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Hotel Check: citizenM

Washington, DC

Background This Dutch brand is expanding across the US with hotels designed for both business and leisure travelers. All of its rooms are similar in size and share the same price, and the staff is trained to do a variety of jobs.

Where is it? It’s within easy walking distance to the National Mall, Smithsonian museums and Washington Monument. A metro station is also conveniently close.

What’s it Like? Instead of a traditional front desk, guests use touch screen kiosks to check in and receive their key. Especially clever is the space to write your name and address plus hole in the key card that allows you to use it as a souvenir luggage tag after your stay. For those preferring contactless check-in, an app can unlock your room using your smartphone’s Bluetooth capability.

The hotel’s living room has locally commissioned art (including hipster adaptations of past president portraits), hundreds of art and design books that guests can borrow, and decorative pieces that range from eccentric to clever making the lobby’s playful social spaces unlike any other hotel. An enormous photo mural representing Coney Island surrounds the elevators; this is a signature photo found in all citizenM properties. There’s also an iconic red spiral staircase in the living room plus the brand’s fragrance in public spaces dispensed via diffusers. The hotel’s design motto is that an empty wall is a wasted opportunity, and that is readily apparent in this colorful and modern hotel.

Rooms Like other citizenM properties, the carpeting in the guest room hallways features a map of the surrounding area. All the 252 rooms have enormous windows with great views and extra-large king beds covered with inviting Plush duvets and pillows. Designers maximized the compact room size by installing drawers large enough for a suitcase under the bed. Desks feature ample power outlets, and everything in the room is controlled via iPad. A large TV screen is mounted on the wall for cinema-style entertainment. All-white vanities within the room have high-end toiletries and the water closet and powerful shower are concealed behind translucent glass as well as a white curtain.

Food and Drink The cloudM rooftop bar and patio will prepare delectable cocktails with beautiful views of the city’s skyline. During the day, it’s a great co-working space. On the street level is canteenM, which serves 24-7 drinks and light meals.

Leisure Facilities The fitness center features the latest equipment. It is shared with the residential development in the adjoining building, which means the gym is better than your average hotel facility.

Business and Meetings Facilities Seven meeting rooms, known as societyM, feature eclectic design with quirky art meant to spur creativity and conversation. All have natural light, espresso machines, and long boardroom-style or circular tables. Free wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel, and the lobby’s conversation seating areas are ideal for co-working.

Verdict The local art and design theme is inspiring and energetic giving the hotel the trendiness of a W hotel, but at half the price. It’s definitely affordable luxury.

Best For Playful art and design pieces and a panoramic rooftop bar and patio

Don’t Miss The eclectic wall collections in the meeting rooms – even if you’re not having a meeting

Price Internet rates for a traditional room start at $99.

Contact 550 School Street SW, Washington, DC, Tel: (202) 747 2145.