The Donovan House, on Thomas Circle in downtown Washington, is an ultra-modern business travelers’ hotel by Kimpton Hotels. Some months ago, this was a quirky niche hotel operated by Thompson Hotels. Some years ago this was a tourist class, economy oriented Holiday Inn. And just over a decade ago, no one wanted to be on Thomas Circle. Times have changed. What was originally a rescue by Thompson to save a hotel which desperately needed a reinvention, Kimpton has now continue the rescue operation by sculpting this otherwise “out there” boutique hotel into a very friendly environment for serious business travelers.The building is completely unassuming from the street. It sits directly on Thomas Circle, the important intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, 14th Street, as well as Vermont Avenue and M Street. This circle separates residential DC to the north from business DC to the south. And most importantly, to the east is straight line access to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Convenience is key for the hotel for sure, and its metro access and proximity to dining is excellent.
The lobby is intimate like in many Kimpton hotels – dark and cozy and with a warming fireplace. Seating hangs from the ceiling, the first clue of the intriguing interior design to come. Stage right is their now three meal a day restaurant, Zentan, whose fine Asian fusion cuisine now has a very strong following locally. The hotel is short on meeting space but its primary niche is the business traveler and small groups.
Perhaps the element which espouses the most fun is nearly visible from the street. The retro inspired but futuristic chairs in the rooms are a marvel to look at. Even more attention grabbing, and perhaps the signature element of the guest rooms is the bathroom. These “Jetson” like out of this world showers, spiral around from the bathroom and jut a circular fiberglass orb or sorts in to the guest room. I was leery at first – would the shower hold its warmth? Would it be comfortable in the slightest. And indeed it was. This was a big plus. Form and function! The platform bed is also a nice touch aesthetically. Overall the hotel gives guests a lot to talk about and now, with the added benefit of comp internet in guest rooms and comp wine hour each evening, more and more people are talking!