Inn at Dupont Circle
A Relaxed Setting Surrounded by Our Nation's Capital
by Courtney Caldwell
Entrance at The Inn
the right hotel in a city in which you've never been can be at best daunting.
Sure, there are the mainstream chains, which offer consistency like McDonald's;
you always know what you're going to get no matter where you get it. And that's
all well and good if the status quo is all you're after. But the big question
is, especially for women travelers, is it in a safe area? Since safety is the
number one concern women have when traveling alone then all the status quo in
the world is useless if the hotel is not in an area in which you feel safe and
comfortable. In fact, safety and security has become such an important issue that
it's led to the rapidly growing trend of bed & breakfast use all over America.
such place, hidden in plain site in the heart of Washington, DC, is The Inn at
Dupont Circle. Built in 1886, this historic house still harbors a sense of history.
The hardwood floors and wooden staircase creak and echo footsteps as guests make
way to their rooms. It could take some getting used to if you've not been around
wooden floors before. However, it's a small sacrifice for the excellent location
and safe environment The Inn provides.
snugly between other historic DC buildings The Inn resides at 1312 19th Street,
an area surrounded by nonprofit organizations and law firms. Trees stand erect
in the brick laden sidewalks and black cast iron gates protect entrances and doorways.
At The Inn, there is no key for entry but rather a combination, which requires
your memory to be in good working condition. Owner Lydia Pena Simone decided that
after too many keys lost by guests a combination would better serve as protection
for she and her guests.
Salon and the 1890 Steinway
entry, guests are met by a small sitting salon, which is host to an 1890 Steinway
grand piano, which is nearly as big as the salon. The story goes that the Steinway
was bought in a yard sale years ago for a mere $150. Later, its savvy new owner
had it appraised and discovered the yard sale treasure was worth nearly $100,000.
of the Inn's age there's no elevator nor are there plans to install one. But that
doesn't seem to matter to many of the repeat clients I had a chance to chat with
while there. They loved coming to The Inn when in Washington with several mentioning
they recommend it to clients, friends and family. In fact, it seemed to be all
the little nuances and character flaws that made this home so appealing.
eight rooms at The Inn are each submerged in their own slice of history
with every one different than the other. There are three floors with rooms on
the lower level being the largest and most expensive starting at $215 per night.
The higher you go with luggage in tow the rooms become less expensive starting
at $165. The top floor is home to 3 very small rooms and one shared bath, and
oddly enough has repeat patrons so often that they feel comfortable enough to
leave their doors unlocked or opened. Strangers united in this architectural delight
suddenly become family and friends. If size doesn't matter, but cost does, then
these bigger-than-a-bread-box rooms range from $89 to $125, a steal for DC.
Internet is available free of charge in every room, and for those who don't have
a computer, the house provides one in a tiny room converted in the attic. The
only way to access this room is via a very narrow hidden staircase in the back
of the house.
were installed in the 30s by then-owner and famed psychic, Jeanne Dixon, where
she and her husband lived and died from 1936 to 1996. I was happy to have not
known this little piece of trivia before I went to bed. Due to an overactive imagination
coupled with creaking staircases, I would have likely hid under the covers, if
not the bed, all night waiting for a haunting. Alas, there was none.
former office has been converted to an outdoor solarium. The religious art in
the background once belonged to Dixon.
radiators are controlled by one central system. The only way to cool down your
room on a hot summer night is to open a window or turn on the more recently installed
window air conditioner in your room. It's these kind of oddities that give this
old place character and charm. Consider yourself lucky to even have a radiator.
During Dixon's domain, rumor has it she was so cheap, she refused to heat the
top floor often leaving guests under heaps of blankets and fully clothed to avoid
freezing to death. No doubt Ms. Dixon's lack of warmth contributed to her life
as a recluse in her old age. Folklore has it that the deeply spiritual Dixon lived
in this 4 story dwelling all by herself long after her husband died, surrounded
only by religious art and portraits of herself in every room.
rooms at The Inn are comfortable and charming. My room was draped in white wicker
furniture including a rocking chair by a fireplace, which was once the only source
of heat for each room. Lydia has preserved the history in this old place by keeping
it true to its heritage. Everything from historic wooden chests as footlockers
to old flip-front desks; to built-in bookshelves laced with literature from long
ago to cozy quilts hanging above each bed. Yet, somehow all the modern necessities
were nicely blended in with all the possessions of another time. Each room was
equipped with color TV and DVD player, coffee maker, 2 bottles of water, a ceiling
fan, alarm clock, pillow top mattresses, and toiletries.
The Inn is a also supporter of Project Planet, a program designed to protect the
environment through the conservation of water and decreased use of detergent.
Guests who are staying more than one night are left a Project Planet calling card
which informs them their linens will be washed every three days unless they otherwise
decline the offer. Adding to their political correctness, the calling card is
printed in six languages including English.
seemed to be on a first-name friendly basis telling me that The Inn had become
somewhat of a home base for many of its visitors. That impressed me the most about
The Inn. There is an immediate sense of security as if everyone, whether they
knew you or not, was watching your back.
full breakfast, including to-order, is served from 6am to 10am. There's nothing
continental about it. Everything from a full ham to several kinds of breads and
cereals to fruits and yogurts are there for every kind of appetite. It was nothing
more than a brief wait for my egg white omelet to arrive cooked exactly the way
I liked it.
you decide to stay at The Inn tell Lydia I sent you. It's that kind of place.
Also, if you have the time, ask for a tour and the full history. It's pretty fascinating.
One particular thing you may want to check out is a tiny loft-like suite hidden
in the back of the house, which is slyly accessed through the kitchen pantry.
Its current guest, who had been there for six weeks working on a novel, was kind
enough to give me the five-cent tour. A spiral staircase led to a tiny loft, which
combined the bedroom and bath into one space. One could literally roll out of
bed and into the shower.
of 8 guest rooms at The Inn
arrangement of The Inn may not be for everyone, especially those who are spoiled
by the lap of luxury. But if you like history and unique experiences then I strongly
recommend a stay at The Inn at Dupont Circle the next time you're in Washington,
DC. It's definitely worth the experience, and even if you never go back (which
is very unlikely) you'll walk away with a story to share for a lifetime.
more info or reservations at The Inn at Dupont Circle: Call 866-467-2100
or go to: www.theinnatdupontcircle.com