TOP DC HOTELS: Conde Nast Got It Wrong!

In its Gold List 2011, Conde Nast Traveler magazine got it wrong when it ranked the top hotels in our nation's capital.

Conde Nast lists four hotels as its top picks for DC:
  • St. Regis (overall score: 90.1)
  • Ritz-Carlton (overall score: 88.9)
  • Hay-Adams (overall score: 88.4)
  • Willard Intercontinental (overall score: 88.1)

I've visited all four hotels and stayed at three. Although only two points separate the "top" from the "bottom" on Conde Nast's list - hardly enough to quibble about - my list would rank them differently:

Recently, I considered all four hotels for a meeting I was planning. I found the St. Regis the least desirable, primarily because I found the service less attentive than at the other hotels. In addition, the facility makes much of its on-site restaurant, Adour, created with chef Alain Ducasse but it is inexplicably closed for dinner on Sunday and Monday nights. You can guess which nights I was there...

The Hay-Adams is my favorite for three primary reasons: the service is gracious, personal, and unparalleled; it's small, intimate, and charming; and it's directly across Lafayette Park from the White House.

The Willard Intercontinental and the Ritz-Carlton are tied for second in my opinion. The Willard has tons of history and is right around the corner from the White House but, thanks to President Andrew Jackson who reputedly had the Treasury building built where it is to block his view of the U.S. Capitol, the Willard has no view of the White House. It's also much larger, less personal, and a bit more gaudy than The Hay-Adams, though still very nice.

The Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown is unique because it was built in the area's old incinerator and carries on the theme throughout the hotel. Service is excellent, as is the food at the on-site restaurant. The one drawback is the location: Georgetown. Georgetown is a delightful place, but guests at the Ritz-Carlton won't have the same experience of being in the center of Washington action as guests at the other three hotels.

You can click on the highlighted hotel names above to read my previous reviews of three of the properties.

With all said, however, you probably won't have a bad experience at any of the four. But if you've never stayed at any of them, do yourself a favor and make The Hay-Adams your first choice.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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