed. I was not looking for that, and was very well satisfied.

"I look forward to my next stay at The Independent Hotel!

"Stayed October 2012, traveled solo"
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Mar 8th, 2016, 07:23 PM
  #12  
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Thanks, kja! Wondered about the link Sounds exactly what I expected. I didn't really want full service- usually not my style anyway but in this case, the prices of the Best Western went up and I wanted to enjoy the Willard guilt free lol.

Ristorante Tosca sounds right up my alley- my mouth watered as I read the menu.

I was actually just reading my post you contributed to last summer Did you find Philadelphia pretty easy to get around? I basically want to see: the Mutter, the UPenn museum, and the liberty bell. I have about a day and half- and I know that's not much time, but I want get a good glimpse of the city, so I'm debating between hoho bus, bike share, or on foot...
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Mar 8th, 2016, 10:42 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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I found Philadelphia very easy to get around -- but truth in advertising, most of my time there was as a resident, which is a really different way to experience a city, IME. I didn't have a car when I lived there, and don't have one on my rare, but occasional, brief return visits, and I have always found it easy to use public transportation there. BUT I'm not trying to fit a bunch of different places into a short visit.... I don't know the HOHO bus route, but the Mutter, U Penn Museum, and Liberty Bell should all be reasonably easy to access. You can use google maps to plot out walking routes and check SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) options for trains, trams, or buses -- it has a trip-planner function:
http://www.septa.org
Of course, taxis are also an option.

BTW, my absolute favorite restaurant in Philadelphia is Ristorante Paradiso:
http://www.opentable.com/paradiso-philadelphia
It isn't the easiest place to reach by public transportation, but it can be done, and OMG, it is a lovely place IMO! (And yes, I do enjoy many cuisines, not just Italian!)

And, just a few minutes walk from the Independent, I'm fond of the Caribou Cafe, which (unfortunately) gets more mixed reviews than I would expect.
http://www.cariboucafe.com

If you go to the Ristorante Tosca in DC (not to be confused with La Tasca, a VERY different beast!) the Ravioli del Plin is to die for. And there is no way, no how, that I will add a JMO to that assertion!

Enjoy!
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