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The Nation’s Innkeeper in the Nation’s Capitol:  Holiday Inn Central-Washington. D.C.

Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer

On the road from New York to Florida in early February, our thoughts went back to the many times we’d made the trip from our home (in Long Island back then) to the southeast bottom of the nation, and how, as  began to fall along I-95, our kids would be looking out the windows, longing for a glimpse of the silver star atop a tower lit by blue neon, and against a green backdrop, the words: “Holiday Inn.” It felt like coming home.

Maybe even better. After a day-long drive, they (and we as well) could look forward to a streamlined, modern room with big comfortable beds and a sparkling bathroom, a restful night’s sleep and a good breakfast the next morning before hitting the road again. Named after the 1942 movie starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, Holiday Inn was our standard stopover and true to its name: “The Nation’s Innkeeper.”


And now, after all these years, we are heading south once again and spending a couple of nights at a Holiday Inn. Only this time our destination is not off I-95, but in the heart of the nation’s capitol, six blocks north of the White House. And instead of a low- rise motel, we’ll be stay in swanky 212 room, 10-story hotel of cream-colored stone with green window treatments that stretches along Rhode Island Avenue and down 15th Street. “It’s Not Your Ordinary Hotel” is the property’s slogan, and it lives up to the promise.

David Kusnetz, Senior Sales Manager, and Don Evans, Director of Sales and Marketing, introduced themselves as we were checking in and then escorted us through a spacious lobby marked by rich paneled walls and gleaming marble floors into a lounge where free-standing plush sofas upholstered in a fabric of plum-purple-blue vertical stripes curved around the room forming intimate conversation areas. The crowd was animated, varied, international. On the other side of the lobby, barstools at the Avenue Café Bar and Lounge were filled.

It was just a few weeks after the Inauguration and the spell of that special time still lingered. “We did a lot of renovation of the property in time for the Inauguration,” David told us. “The lobby and restaurant were redone in time for that key event. The guest rooms were refreshed with new décor and features like a built-in safe big enough to accommodate a laptop.”

Senior Sales Manager David Kusnetz

Director of Sales and Marketing Don Evans

A suite with a safe big enough to store a laptop

 “Wi-Fi  is free at the Holiday Inn, not only in the business center and conference rooms but  throughout the hotel,” David added. “Guests keep telling us how pleased they are with that feature.”

We try to think out of the box,” Don noted. “For example, we have a free laundry setup on the first floor: two washers and dryers, open to all registered hotel guests. All they need to enter is their hotel key.

“And we have an electric vehicle charging station. Enterprise, the auto rental company, has an outlet nearby, and for the past six months they’ve been leasing electric cars which can be charged at our station, complimentary for guests, and at a very reasonable charge for others. It’s part of the government’s green initiative. There are a lot of green initiatives, but this is something unique.”

A grouping of First Ladies. Can you tell who is who?

So is the hotel’s rooftop swimming pool open during the summer and a workout facility where information appears in seven languages. Clearly, attention is paid to the international clientele. At the same time, there’s no mistaking of the hotel’s locale; a variety of artifacts and themes reflect its Washington setting. Most memorable and meaningful to us was the permanent exhibit of photographs of First Ladies that decorate the walls of the hotel dining room, going as far back in time to when Mrs. William Howard Taft lived in the White House.

A bright open space of contemporary design with a huge buffet station in the center, the Avenue Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, each with an extensive list of dining options. Food and beverage director Marshall Wickramaratne runs a busy and complex kitchen that handles not only restaurant dining but an extensive catering operation for the regularly held banquets and events that can accommodate as many as 200 people. Although Marshall is from Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon), his culinary knowledge knows no borders, ranging from dishes inspired by the flavors of his Far Eastern childhood home to foods of the Mediterranean, the United States, and beyond.

Holiday Inn has been part of the Intercontinental brand for many years, and this one had the feel of a global village. But Don and David, who are visible and active presences at the hotel, are natives of Queens and veterans of New York City’s hospitality scene. Still they seem very much at home in the Washington, D.C. environs and in particular at the Holiday Inn. In some ways, they remind us of the “nation’s innkeepers” we met during our trips down to Florida years ago — engaged, warm and welcoming.

At the forefront of a sophisticated, glamorous and very 21st century property, they seemed to us the embodiment of a tradition of decades-old hospitality passed on to a new generation of hoteliers. For us, spending a couple of days at this Holiday Inn of the present evoked pleasant memories of many a stay at the Holiday Inns of the past.

Holiday Inn Central Washington D.C.      
1501 Rhode Island Avenue, N. W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Phone: 800-248-0016
Web:  Http:// 

Photographs by Harvey Frommer

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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