Urban Living at Kimpton Hotel Palomar DC
by Geri Bain
After driving from New Jersey, I am happy to hand my keys to the valet at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Washington, DC and say goodbye to my car for a few days. Stepping into the lobby, I stop to pour myself a refreshing cup of cool lemon water, which along with iced tea and fresh apples, is on tap throughout my stay—a welcome treat during the hot Washington summer. During my friendly check-in, I am informed that free coffee and tea are set out in the mornings and that I can have an in-room coffee maker on request along with a host of other free “forgot it; we’ve got it” amenities. I’m also invited to the complimentary wine hour every evening in the living room-style lobby. Like other Kimpton properties I’ve stayed in, the lobby has a social, inviting vibe, and throughout my stay, I notice people lounging on the couches with their computers or chatting and sipping drinks.
I chose this hotel for its proximity to Georgetown, Rock Creek Park, and the National Mall, and for its fitness facilities. I especially love that there’s an outdoor pool and complimentary bike use (based on availability), but there is also a yoga mat and programming on TV, and a fitness center. I’d planned to unwind from my long drive with a bike ride around nearby Rock Creek Park, but the summer heat leads me to shift plans and, after unpacking, I head straight for the pool. It is surrounded by a small sundeck, where a few families and handful of business people and couples are stretched out on chaise lounges. The pool is big enough for me to swim laps and not disturb a father coaxing his water-winged toddler to swim or the handful of people dangling their legs in the water. There is no mistaking this is a city pool; windows look down from all around, but it’s great to have this urban oasis in the heart of D.C.
The 335-room hotel recently completed a redesign and it feels modern and sleek, with sculptural furnishings and fun details like a retro alarm clock, colorful throw pillows and original modern art. My premier city-view room, with two queen beds, is spacious and the floor to ceiling windows let in plenty of light when the curtains are open. Comfy beds are outfitted with Frette linens, and the bathroom has a full tub, dimmable lights, and pleasing Atelier Bloem bath amenities dispensed in environmentally-conscious full-size containers. I am happy to find that WiFi is fast and free to members of their no-charge loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club. I also like the plush robe and although I didn’t bring my dog, he could have stayed at no charge, a nice Kimpton extra. (Pet-free floors are maintained to accommodate people with allergies.) Of course, none of this is really free; the hotel charges a mandatory activity/amenity fee. But you do get a lot of extras. The hotel will even drive guests anywhere within a mile of the hotel from 7 to 9 a.m. on weekdays; 8 to 10 a.m. on weekends (there is no wait the morning I check out the service, but like the loaner bikes, it is available on a first-come, first-served basis).
In a chic neighborhood like DuPont Circle, an eatery has to be good to attract a local clientele, and Urbana is as much local hangout as hotel restaurant with entrances from the lobby and street. The award-winning restaurant, whose food is also served poolside and via room service, is known for its house-made pasta and wood-fired pizza, with tasty gluten free options. I can vouch for the Cavetelli, made with spicy lamb sausage, bitter greens, pesto and pecorino; even when sated, I keep taking one more mouthful—and one more, savoring the flavors. My companion and I start with a green salad, and it tastes garden fresh. In fact, many of the ingredients are harvested from Executive Chef Ethan McKee’s rooftop garden. Also scrumptious are our deserts: a ricotta cheesecake and a raspberry pie with branca menta ice cream. There is more on the menu I’d have liked to taste; had I been in town for a Saturday night, I’d probably have reserved a spot at the chef’s 10-seat tasting table for Cicchetti at Urbana, an eight-course menu of traditional Italian small plates, prepared and served by Chef Ethan.
For more information, visit hotelpalomar-dc.com
Geri Bain, a widely published travel writer and editor, has written about more than60 countries and contributed to publications including inc.com, N.Y. Daily News and Robb Report. While travel editor at Modern Bride magazine, she wrote an acclaimed guide to Honeymoons and Weddings Away. She is a past president of the New York Travel Writers Association and former editorial director of Endless Vacation magazine.