by Wendy Irvine
Sometimes a hotel just gets it right. Conceived during the roaring 20’s, the Omni Shoreham Washington DC opened its doors in 1930 and spent the next many years welcoming world leaders, presidents and celebrities into its glamorous arena. In 1964, the Beatles took an entire floor for their first performance in the states. Clinton played his saxophone here at his inaugural ball. Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Bob Hope all performed in these rooms. In more recent times Julia Roberts filmed parts of the Pelican Brief at the Omni. And the list goes on.
Sitting on 11 acres overlooking Rock Creek Park and boasting 836 guestrooms, this grand dame of hotels, beautifully remodeled through the years, awaits exhausted parents seeking a comfortable resting spot after hours of sightseeing.
The Omni’s history is impressive, sure, but there’s so much more to this hotel than just yesteryear stardust. To begin, there’s the super close location to the National Zoo and, a little further away, the Washington National Cathedral. Then there’s the place’s golden-era resort feel with its country hideaway style, the inviting outdoor pool, kid’s pool, hot tub, small spa and well-appointed fitness room. The fine dining restaurant and elegant lounge add to the old world charm.
Last there’s the many small personal touches sprinkled throughout a family’s stay at the Omni. When you first arrive the kids are welcomed with colorful backpacks bursting with toys, a water bottle, a flashlight, licorice and more. Later that evening, with a light tap at the door a silver tray appears holding large chocolate chip cookies and frosty glasses of milk for the kids.
Parents will love a stay at the Omni for the elegance and location. The sumptuous lobby, laden with long stem roses, sits beneath six beautiful chandeliers.
Our Editor Loves
- Easy walk to the National Zoo
- Resort-like outdoor pool
- Welcome backpack for kids
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At the Omni, families choose between several different kinds of rooms all hearkening back to a golden era when rooms were large, closets were spacious and doorknobs were made of glass. Choose between the Deluxe Rooms, Classic Suites, One-Bedroom Suites or Presidential Suites.
All of the rooms offer you the choice of a king, two queens, two doubles or a variation depending on the size of your room. In other words, if your tired, sightseeing body longs for the square footage of a queen- or king-sized bed, you're set at the Omni.
Get Fit Guestroom
Also, if you love working out in the privacy of your own room request the Omni's Get Fit guestroom where you'll find an honest-to-goodness motorized portable treadmill and Get Fit kit. Now that's a cool amenity.
We stayed in a super comfortable one-bedroom suite decorated in a soft butter color scheme. The bedroom and the living room each had a large flat screen televisions with great cable. The kids' channels happily included Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. The small refrigerator that comes standard in each room is no charge. It's perfect for stashing milk or leftovers. Wi-Fi is free for hotel membership program guests and it is free to become a member.
Every self respecting hotel over a certain age has a ghost room. Not to be outdone, the Omni has an entire ghost suite with two friendly ghosts that make their selves known from time to time. The story goes like this: an old stockholder moved his family into the hotel as their permanent residence; however the executive housekeeper and the family's young daughter died under mysterious circumstances. Later, after renovation, a music box can still be heard coming from the room in the early mornings. Other strange happenings add to the lore. The Ghost Suite, with the most magnificent views of the city in the entire hotel, comes with two rooms (and the possibility for connecting rooms), a formal living room, dining room, library and master bathroom. If your family is brave, or merely disbelieving, request room 870. Guests do occasionally stay in this suite, but at the time of this writing only one staff person will agree to clean the room.
The Presidential Suite is quite larger at 1,736 square feet and includes a dining room for eight, a library, a full kitchen, fireplace and balconies with views of Rock Creek Park.
Spent a weekend at the Omni Shoreham for a business conference. Overall it was a lovely experience. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. The hotel staff is extremely accommodating and the hotel easy to navigate
The hotel is very old and the rooms are shabby with a very bad odor in the corridors between the rooms in all floors!
I expected a much better kept rooms and more professional service! I don’t recommend it to any body especially that it’s quite costly and does not add up to its value.
The Omni sits in the Woodley Park neighborhood of DC just a few miles from the main action, giving a serene sense of being away-from-it-all, but there are several exciting activities for families to do in the immediate area when you don't feel like making the drive or catching the metro to the other attractions.
The Omni's outdoor resort-style pools are totally inviting and include a large pool, a kids' pool and a hot tub. The big pool water depth is kept at 3.5 feet and the kid pool is kept at 9 inches so parents can de-stress a little themselves. From Memorial Day to Labor Day enjoy high-end snacks for adults and kids at Splash! Pool Bar & Grille.
Spa and Fitness Room
Schedule a treatment in one of two rooms in the Omni's small city spa. Treatments include several types of massage (stone, deep tissue and tension reliever), facials (deluxe, business and men's) and pedicures. Work out in the Omni's outstanding fitness room that is large, sparkling clean and equipped with many machines and free weights, including recumbent and upright cycles, treadmills, elliptical trainers, a rower, step machines and weight machines. After the treatment, guests sink into the sauna found in the locker room or into the hot tub next to the pool.
Rent bikes at the Omni's fitness club for the day or by the hour. Where to ride them? Set your sights on Rock Creek Park's beautiful trails. Even if you don't feel like a full bike ride, a walk on these paths is fun, relaxing and ideal for letting your kids run around and get some fresh air.
Rock Creek Park
The Omni sits inside the 1,700 acres of Rock Creek Park, so getting to its walking and biking trails is a breeze. Rock Creek Park holds the distinction of being the oldest natural urban park in the National Park Service. Check out the park's site for great information about the ranger led programs, the free planetarium shows, the junior ranger activity guide and the abundant wildlife living here.
The National Zoo, located an easy four block walk from the Omni, spans 163 acres and offers glimpses into the lives of hundreds of interesting animals. Plan at least four hours to absorb it all. The stars of the show here in Washington are the adorable giant pandas. With only four zoos in the U.S. boasting pandas, these fuzz balls make for a unique and entertaining show. You'll also love the hilarious sight of the orangutans crossing high overhead on ropes. African lions, Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, baby gorillas and baby cheetahs are also at the zoo, depending on which time of year you visit. In comparison to, say, the San Diego Zoo, the National Zoo is much smaller and a lot easier to navigate in just one day. And at the amazing price of "free" you can't beat the experience.
The best time to visit is always in the morning when the animals are lively and most entertaining (and the coolest time of day for you). It will inevitably be crowded on holidays and weekends and tough to see much from behind the many human heads. It's also worth your time to check the zoo's extensive online calendar where you can find out about the keeper talks, animal feedings, myriad educational activities and celebrations.
Tinkling glassware. Snow white napkins. A hushed atmosphere. Lush floral arrangements. Very few things scare a parent more than the thought of their child paired with a formal dining room, especially one that the Queen herself could call home.
Robert's Restaurant, inside the Omni, is an elegant spot for adults to enjoy a high-end meal and a little adult conversation, but it's probably not the best place for kids unless your little treasure is super well behaved. At lunch you'll find small plates, entree salads, loaded baked potatoes and sandwiches that require utensils. Dinners are all about prime T-bone, roasted pork tenderloin and mushroom fettuccine. Desserts are light and airy offerings that go perfectly with the Starbucks coffee that Robert's also provides.
Open seven days a week, Robert's Restaurant serves breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m.
Marquee Bar and Lounge
This large, dimly-lit, snuggly lounge is ideal for sipping a signature martini or a great beer and nibbling a small plate of high-end burgers, fancy sandwiches and loaded baked potatoes. A range of desserts include a sundae waffle cup, a New York cheesecake and a creme brulee trio.
This is a great little spot inside the Omni where you can pick up coffee, pastries, sandwiches and juice. Perfect if you're in a pinch and have a hungry pumpkin.
Splash! Pool Bar and Grille
From Memorial Day to Labor Day lounge pool side and enjoy chicken quesadillas, BBQ wings, high end burgers and bratwurst, even baby back ribs and pineapple chicken skewers from the Splash! Pool Bar & Grille. If this menu is too fancy for the kids, no worries, Splash has a variety of menu items for kids, including mini hot dogs, PB&J sandwiches and apple dippers.
The Omni's 24-hour room service menu offers breakfast, burgers, desserts and a kid menu.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The Omni offers Wi-Fi, but there is a daily fee. To get around this, guests can sign up for the free Omni loyalty program. This program provides members with free Internet service, morning beverage service, daily USA Today delivery to your room and more on your very first visit.
Sadly, the Omni doesn't have coin operated machines, but does offer a laundry service.
Parking charges are in place for a nightly fee and are fairly low for DC standards.
The Art of Smart Timing
Spring and early fall are both the most incredible seasons to visit DC -- and the world knows it, at least in spring's case. Spring draws in serious foot traffic from visitors around the world wanting to get a glimpse of the beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms that arrive late March or early April.
If you can't make it during spring, fall is absolutely lovely from mid-September until Halloween. The trees change colors in early November if you want to brave colder temps.
Winter ushers in everything from ice and snow to just plain boring freezing temperatures. Summer is the exact opposite with not only soaring heat, but wet and yucky humidity. Even locals, who have lived in DC throughout their whole lives, say that they'll never get used to the sweltering summers.
Three airports service the DC region. Reagan International Airport (DCA) is a 20-minute drive to the Omni and the closest airport to downtown DC. Reagan is particularly nice to use thanks to its direct connection to the Metro rail. Dulles International (IAD) is located in Virginia and is 35 minutes from the Omni with no traffic. And Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) is located south of Baltimore and is a 55-minute drive in light traffic from the hub of DC.
The Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro Station is on the red line and is a three minute walk from the Omni. To find it, head east on Calvert Street toward Shoreham Drive and turn left at 24th Street.
For Mom and Dad
Adults will love to grab a pint or a cocktail in the lush leather chairs at Marquee Bar and Lounge.