There was only one place I wanted to stay in Georgetown, The legendary Watergate Hotel in Washington DC, home to the biggest American political scandal of the 70s which ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, but is it family friendly? I was visiting with my seven year old daughter and made sure she knew the history before we arrived so she was super excited when we pulled up and recognised the hotel from video clips we’d watched. Make sure you read all about our family holiday to Washington DC before you visit.
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We also changed rooms 3 times, the most we ever have in a hotel but more on that later!
The Location of the hotel
On a quiet day it will take you about half an hour in a cab or over an hour if its busy from Washington Dulles National Airport, its just 15 minutes from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The infamous complex has fantastic views over the Potomac River and is just 5 minute’s walk to the Washington Harbour area with its many outdoor restaurants and bars, if you’re there for leisure, it’s a lovely place to get in the holiday mood and watch the sunset.
The hotel is just ten minutes walk from Foggy Bottom Metro Station (even with a hot 7 year old!) so it was easy to visit all the sights of DC using the hotel as a base. We walked to the Lincoln Memorial one day which was a lovely stroll along the river and it took around half an hour.
The complex also has residential buildings and offices, there’s a handy shopping centre with a couple of restaurants and a grocery store for any essentials you’ve forgotten.
Design of the Watergate hotel in Washington DC
The Hotel went through a $125M renovation in 2016, the interiors are modern and the luxury is unapologetic, they’ve added some really cute touches paying tribute to the hotels past such as “I stole this from the Watergate” pencils, room keys that say “no need to break in” and “well I am no crook” mats. The whole hotel has a real sense of fun.
The whiskey bar is impressive with its walls made of bottles and contemporary seating areas.
The hotel is huge, with 336 rooms but its so spacious, it never felt too busy and we didn’t ever have to wait long at reception to speak to the friendly and down to earth staff.
It’s the attention to detail that makes this hotel so impressive, it feels very technologically advanced with easy to call lifts and touch pad lighting and climate controls in the rooms.
The hotel definitely pokes fun at its own past and makes sure not to takes itself too seriously. We loved these “rules”.
The Rooms and Hotel
This is where the fun really began. On checking in I decided to upgrade as I really wanted a room with a balcony (there’s my inner history geek!) and as staying at the hotel was a special treat anyway, I thought I may as well go all out. (it was an extra $45 per night) The room was lovely, think moody greys and crisp whites, it had a small balcony with great view across the river and a lovely bathroom with a shower, not a tub.
There was space to unpack which we did but on using the bathroom, discovered there was a horrid smell.
We phoned down to reception who promptly sent up maintenance and after a bit of faffing and quite a while they decided they couldn’t fix it so would need to move me. Every mums nightmare at half eight in the evening with a jet lagged 7 year old!
We packed up and they sent up a porter to help move us, we moved floors and went through a kind of unmarked secret door to our new suite, the porter seemed a bit confused as to where the room was, which door to open but we made it in to the next room, unpacked again and settled down for the night even though the room wasn’t ready for us – the bin was full, drinks station hadn’t been restocked.
On leaving the room for breakfast the following morning I tried to get back in the room using the key the porter had left, only to discover it didn’t work, we tried it in the other door and it opened up into the most amazing suite I’ve ever seen.
So it was back down to reception to sort it out, it turns out the porter had put us in the wrong room! So they offered to move us again, the thought of packing up and moving again was unattractive to say the least but I just couldn’t resist that amazing suite and Piper was in her element!
Ordinarily this would have really annoyed me, 3 room moves over 2 days is not how you want to start a family holiday. But the staff were all so caring and helpful and the suite so beautiful, I just didn’t feel like having a moan.
So, onto the actual room….. It was massive, three rooms in fact, a living area, enormous bathroom with separate shower and bath and the bedroom with a huge comfy bed.
The room was on a corner with a balcony stretching round the whole of the outside. Again with great views of the river. The floor to ceiling windows made the rooms feel bright and airy. But the blackout blinds managed to block out any light when we were trying to sleep.
We loved watching the helicopters come and go and wondering who was inside them!
The room had a fab coffee machine and champagne bucket and there were lovely toiletries in the bathroom. Although there’s no tea…. I realise that’s a very British comment and always bring my own anyway!
There were fluffy robes, slippers and heaps of storage space. I think the whole suite was larger than my first flat!
Special Features for Kids
Not really any specific features for kids but if you explain the history, I’m sure they will love it.
The pool was a massive hit with Piper, it was mainly deserted so she could splash about without me worrying. For some great tips on pool safety for kids, check out these 5 Water Safety Tips for Enjoying Your Summer from the brilliant A Modern Mom’s Life.
It’s attached to what looks like a gorgeous Spa although I didn’t get a chance to use it.
The Food at the Watergate hotel in Washington DC
The hotel has one main restaurant, Kingbird, again beautifully designed with contemporary interiors and a menu to match.
It’s American with a French twist and pretty pricey. We had the pasta and a grilled cheese and people watched whilst imaging what underhand deals were going down!
The service was pretty slow and the menu very limited but the host was very friendly and the food decent. We only ate in for one night. The waterfront area (5 mins walk away) became our go to place to grab dinner, it had a very family friendly feel.
You can also eat at the gorgeous rooftop bar, Top of the Gate. But the menu is even smaller. We just visited for a cocktail (mocktail for Piper) whilst we watched the sunset and headed downstairs for dinner.
It definitely felt quite snobby and they didn’t seem that happy to seat us. But that’s probably just as its more of a grown up bar than one for kids. It was $6 just for a sprite, so one drink was enough for us!
On our last day, the hotel left us a fruit plate and some nuts. A was a lovely touch to make up for the room mix up. Also with a really sweet note.
The management really does have customer service at the top of their list.
Is the Watergate value for money
Well it’s definitely not cheap but surprisingly, for its history and location, it definitely didn’t break the bank. You can check the latest prices here but a standard room will set you back anywhere from £200 per night, our final suite starts at around £400.
In summary, I would LOVE to go back. This hotel draws you in with the history and holds you there with the service. It’s the only place I’ll stay when visiting Washington DC with kids.
Have you stayed at the The Watergate Hotel in Washington DC or do you have another favourite DC hotel? I would love to hear what you thought. You can check out the latest prices on Tripadvisor by clicking on this link The Watergate Hotel
What you need to know:
Watergate hotel in Washington DC
2650 Virginia Ave NW
1 (844) 617-1972
CHECK-IN / CHECK-OUT
15:00 / 12:00
Overnight valet parking costs $52 per day
Wifi is complimentary and strong throughout the hotel
If you’re looking for family friendly things to do in Washington DC, you may also like:
This great review of the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space