Fodor's Expert Review Mandarin Oriental
1330 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20024, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice
A swanky, deluxe world near the Jefferson Memorial and Southwest Waterfront, the Mandarin Oriental entices with East-meets-West flair. You’ll be wowed throughout this airy space designed on feng-shui principles, from the cavernous lobby to the on-site art gallery to the 10,000-square-foot spa. Though for many guests, it’s the impeccable, personalized customer service that counts the most. Not to mention--this is the closest hotel to the famed springtime cherry blossoms.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The location is a bit off the beaten path, with few restaurants and bars in the vicinity (though that will change after the completion of the Southwest Waterfront in 2018).
Your spacious room is minimalist, light and airy, with custom-designed, dark wood furniture, and a calming neutral palette accented with robin-egg blue and celadon green. The pillowtop bed and super-soft Egyptian cotton sheets will have you pressing the snooze button for as long as you can.
If you’re in town during cherry blossom season, try for a Water View room overlooking the famed cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. The City Views on the higher floors are applauded year-round, with their dazzling views of the monuments.
Now these are bathrooms! Grand, spa-inspired marble and tile rooms boast rainfall showerheads, oversized towels, and Gilchrist & Soames bath products.
The enormous, sumptuous lobby showcases walnut columns and gleaming marble floors, with rocking chairs and sofas enticing you to linger awhile.
The 50-foot, heated indoor lap pool is the perfect place for a quick workout. Loungers and chairs surround the pool for those who want to relax a bit, though the adjoining sundeck overlooking the Potomac is an even better choice in sunny weather.
A Zen-like ambiance permeates the 10,000-plus-square-foot spa, one of DC's largest--and finest. This is the sort of place locals book for special birthday treats.
Try the Bamboo Massage, using hand and bamboo in a soothing session of rhythmic movement and gentle stretching.
The 1,400-square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness center boasts TechnoGym training equipment, including resistance and cardio machines, as well as stationary bicycles, cross trainers, treadmills, and free weights. And if that's not enough, personal training sessions are available as well.
The informal Muze offers American with an Asian twist (prime beef tartare, Maine lobster XO); sit on the terrace if the weather is warm. The Empress Lounge is known around the city for its cocktails, light fare and tea.
The Mandarin Oriental is a couple blocks south of the National Mall, overlooking the Jefferson Memorial. With the amount of traffic in the city and lack of parking, a car is not recommended. Your best bet for public transportation is Metro, with the Smithsonian metro station a five- to ten-minute walk away.
The nearby Southwest Harbor is in a state of flux, but as soon as it’s done in 2018 it will be your go-to for many waterfront restaurants and bars. In the meantime, catch a cab to Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola (8-minute drive), the nearest Michelin-starred restaurant, featuring seasonal Italian cuisine and a nationally recognized wine program. Another good option is Capital Grille (9-drive), a tried-and-true steakhouse in a power-brokering setting.
Again, the Southwest Harbor will be your go-to upon completion in 2018. In the meantime, grab a cab to enjoy the buzzing rooftop POV (10-minute drive), atop the W Washington DC hotel, offering bird’s-eye views of the monuments with your fancy cocktails. Or, if you prefer to stay on this side of the National Mall, CityBar atop the Hyatt (6-minute drive) offers glorious sunset views of the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Mandarin Oriental reminds us the second we walk in the door that this is one of DC's finest hotels. It's glossy, swank, and gorgeous but never over-the-top. The exercise addicts among us covet the indoor lap pool and amazing gym (not to mention, the accessibility to the various paths winding around the nearby National Mall). And the footbridge straight to the Tidal Basin makes us believe we are honored guests during cherry blossom season. But when all is said and done, it's the little touches that will keep us returning--the concierge's remembering of our names, the cozy slippers at the side of the bed.
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