Hotel Review: CitizenM Washington, D.C. Capitol Chronicles

CitizenM Washington DC Capitol, the artsy hotel that’s oh-so-close to all the cool stuff in the capital city! Those giant beds, snuggled up next to giant windows, right beneath the stars, couldn’t have found a more special place than in my series of hotel reviews.

I absolutely love all fun and quirky hotels. I love it when they silently speak to the traveller, either on work trips or vacation, about the culture and history of a place. About its roots.

CitizenM Washington D.C Capitol is such a gem, that has the plus of thriving on the sustainability side. The hotel embodies the Dutch hospitality and design, while beautifully embracing the art and cultural values of Washington DC. If you’re in town for business, then this is a refined, ideal to focus setting. However, if you’re on a cultural journey, the adventure begins right within the walls of the hotel, not just outside them.

In October, after spending a few days in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor with my husband, we decided to extend our visit with a 5-day trip to Washington. And CitizenM Capitol branch was among our first choices, primarily du to its location and more accessible price compared to other hotels in the area.

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CitizenM Capitol in Washington D.C. United States - Hotel Entrance

CitizenM Capitol Hotel Entrance, Copyright ©

CitizenM is an international hotel chain, coming to US all the way from Netherlands, that branded itself as affordable luxury accommodation.

What does that mean more precisely for a 4-star hotel in Washington D.C? first of all, the luxury of a prime location, being close to most important landmarks such as Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. Secondly, the luxury of sleeping soundly in the most comfortable, oversized beds, with fluffy pillows and an amazing panorama. And last but not least, the luxury of always feeling cared for due to a tech-oriented approach of their hospitality services.

This is not a place of chandeliers or vintage furniture. There is no extra decoration and no misuse of water and energy. Instead it’s a pure, artsy hotel, with modern crafts and high-end furniture, sleek features and elegant simplicity. Designed mostly with millennials and environmental consciousness at its heart.

Clearly made for the nowadays’ frequent travellers, mostly solo adventurers or couples, who like to wander in style, but also keep things practical, sustainable and budget-friendly.

Location: Steps from D.C.’s Historic Heart


The Capitol & Metro Station, Copyright ©

CitizenM Washington D.C. Capitol is just 5-minute distance on foot from the very central area of the National Mall. Or, at least, that’s how quickly I made it there.

As you exit the hotel, the street on the left side takes you, just past the train bridge, directly to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.A 25 -minute walk to the right end of the National Mall takes you to the Capitol, while walking towards the left end, you can reach the Lincoln Memorial in about 30 minutes.

You are also just a very short distance from public transportation a metro station L’Enfant Plaza Station is just 3 minutes away and Federal Center Station is about 6 minutes away. If you take the metro from L’Enfant Plaza, it can take you to surrounding cities: Arlington, Pentagon City and more. I totally loved that because after a 15 minutes trip I was in the lovely city of Alexandria, in Virginia.

The hotel is also close to Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), a 12 min drive. But we landed in Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) which for us was a 42 minute drive by taxi.

If you’re driving yourself, there are a few free parking spaces right in front of the hotel. In case those are taken, there’s a parking garage close by, with a standard rate of $50/day, which is typical for Washington DC.

Checking In, Checking Out


CitizenM Capitol Check-in Area, Copyright ©

Guess what! The traditional hotel reception doesn’t exist at CitizenM Washington (and most likely not at their other locations either). It has been actually replaced by several cool computers, lined up inside the hotel lobby, right by the main door.

Not far, there is always this friendly ambassador, kind of a hotel’s superhero, waiting to give you a hand if you get stuck.

So, once you come in, you get to tap-tap your details and pick a room view. I’d totally recommend the street view, the one towards the school, rather than the inner garden view. Like this, you will really feel the vibe of the city.

The last step will be setting up your electronic key card in seconds, by adding a blank one on the pad, next to the computer. And ask for an invoice, if needed.

CitizenM Washington D.C. Capitol has also a phone app, which I honestly haven’t used. But that makes it a contactless hotel.

You can start the check-in directly from your phone, and afterwards control your room settings, order food etc. App check-in works only if it’s after 11.00 AM and if there are any available rooms, if you’re within 2 km of the hotel, and have enabled location sharing while using the app.

That being said, let’s have a tour!

The Room: Where Tiny Meets Sci-Fi Chic!

Guest Room at CitizenM Washington DC Hotel

Standard Room, Copyright ©

By chance, I landed in room 635 on the 6th floor, one of the almost 300 identical CitizenM nests above the quiet School St. SW. First contact – it felt like was that I was entering a capsule unit of Star Trek Enterprise.


Both sides of the room at CitizenM, Copyright ©

Although the room spans just about 14 sqm, and might seem a bit small or narrow, everything inside has a shiny and modern touch. The best part of the room at CitizenM is this massive, comfy bed perched next to a wall-sized window. What an amazing urban landscape from there! And what a feeling! At night, the oversized, cushy pillows gently push you towards the window, allowing you to fall asleep under the stars, in the open arms of the city.

A great things is that you can always set your room’s privacy level with curtains that let only the day light pass, blinds for total darkness or the pure, naked image of the Washington D.C. buildings behind a super, super clean window.

Can This Get Any Better?

Work Desk Area at CitizenM Hotel in Washington D.C.
Storage Space under the bed CitizenM Hotel Capitol Washington D.C.

Storage space under the bed & desk area, Copyright ©

I would say.. yes!

The room is extremely well organized and compact.

Lost in the mirage of the best bed ever, I didn’t even notice the storage space from the beginning.   Under the bed, there is one huge drawer that can easily fit in a carry-on luggage and a backpack, plus any other gadgets you might have. Another drawer, just next to it, has a flat safety box that can fit in a 15′ laptop, a tablet, or many other valuables. Biggest safe I’ve ever seen in a hotel.

Other micro spaces grouped from the resting area towards the door: a workspace, desk and charging station; a multifunctional sink cabinet (fridge, recycle bin, towels, other accessories); a shower and toilet cabin; a fair-size, open closet with lots of clothes hangers and enough space for shoes.

The Control Center


Ambient Control Tablet, CitizenM Guestroom, Copyright ©

Also known as the mighty tablet that grants us, the Citizens, superpowers.

For me and Dragos, it all started with a cheerful “Howdy, Citizen Dragos!”. And it quickly became one of the standout features inside our new, little universe in Washington D.C.. The fact is that this iPad lets you control the whole ambiance, from adjusting the mood lighting’s color and brightness to setting the room’s temperature.

Plus, it controls the TV and blinds. You can also order food, schedule cleaning or read about the city you’re visiting.

The Enigma of the Invisible Friend


Room Details, Copyright ©

While you dive deeper into getting used to your new temporary, futuristic living space, you feel like the room itself is whispering to you. There is this invisible friend, CitizenM, leaving messages all over the place. The tablet, the TV, the hair dryer, the pen, and even the shower gels, have their own silent voices.

Sited on the massive bed is an irresistibly charming pillow-doll: one of the Marvins, the hotel’s mascots. To quote CitizenM: “the Marvins represent who we are as citizens; always last at the party, a good head for business, a passion for culture and a natural flare for fashion“.

Polka Dot Fashion Doll, one of the Marvins, Mascots of CitizenM hotel

Cutest Marvin Doll at CitinzenM, Copyright ©

This cutie made our stay a joy! It really brought a touch of warmth and whimsy to the room, serving somehow as a face for our imaginary companion too. Just in case you become utterly smitten with it, this is a collectible pillow that can be bought at the souvenir store… obviously, if available.

CanteenM, Breakfast & 24/6 Snacks & Drinks 

CanteenM Bar CitizenM Hotel Washington D.C. Capitol

CitizenM Washington D.C. Capitol Bar, Copyright ©

Well, at CitizenM you will not find water bottle in the room. In Washington D.C. the tap water is just good enough to drink. But you can always go and refill your very own bottle with filtered water at the bar, at the water dispenser of CanteenM, open 24/7.

CanteenM is the pit stop for the hungry citizens, no matter the hour of your cravings. The canteen unfolds around a generous bar serving drinks and cooked snacks until late at night. When I visited food was served until 12:00 a.m.: fries, chicken dumplings, crab cakes, pizza, and popcorn were some on the list. For cocktails, last call was at 11 p.m.: DC Old Fashioned, Strawberry Sidecar, Hola Mai Tai and more. The bar is completed by a counter with goodies, small grocery-like area for drinks, sandwiches and sweets.

The bar and counter area are surrounded by tables and a lounge area with TV. The whole space has the walls covered in cabinets with books and art pieces, making you feel like you are at home away from home, in a living room filled with friends. We had some beer, chicken dumplings and watched a game of American football with some complete strangers.

Breakfast Buffet at CitizenM Hotel Capitol in Washington DC
Breakfast Eggs and bread at CitizenM Hotel Capitol in Washington DC.jpg

Breakfast at CitizenM Capitol, Washington D.C., Copyright ©

For around 20USD, at CanteenM, you can have a good breakfast: coffee, scrambled eggs, ham, wedges, yogurt, chia seeds pudding, fruits, multiple bread choices and croissants. I am used to eating vegetables (like tomatoes) in the morning, and that very thing was missing. But even so, breakfast did not disappoint.

📌 Important: They do have some vegetarian and vegan options.

Other Common spaces

Living-room-like area at CitizenM Capitol, Washington D.C., Copyright ©

  • Work and lounge spaces: the whole entrance level, behind the check-in kiosks, next to the bar, is filled with a lot of micro spaces to choose from, enough to feel comfortable and in your own environment.
  • Meeting rooms: I did not need this as I was traveling as a tourist, but in case you have some business meetings, trainings, presentations and you need an unconventional space, there is one just above canteenM.
  • Gym: I desperately wanted to enjoy my vacation and the city itself, so I had no time to exercise. But there is a well-equipped gym in the hotel, open 24/7.

And that’s not all.

Rooftop Magic, The Crowning Gem of CitizenM

CitizenM Washington DC Rooftop bar

Rooftop Bar, Copyright ©

When you swipe your card key towards the elevator reader and push R button, you’re taken to the very last floor of the CitizenM Capitol Hotel, to an amazing, half closed, half open-air, rooftop bar.

But hey, try swiping cards and pushing buttons with a Strawberry Sidecar in one hand and a giant popcorn bowl in the other!! I did. Sometimes, when the bar on the terrace is closed, you can still bring up, whatever you’d like to drink or eat, from the restaurant in the lobby. Even if it’s not easy to juggle with all that stuff, the view is totally worth it.

There is this beautiful panorama, especially at night, with the Capitol, the heart of American democracy, on one side and the obelisk of the Washington Monument on the other.  The two landmarks are lit up and shine above the city, while cars and trains snake their way behind historic buildings and modern skyscrapers.

What’s Nearby CitizenM Capitol

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Washington D.C.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Washington D.C., Copyright ©

🏛️ Attractions:

  • National Mall – 5-6 minute walk;
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – 5-6 minute walk;
  • Hirshhorn Museum of Art – 6 minute walk;
  • Smithsonian Institution – 10 minute walk;
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – 15 minute walk;
  • Museum of African American History & Culture – 20 minute walk;
  • United States Capitol – 25 minute walk;
  • Washington Monument – 30 minute walk;
  • The Wharf DC – 10 minute walk.

🥪 Restaurants:

  • Subway – 1 minute walk;
  • Starbucks – 3 minute walk;
  • Rice Bar – 5 minute walk;
  • Panda Express – 9 minute walk;
  • The Wharf DC, restaurants by the Potomac River – 15 minute walk;
  • Penn Quarter, Old Downtown with sports bars and restaurants – 30 minute walk.

📅 Events:

  • Capital One Arena – 22 minute walk;
  • Walter E. Washington Convention Center – 30 minute walk.

Could Be Better

Bathroom enclosure CitizienM
Bathroom enclosure CitizienM
  • The in-room bathroom design: the shower and toilet are enclosed by glass walls, not always a comfortable design approach. Considering you’ll be sharing the room with someone really close to you, shouldn’t be such a big deal. Still, water pressure is great and you can change the colors of the lights.
  • Breakfast choices: haven’t seen any vegetables, but I did see fruits and seeds, avocado, apples, chia pudding.
  • Room charges: if you add expenses to your room number (e.g. multiple breakfasts) and you’ve initially paid all your stuff with a debit card instead of a credit card, when the sum goes over 100 US dollars, the room key card is blocked until payment.
  • Nearby restaurants: low choice of restaurants in the immediate distance, mostly fast food available. Still, with a 15 minute walk you can get to the beautiful wharf area and at a 30 minute distance in the opposite direction it’s the the Old Downtown with plenty of restaurants to pick from.
  • Souvenir store: Our cute, 5-day friend, the polka dot Marvin doll was not in stock on our departure – I was heartbroken.

The Quiet ‘Wow!’ of CitizenM

CitizenM Capitol Washington DC Hallway Art
CitizenM Capitol Washington DC Hallway

Portraits of the Citizens & Washington DC Map Carpet, Copyright ©

As an architect and early adopter, I totally love this hotel and all its subtle, yet awesome details.

  • Embracing sustainability at its core: As per gb&d magazine, the building of CitizenM Washington D.C. Capitol incorporates 20% recycled-content and 20% regionally-sourced materials, with a choice of FSC-certified wood. Plus, they are focusing on water conservation and energy efficiency (thermal envelope, individual lighting controls).
  • Promoting local values, culture and art: Each CitizenM hotel wraps up its walls with modern art from local talents. The Capitol branch is no exception, with a collection emphasizing themes like freedom, inclusion, activism, often influenced by political undertones, extremely characteristic to Washington D.C as a capital city.  The main façade boasts a nine-story artwork by New York’s Erik Parker. Meanwhile, at the interior, you’ll be able to spot the quirky US presidential portraits by Amit Shimoni, the hipster versions of people like Lincoln or Donald Trump.
  • Forward thinking: Hospitality is taken to new levels with technology and in-room tablets, increasing services efficiency and comfort of their guests.
  • Single-use plastic approach: no plastic water bottles in the rooms, no plastic salad bowls at the canteen, no plastic straws, no plastic ear buds and list can go on.
  • Inspiring kindness: CitizenM extends its care even to those who might never stay in their hotels. Whenever you say no to room cleaning during a more than 2-night stay, the hotel contributes to charity. Each time, the citizenMovement Foundation donates 3 euros to World Bicycle Relief (WBR), making possible the invaluable gift of mobility.

Signing Off 

Staying at CitizenM Washington Dc Capitol
Staying at CitizenM Washington Dc Capitol

For us, CitizenM was an ideal choice due to its proximity to all the major landmarks in Washington, D.C. I enjoy walking, and the surrounding area felt safe and was easily walkable. Being so close to everything also meant I could fit more into a single day without the need to take the metro.

The hotel provided good value for the price we paid. It was very clean, the staff was incredibly helpful, and at no point did we feel anything was lacking. Their commitment to sustainability didn’t compromise the experience; if anything, it enhanced it. It felt as though we were part of a unique community.

Moreover, the fellow guests contributed to the perfect atmosphere. During our 5-day stay, I haven’t seen too many children running around. At most, a couple with a small baby. But I could notice, around the common spaces, solo travelers, professionally dressed individuals, groups of friends, casually attired couples likely there for tourism, mostly people ranging from their 30s to their 60s.

If it’s anything I will miss is the bed by the window and the artsy feel of the lounge areas. Hoping to go back sometime soon!

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