Unexpected, to say the least, the Henley Park Hotel is an English country retreat in the heart of the city. Built as an apartment building in 1918 in the Tudor style (with art deco touches), it was a place for politicians, which may explain its genteel manor feel. The fireplace-warmed Wilkes Room, skylight-covered restaurant and botanical accents throughout give it a home away from home feel. It’s hard to believe Massachusetts Avenue is just outside the door.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel is not ADA compliant.
The smallish guest rooms in this boutique hotel are different shapes and sizes due to the historic nature of the building, but they all are decorated in warm colors, dark-wood antique furniture reproductions, plush beds with Frette linens, plaid bed skirts, floor-length floral drapes, and gold-framed botanicals hanging on the wall. You have your choice of a standard room, deluxe room, and junior suite.
The rooms can be noisy; request a room at the back of the hotel, away from the streets.
The bathrooms are cute but small, thanks to the hotel’s historic nature, with tub/shower combos; some bathrooms have windows. All rooms come with fluffy robes and slippers.
You enter into the stone and Mercer-tile foyer of an apparent English castle, with leaded glass windows, graceful archways, a tapestry, and a sky-blue ceiling. But the place to be is the sitting room to the right, called the Wilkes Room, with its antique furnishings (from the owner’s personal collection), big windows, warming fireplace, and lived-in feel. High tea is offered here daily (for a fee).
The fitness room, on the second floor, is tiny, dark, and stuffy. There are two treadmills, a bike, and no weights.
The Tavern at Henley Park Hotel features a New American menu in a warm, cozy room with a skylight atrium, brick walls, big mirrors, and ornate chandelier. The gargoyles came from the Commodore Hotel in NYC. Afternoon tea is served daily (for a fee) in the adjacent room, called the front parlor.
The Henley Park Hotel is one block from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, with Penn Quarter’s buzzy restaurants and bars and the Capital One Arena within easy walking distance; major sites and monuments on the National Mall are a quick taxi ride away (though on a pleasant day, it's an enjoyable stroll). Your best bet for public transportation is the Metro, with the Metro Center metro station just six blocks away.
Brasserie Beck (4-minute walk) is a popular bistro-style go-to serving Belgian-inspired cuisine by two renowned DC chefs complemented by a long list of Belgian brews. Morrison-Clark Restaurant (2-minute walk) serves creative American cuisine with a local twist in a historic Victorian mansion, its dining room an elegant showplace of Italian marble fireplaces, chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Dubliner (22-minute walk) transports you straight to Ireland, with cozy green and red walls, polished wood, live Irish music, and flowing Guinness. Even though The Dignitary (1-minute walk) is in the massive Marriott Marquis, the Dignitary is a clubby whiskey bar with a speakeasy feel.
WHY WE LIKE IT
We love the complete immersion into the genteel English countryside as soon as we enter into the Tudor-style entrance hall. Afternoon tea by the fire is sublime. Much of the staff has been here for years, even decades--always a good sign.