Service, dining and spacious rooms: 3 reasons I loved staying at the Thompson Washington, DC
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When it comes to your favorite hotels, those in our nation’s capital may not necessarily come to mind, despite being heavily dependent on business travelers and tourists alike.
In fact, tourists, conventioneers and business travelers were responsible for approximately one-third of the District’s pre-pandemic population growth, as first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by D.C.’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer. In March of last year, there were more than 16,000 workers in the accommodation industry, which is mainly hotel employment, before dropping sharply in April 2020 to 7,400 employees, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So I looked no further than Hyatt’s Thompson in D.C.’s Navy Yard, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood near Nationals Park and Capitol Hill.
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“The bread and butter of D.C. hotels is business travel,” said the Thompson’s front office manager, Jason Harrison. “It’s what keeps D.C. afloat.”
I was very impressed with the hotel’s adherence to COVID-19 protocols and diligence in keeping hotel guests and staff safe. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Maialino Mare. The hotel is no-frills and boasts a welcoming staff.
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Because I am new to the world of points and miles, I booked a king room using cash for $198 for one night, a discounted rate for World of Hyatt members. A 14.95% room occupancy tax and destination fee/tax of $28.74 brought the cash total to $256.46. This same room would cost you 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
You could earn points by booking with the World of Hyatt Credit Card. Additionally, you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio from certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Note that the hotel’s cancellation policy is 48 hours prior to arrival, or up to 24 hours for World of Hyatt Explorist or Globalist members.
The Thompson is located on Tingey Street SE in Navy Yard, a historically Black neighborhood that has rapidly seen its residents priced out. From 2000 to 2013, D.C. reported the highest percentage of gentrification in the U.S., displacing more than 40% of Black residents from low-income neighborhoods, according to a study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
Today, the neighborhood is a popular spot with locals and Capitol Hill staffers who enjoy amenity-filled high-end apartment and condo buildings (such as Estate at The Yards next to the Thompson). M Street SE is where most of the action is and where you’ll find popular fast-casual joints like Sweetgreen, Cava and Nando’s, along with casual sit-down options, including the Bluejacket brewery, Emmy Squared Pizza and more upscale Chloe, which currently provides service to hotel guests on days when the hotel’s restaurant is closed.
It’s also a short walk to Nationals Park, home of the 2019 MLB World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals — with an emphasis on the one-time victory (I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan, sorry). For history and travel buffs, it’s also right near the Department of Transportation headquarters, which includes an outdoor museum.
If you walk south toward the Anacostia River, you’ll run into The Yards Park, featuring a waterfall, performance venue, open grassy areas and a riverfront boardwalk overlooking Southeast D.C.
For those arriving via the Metro, the Navy Yard-Ballpark station (on the Green Line) is a five-minute walk from the hotel and if you’re arriving in D.C. by air, the hotel is a 15-minute drive or so from Washington National Airport (DCA).
A week before I was scheduled to arrive on Aug. 12, I received an email reminding me about my upcoming trip and the day before, I received an email prompting me to check in online via the World of Hyatt mobile app. I did not go this route for the sake of the review, but it is a convenient option. Express checkout is also available on the app.
Upon walking into the lobby, I was drawn to the open concept with lots of seating areas, bright furniture and unexpected use of lines in design, specifically the light features and room dividers.
My favorite piece in the lobby was a black and white vase, shown below.
That morning, I had called the hotel to see if I could check in earlier than the standard 4 p.m. I arrived around 3 p.m. and the process was super quick and easy and felt very safe given the use of plexiglass at the front desk.
I have to say the check-in process was rather enjoyable, thanks to the aforementioned Jason Harrison, who moved to the area in September 2019 as part of the Thompson opening.
In a case of most unfortunate timing, the hotel opened in January 2020 and remained open until the week of March 15, 2020, before surrendering to COVID-19. Harrison and his crew reopened Aug. 20, 2021, and brought back all of the hotel staff to do so, an effort he said has involved “pairing levels of comfortability and safety” among hotel guests and staff simultaneously.
“We innately have to keep everyone safe,” Harrison told me. “We’re trying to make everyone feel comfortable. We’re not doing our job if we can’t make it a win-win.”
This commitment to safety was well documented throughout the hotel, from the lobby to the hallways to the elevator to the room itself.
Thompson considers their king room “large” with its 306-338 square feet of space, “large windows” and spacious bathroom.
As this was a one-night reprieve from the 500-square-foot apartment I’ve been spending most of my time in, the room did feel quite spacious.
My favorite feature of the entire room was the desk next to the windows, which was awesome for remote working.
The king bed was very comfortable and a welcome upgrade from my queen, although there was no top sheet. I know there’s an ongoing debate about the necessity of top sheets, not unlike headboards, but I am personally team top sheet.
Although there was a nightstand perched on both sides of the bed, the distance from the bed to the light was too far to reach comfortably. The whole point of having a light next to your bed is so you can reach it from bed without having to get up, am I right? While we are on the topic of lighting, there was an annoying red flashing light that persisted throughout the night from the provided phone. And both I and my guest found the master light switch situated near the front door to be confusing.
Overall, the room’s lighting was rather dark, with the exception of the bathroom.
As I’ve mentioned, this hotel far outperformed the others I’ve stayed at since March 2020 in its adherence to pandemic protocols, including in the room, where both trash bins had their own bags left out for you to put in upon arrival.
I honestly found this a bit odd and certainly was not expecting to be fitting my own trash bag when I’m paying over $250 a night.
One trash bag I did very much care for was the one provided for dirty clothes. I do believe this was the first time a hotel has ever provided a full-sized plastic bag for dirty clothes.
The bathroom, like much of the hotel, was sleek in design and minimalist in nature, excluding the six towels provided for our one-night stay. I definitely appreciated this as I have been known to go through towels quickly thanks to a sweating condition, which leads me to my next point.
Perhaps due to user error, the thermostat failed to work throughout the stay, remaining at a coolish 72 degrees.
A robe was provided upon request, but it was dirty and therefore was uninviting.
As previously alluded to, amenities are lacking at the Thompson and basically begin and end with the fitness center on the lower level. I was impressed with its size given the hotel only features 225 rooms and suites. The gym was well stocked with a range of standard cardio machines, free weights, a strength training section (with kettlebells and weighted balls) and a rowing machine. Extra points for the gym’s TRX bands and rower, which I usually do not see at hotel gyms.
Once again, I was pleased to see a note from the hotel requesting gymgoers adhere to COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing and sanitizing of machines.
Food and beverage
In normal times, the Thompson offers three dining outlets, including room service, which is temporarily unavailable. Their in-house restaurant and rooftop bar more than made up for it.
We started our evening outside at Anchovy Social, expecting to be impressed by the views. Much of the surrounding area is currently under construction, as is par for the course with Navy Yard, and that most definitely obstructed the bar’s current views.
The views did not in the slightest affect their cocktails, and both the Ambrosia Spritz and Espresso Martini were deliciously refreshing in the 100-degree weather.
Since we were running a bit late and had a dinner reservation at the restaurant downstairs, we asked if we could take our drink with us, and they happily obliged.
A Roman-style trattoria from Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer, Maialino Mare is the sister restaurant to New York City’s Maialino. Their menu is largely comprised of various kinds of seafood pasta and fish, compliments of executive chef Rose Noel.
If you’ve read any of my previous stories, you’ll recall that I am both dairy- and gluten-free, and thus any restaurant’s favorite kind of diner. Upon giving our waitress the whole dietary spiel, she assured us that nearly everything on the menu could be modified to be dairy- and gluten-free.
In place of the usual first course of bread were olives, which was a nice touch and something I hadn’t seen a restaurant do before.
Next came our two appetizers— prosciutto and melon and the peach, arugula and mint salad, as recommended.
While delicious, neither my friend nor I tasted the mint in the salad.
For our mains, we ordered two gluten-free pasta dishes — the pappardelle with bolognese and trenette with vongole, i.e., pasta with cockles, white wine and garlic, along with roasted Yukon gold potatoes with rosemary and garlic on the side.
Our server very kindly recommended that I not add salt to the dish because cockles are very salty in nature. She was correct — note for your future orders containing cockles.
The total for two appetizers, two main courses, one side and one cocktail was $116.16, very reasonable for an upscale D.C. restaurant. I should note that while there were diners wearing shorts, as I imagine is often the case after Nats games, I would advise wearing jeans at the very least.
As of Sept. 7, all Maialino Mare patrons over the age of 12 and staff will be required to show proof of vaccination, per a USHG mandate. Acceptable proof of vaccination will include a vaccination card, photo of your vaccination card, a government-provided digital record or the Health Pass by Clear.
In the morning, coffee, pastries and tea were available for all guests at the lobby bar from 6:30-10 a.m.
Additionally, continental breakfast and lunch options, as well as alcohol, are currently available for purchase 24/7 via a mini-market located at the front desk.
Accessible rooms at the Thompson Washington D.C. come equipped with the below features:
- Emergency strobe light and strobe-light smoke detector.
- Cordless phone.
- Wide doors.
- Lowered thermostat and light switches.
- Lowered peephole and door latch.
- Accessible bathroom.
- 55-inch flat-screen TV with closed captioning.
You can book an accessible room online for $219 per night.
I would deem the service to be the best part of my stay. Unfortunately, the front desk failed the key test, when I asked for a new room key and was given one without question of my identity — a failure of security.
The staff members were talkative, attentive and appeared grateful to be there, particularly at the front desk, Anchovy Social and Maialino Mare.
Overall, the Thompson Washington D.C. is a nice hotel full of modern, aesthetically appealing design and genuinely friendly staff members.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was anything special in terms of recommending a D.C. hotel to an out-of-towner,” said my friend Bre Revell, who experienced the hotel with me. “But the staff was great and I appreciated their adherence to COVID protocols.”
The focus on COVID-19 measures is really what I want to hit home here. Nearly everywhere you walked there was a sign or some sort of note reminding people of special protocols.
Housekeeping services are currently being limited to every three days, available more frequently on request. This was not an issue for us since we stayed just one night.
Face coverings were required in all public areas, including bathrooms, and the elevators were specific to the floor of each guest, meaning you entered your destination and then were directed to one of the three elevators based on that.
In line with the restaurant, Jason Harrison, the front office manager, told me that all hotel employees will be fully vaccinated come next month.
“A lot of us jump into this industry because it’s exciting, each day is never the same,” he said, while acknowledging that working in hospitality during pandemic times continues to be a challenge. “You gotta love it right now — people working in the hospitality industry love what they do, so you’re in good hands.”
The Thompson’s location in Navy Yard and minimalist provisions are suitable for certain tourists, including those who want a four-star hotel with easy access to a baseball game. It also makes for a fun night out for Washington locals, featuring one of the best restaurants D.C. has to offer.
Featured photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy.
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