Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel Review

I've traveled around the world and then some; and as near as I can tell, there's three types of hotels... Classic, modern and casual to a fault. The latter is strictly for folks passing through, spring breakers and the like. The Hamilton Crowne Plaza is a combination of classic and modern with a nod to the former. Makes sense, since there's lots of history behind it (it dates all the way back to 1922.) But make no mistake, the Hamilton is up-to-date where it counts (beautiful lobby, 37" flat screen TVs and fine linens.) Me? I like a little bit of both; so settling into the Hamilton was a literal (and relaxing) breeze, even if it was just for one night.

This is our first (of many?) hotel reviews; so please bear with us, as we find our footing. For years, I've relied on the likes of Expedia and Hotels.com for the inside scoop; but I like to focus on different (often overlooked) details. No black light inspections here (that's creepy, don't you think?) Clean is clean; and it's safe to say this room was spotless. The carpet was immaculate: Ditto for the bed sheets and covers. The (proportionally) enormous bathroom was spic-and-span clean (bathtub, sink, toilet, etc.) Nice view from the 14th (top) floor window, overlooking the lush greenness of Franklin Square and the Washington Monument in the distance.

Checking in was a pleasant (and quick) experience, aided by two capable front desk clerks, eager to please. I was given a room key and a dinner reservation confirmation for 8:30; as well as a list of nearby places to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao "fight of the century." Total time elapsed: Under five minutes. Headaches incurred: Zero.

My room key worked on the first try (details, details) and I was delighted to find a comfortable temperature inside (set at 72°) two complimentary bottles of Evian water and the radio (set to WETA 90.9) filling the room with classical music. There was also a lovely fresh flower (more details) to the right of a cozy sofa under the window: Nice touch. The bed was King-size with an Andrew Morgan Collection blanket, pillow-top mattress, plush bath robe and relaxation kit featuring Temple Spa QUIETUDE. End result: A terrific night's sleep. Note to self: Buy Temple Spa QUIETUDE, and use at home. Cross fingers for similar sleeping experience.

The room (King Bed Executive with a Park View) is affordable as well, especially on the weekends. Looking ahead, you can book the same room on Saturday, June 6th for a mere $144! As for location, prepare to be dazzled once again. Ideally situated at the corner of 14th & K Streets, NW, the neighborhood is very safe with several bus routes (including the DC Circulator) literally steps from the main entrance. It's also less than two blocks away from Metro (McPherson Square on the Blue-Orange-Silver Lines.) If you want to go out to eat (read on, to learn about the Hamilton's excellent 14K Restaurant) DC Coast is directly across the street, Toro Toro across the park, and &Pizza in between. All three are superb, and have received very positive reviews from yours truly.

Heck of a view, overlooking Franklin Square

As for negatives, there weren't many. The elevators are a tad small, and not as fast as most. There's no pool (bummer, since I don't swim... LOL) and not many amenities outside of a well-equipped fitness room, a Starbucks, and the impressive 14K Restaurant and Lounge. Other than that, I can't say a bad word about the hotel. Now that's impressive.

Huge Bathroom

Great bathrooms are high on my list; and the Hamilton provides a terrific one. You get all the basics (hair dryer, plenty of towels, Kleenex, etc.) in addition to shaving & toothbrush kits (no need to call down, and ask.) Look below for slippers; and there's even a tiny sewing kit for emergency repairs. Water pressure is terrific in the shower; and it's actually one of the easier shower faucets to figure out (a most welcome change.)

Delta shower head... Good water pressure

Cable TV channels are many (including HBO) and most are in HD. Noise levels are PERFECT: I heard nothing, save for my own radio & TV. The bed was super comfy; and while I didn't need it, wake-up calls are available. The carpeting (I warned you... I focus on weird stuff) was really, really comfortable. Vending machines are available on each floor; and a hotel employee stops by around 7 PM with ice and three mints (score!)

Nice carpet... Very comfortable


TV Channels

I'm a sucker for bedtime mints

Dinner: Room service just isn't my thing (although I'm sure I'll have to give in, as we review more and more hotels) so a good in-house restaurant is essential. Thankfully, the 14K Restaurant offers a culinary oasis to its guests without having to leave the hotel (although they do have a popular patio on the K Street side.) 8:30 is late for dinner (even on a Saturday night) but that afforded me a little bit of "extra solitude," as I was escorted to a quiet table (per my request) in the back. The dining room is quite beautiful with marble tables, beige leather chairs and elegant appointments (marble candle holder = romantic.)

14-ounce Grilled Ribeye Steak

My server Mikaela (what a sweetie) introduced herself, took my drink order (cranberry juice) and offered me bread (yes please!) She came back a minute later with a very short glass (no worries, she'd refill as needed) and word that the kitchen had popped bread in the oven for me. Who knew seven words could sound so scrumptious? Mention hot bread, and I literally melt on the spot. Since it's the weekend, and I was technically "on vacation," I decided to feed my inner caveman with Fried Calamari ($11) and a 14-ounce Grilled Ribeye Steak with sweet potato puree and grilled asparagus ($36, one of those rare occasions when I order the most expensive item on the menu.)

House Bread

Bread was fine (and plenty hot.) Ditto for the Calamari, which was served with remoulade sauce and a wedge of lemon. Fried food isn't what I'd normally order (at such a nice restaurant) but when feeding a caveman... There was plenty of squid inside a flaky, well-seasoned exterior. Maryland Crab Soup was another option; but when you set your sights on eating a fun meal, it's imperative to follow through. Needless to say, I had no regrets.

Fried Calamari

On to the "main event," a staggering 14 ounces of perfectly prepared (MEDIUM, as requested) ribeye steak with a silky sweet potato puree that disappeared in mere seconds. No need for steak sauce, as the steak was well-seasoned and very juicy. Fried onion straws on top added a nice bit of crunch. I must be getting old, because it wasn't easy finishing almost a pound of top-flight meat (although you'll be glad to know I got the job done.) Mikaela checked in often, as did the host (thrice) ensuring I was enjoying every delicious bite.

Apple Crepes

Credit Mikaela with talking me into dessert; although truth be told, I had no business doing so. I settled on an order of Apple Crepes with caramel sauce, raspberries, whipped cream and glazed almonds (with vanilla ice cream on the side, not pictured.) If you're keeping score at home, that's crunchy (almonds) sweet (caramel sauce, whipped topping) and light (apple, crepes.) My only "complaint?" I wanted more of the caramel; but I chalk that up to personal greed, more than any other reason. Dessert = perfect.

Complimentary Ice Cream on the side

Terrific food and even better atmosphere (nice music - Phillip Phillips, Charlene Soraia and The Weekend) provided a delightful end to a long day. One word of caution: The lounge up front gets a bit noisy (hmm, I wonder why... Saturday night, people having fun, etc.) but I was well-protected from the fray. If you're in need of a weekend recharge, you'd be hard pressed to do better than dinner at 14K. Me? I was already thinking about breakfast...

Breakfast: Yes, breakfast. What can I say? I like to eat. 14K offers a full Buffet for just $23 ($12 for kids 4-12, and FREE for tykes 3 & under.) Expect the usual (bacon, eggs, fruit, pancakes, potatoes, sausage, etc.) in addition to fresh omelettes.

Breakfast Buffet

My server (Hen) was quite exceptional; and despite an almost full dining room, I didn't have to endure any waits whatsoever (even for toast.) Sausage links were enormous, and well-flavored (spicy even) and the bacon was well-cooked and surprisingly thick. Potatoes were tender; but I must admit, the eggs were overdone and bland. Keep in mind, eggs aren't meant to sit in a buffet tray for too long: Looking back, I should have asked the kitchen to prepare some from scratch (my bad.)

If hot food isn't your thing (and shame on you, if that's the case) you may be better served with 14K's generous Continental Breakfast Buffet ($15.) I counted more than a dozen different muffins & pastries... literally something for everyone. Nice and fresh, too. Both buffets come with coffee, tea, juice, and milk (not to mention cereals, yogurts, etc.)


After breakfast, it was (sadly) time to pack up and go home. I don't get sad all that often; but I absolutely hate leaving a nice hotel room. Granted, it's a small price to pay for a 24-hour break from the reality of life. Given that most of our readers are based in the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) you might be wondering... Why post a local hotel review? Why not? One doesn't have to travel countless miles to escape their ordinary everyday surroundings. The Hamilton Crowne Plaza proves you don't have to spend a lot either. Best of all, you can drink and party to your heart's content without any of the guilt or worry about getting home. All you need to be able to do is open your hotel room with your key; and I think we covered that already (smile.) Easy as pie... Unless you don't think you're worth it (and shame on you once again, if that's the case.) Curious? Click here to learn more, and make an online reservation. P.S. Make sure to sign up for the IGH Rewards Club before your stay. It's FREE and easy to do (click here.)