When Tommy broke his arm in April, it immediately threw my plans for spring break into question. I had been envisioning a weekend of cycling around the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake with maybe a little kayaking thrown in for good measure. Our trip to Washington, D.C. was therefore a spur-of-the-moment affair, and the first question I had to answer was where we would stay. I was familiar with the Omni Shoreham from previous visits there with Matt, but I’d always assumed it was more of a “date” hotel than a “family” hotel. You know, the kind of place where you stay when you are six months pregnant with your second child and really need to get away from your two-year-old and want to sleep for twelve hours and then eat a huge plate of bacon. (Oh wait, that’s not your idea of a date? Sorry.)
But then I heard from some blogger friends that the Omni chain offers some special things aimed at making families feel welcome and I decided that a stay was in order. And I’m glad that I did.
For starters, I like the Omni Shoreham’s location in the northwest corner of the city near the funky Adams Morgan neighborhood. If you’re arriving by car it’s an easy drive from the Beltway (and the valet parking is reasonable for the city at about $25 a day). From the hotel, it’s a ten-minute walk to the National Zoo and a quick metro ride to downtown (the metro stop is right across the street). It’s also an easy cab ride to Georgetown. Although we didn’t get the chance to explore the Dupont Circle area on this trip, Matt and I have walked down there from the hotel on other visits and it’s easy to get to The Phillips Collection, a wonderful small art museum that would be great to explore with kids. It’s also right next to Rock Creek Park, which has lots of hiking and biking trails (you can actually rent bikes at the hotel if you want). There are plenty of restaurants either an easy walk or a quick cab ride away. I’ll be writing about some of them in future posts, but in particular I recommend Open City right across the street and Firefly, just off Dupont Circle.
Other things we liked about the Omni Shoreham:
Our room. We stayed in a Classic Suite, one step up from the hotel’s Deluxe rooms. Although the beds shared the same space, the wall in between them and the sofa was a nice touch. After days of walking around Washington’s museums the boys easily fell asleep while Matt and I sat and read. There was an empty refrigerator (I like it when hotels don’t stock the fridge so you feel afraid of opening it because you might accidentally drink a $10 soda), a large closet with two bathrobes, and a bathroom that was tucked into a corner offering a bit more space and privacy. I was given a special deal, but rates for Classic Suites usually run between $199 to $299 a night.
The Sensational Kids program. When we checked in the boys were delighted to receive goody bags shaped like backpacks and containing a small flashlight, Twizzlers, and a few toys. These were a welcome distraction and entertained the boys while Matt and I unpacked. Then, just as the boys’ energy was flagging after a day spent hoofing it around the Capitol and the National Museum of the American Indian there was a knock on the door and like magic milk and cookies appeared. Other features of the program include canteens that the children can fill at the hotel’s restaurants and a rolling suitcase full of playing cards and books on hand at the concierge’s desk.
The staff. Whether they were standing at the door, behind the front desk, or by the buffet table in the restaurant everyone was to a person, smiling, pleasant, polite, and helpful. When we had drinks in the Marquee Bar and Lounge, our friendly waitress helped Teddy to order a virgin strawberry daiquiri (which arrived topped with whipped cream) and then asked many sympathetic questions about Tommy’s arm.
The lobby and grounds. The Shoreham lobby has an old-school glamour that I like, with huge chandeliers and flower arrangements. And the grounds are lovely for a city hotel, with gardens, grass, and plenty of space for a romp, comfy hammocks, and even chess and backgammon tables. There’s also a heated outdoor pool for the warmer months.
Breakfast. There are lots of things to love about the breakfast buffet, which is served at Robert’s Restaurant at the back of the main lobby. The dining room is a grand, mirrored affair full of flowers and light. There is a breakfast menu, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t choose the buffet, which offers a made-to-order omelet bar, homemade granola, Belgian waffles, and copious amounts of fresh fruit. In fact, the boys were more excited about the chance to eat unlimited amounts of raspberries and blackberries than anything else! I love to see extravagant offerings that are also healthy. The buffet costs $20 per person for adults (kids cost $9) but given that none of us really needed lunch – Matt and I skipped it altogether and the boys each had a single slice of pizza – I think it counts as a bargain. Some of the hotel’s packages include complimentary tickets for the buffet; I’d say this adds significantly to their value given its size and quality.
The loyalty program. I am unabashed in my love for the Omni Select Guest program which is free to sign up for and which offers a number of truly nice and meaningful perks right off the bat. Number one on the list is free Wi-Fi but members also get a free beverage delivered to their room in the morning, a free newspaper, and complimentary shoe shines and clothes pressing. And it only takes ten nights to get a free room and to get bumped up to the next level which offers deals like late checkout and room upgrades.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a very low rate and a few special treats courtesy of the Omni, who knew that we were coming (a nicely chilled bottle of chardonnay on our first night was probably the most appreciated!) but given how well we were treated by the staff who didn’t know that I was a blogger, I’d say any family would feel right at home. To find special family packages and discounts, sign up for the loyalty program and check out the Omni website or their Facebook page.
Want to see some more pictures of our stay at the Omni? I’ve shared a gallery on the Mother of All Trips Facebook page. And while you’re there, why not “like” the page so that you never miss a post or special offer?