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The Hay-Adams 5.0

Downtown, Washington, D.C., United States

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Review Summary

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  • Unbeatable location right across from the White House
  • Five-minute walk to two metro stations
  • Beautiful, elegant rooms with classic decor and an array of modern comforts
  • Some rooms have great views of the White House
  • Premier restaurant and famous bar draws both locals and guests alike
  • Business center with computers, printer, fax, and Nespresso machine with free coffee
  • Tesla car service available around downtown area
  • Impeccable, attentive service
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel


  • Entry-level rooms are a bit small for a luxury hotel
  • Neighborhood is dead at night
  • Fitness center is a bit small
  • No in-room coffee/tea facilities
  • No on-site spa or pool

Bottom Line

Quite possibly the most famous hotel in the capital, and deservedly so, the five-pearl Hay-Adams draws power brokers, dignitaries, and VIPs from around the world with its impeccable service, great bar and restaurant, and elegant rooms, some of which overlook its famous next-door neighbor, the White House. This historic property has stately, classically styled interiors full of Old World details, and its 145 guest rooms come equipped with an array of modern comforts, including large flat-screen TVs, well stocked minibars, and free Wi-Fi. Business amenities abound here, with a 24/7 business center complete with a Nespresso machine, free morning newspapers, and even Tesla car service around the downtown area. The Jefferson hotel has a similar historic and luxurious vibe -- plus added amenities like a spa -- but it doesn't beat the Hay-Adams' location. 

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Historic boutique property with a stately vibe, impeccable service, and one of the most envied addresses in the capital

One of the most famous hotels in D.C., the Hay-Adams made news early in 2009 when the Obamas stayed here for two weeks prior to inauguration. The property's illustrious history dates back to 1884, when best friends John Hay (Abraham Lincoln's private secretary and later a secretary of state) and Henry Adams (the author and descendant of John Adams and John Quincy Adams) built their homes on the plot of land where the hotel now sits. The houses soon became salons buzzing with intellectual discussion, attracting influential guests such as Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Henry James. In 1927, nine years after Adams' death, the houses were razed and replaced by the current hotel.

Politics undoubtedly remain part of the nightly repertoire here. The hotel's esteemed restaurant and famous bar, the aptly named Off the Record (whose motto is "Washington's Place to be Seen and Not Heard"), host power players from both sides of the aisle. One step into the dark, cozy tavern in the basement, and you immediately get the feeling that some fairly important decisions have been made here by people from the West Wing, or at least "The West Wing" characters.

The equally intimate lobby is much brighter but no less classy. Among its many highlights are beautiful details like vaulted archways, baroquely filigreed ceilings, handsome wood panelling, and elaborate flower bouquets. Orchids festoon every hallway and elegant Old World details pepper the place, like grand oil paintings, chandeliers, and fireplaces.

Attention to detail is easily apparent, and the hotel goes above and beyond to please guests. Free Fiji bottled water can be found throughout, and even the "tap" water in the restaurant is chilled Fiji (which to some might be an egregious slap in the face to the environment). Other thoughtful details include a Nespresso machine in the business center, while kids enjoy a nightly turndown service with milk and cookies.


Across the street from the White House

The Hay-Adams is located right across the street from Lafayette Square, which is essentially part of the White House's sprawling front lawn. Demonstrators regularly congregate here to voice their political agendas. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is located right next door, and a handful of other government offices, business headquarters, as well as St. John's Church, also known as the "Church of the Presidents," are in the immediate area. A fair number of restaurants and cafes are within a two-minute walk, but this area has a mostly quiet, corporate feel.

The immediate area, in the heart of old downtown, bustles during the day with nine-to-fivers in power suits, but it's positively desolate at night. Your only dining and drinking options are on-site or at other hotels like the Jefferson, the W, or the St. Regis. The location is a prime home base for daytime sightseeing, however, and several top sights can be reached on foot: the White House is just a five-minute walk away, while the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History can be reached in about 20 minutes. Other sites can be easily reached via public transportation, and the hotel is just a five-minute walk from two metro stations. Union Station, D.C.'s main train station, can be reached in 18 minutes by subway. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is about a 15-minute drive from the hotel, or 23 minutes by subway, while Dulles International Airport is a 30- to 45-minute drive, depending on traffic, or about an hour by public transportation.


Small but stylish rooms with an array of amenities, plus some have great views of the White House

Because of the building's structural limitations -- it was built in 1928 -- the rooms are relatively small by modern luxury standards (the smallest ones measure 245 square feet or 23 square meters), and guests should also note that most of them do not overlook the White House. That said, the Hay-Adams' rooms are gorgeous: elegant yet understated, bright and comfortable, they're classically furnished with traditional pieces, lovely fabrics, and a soft color palette that favors cream, white, and beige shades. The pleasures are in the details, which vary from room to room, including ornamental fireplaces, decorative carvings, and patterned ceilings. Panda figures that can be placed on beds to alert housekeeping not to wash the linens are a cute and eco-friendly touch. 

Suites offer much more space, ranging from 550 to 1,800 square feet (51 to 167 square meters), and some have gorgeous views of the White House. They have either sitting areas or separate living rooms -- plus some have dining tables.

Standard amenities include 50- or 55-inch flat-screen TVs, mini bluetooth speakers, mobile charging stations, laptop safes, well stocked minibars, and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms are fairly standard -- though those in lower-category rooms can be a bit small -- and come equipped with shower/tub combos, magnifying mirrors, hairdryers, robes, slippers, and a great selection of toiletries. Some suites have soaking tubs and separate showers.


Upscale restaurant and popular bar, small fitness center, well-equipped business center, and meeting and event space

The Hay-Adams doesn't offer anything unexpected in the way of amenities, but all of its features come with state-of-the-art equipment and luxury touches. The fitness center, for instance, sports free bottles of refrigerated Fiji water and modern cardio machines with private TV screens and headphones -- though it's a bit small in size. The business center, too, offers free bottled water, as well as a Nespresso machine, and is well equipped with computers, a fax machine, and a printer, plus Wi-Fi is free throughout

The Hay-Adams's restaurant, the Lafayette Room, isn't quite up there reputation-wise with those at the nearby St. Regis or Jefferson hotels, but it still wields enough cache to draw beyond its hotel-guest base. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as Sunday brunch, and serves upscale American fare. Renowned pianists plays nightly and enhance the atmosphere. Hors d'oeuvres and other light fare is available at the bar, Off the Record, while dinner is served there on the weekends. Room service is available 24/7.

There are several lovely and intimate meeting rooms available that are perfect for big-time dealmaking in small numbers. There's also a ballroom that's popular for larger functions, such as weddings, as well as a lovely roof terrace that's open for private events and features gorgeous panoramic views of the White House. Other perks include free morning newspapers of choice, as well as free morning and evening Tesla car service around the downtown area on a first-come-first-served basis.

Because of its mature vibe and conservative decor, the hotel isn't ideal for families with young children -- but kids are catered to with several amenities, including free cribs and rollaways, as well as turndown service with milk and cookies.

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Things You Should Know About The Hay-Adams


16th & H Sts. NW, One Lafayette Square, Washington DC, District of Columbia 20006, United States


(202) 638-6600

Also Known As

  • Hay Adams Washington Dc
  • The Hay Adams

Room Types

  • Capital Suite
  • Deluxe Room St. John's Church View
  • Executive Studio
  • Federal Suite
  • Interior View Room
  • Junior Suite
  • Lafayette Park View Junior Suite
  • Lafayette Park View Room
  • Lafayette Park View Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • St. John's Church View Suite
  • Superior Room
  • White House View Room