Sofitel— Lafayette Square

The artsy, French hotel Sofitel is a good choice for the international traveler, with a staff that speaks more than 30 languages—although the emphasis is, of course, on French. Guests are greeted with a “Bonjour,” and a back lobby nook done in red velvet has a library of books on such topics as Cezanne, Impressionism, and Quebec.

The modern art theme continues as guests proceed to their rooms. The three elevators play to a theme, with murals either of Tokyo, Washington, or Paris. In each of the airy rooms, a piece of colorful original artwork hangs over the bed. The same New York artist did a custom piece for all of the 237 rooms. Sepia-tone prints of Washington and Paris scenes in the rooms and around the hotel are meant to connect the two cities—a nod to L’Enfant’s designing of Washington. A lovely part of the guest room is the large bathroom, which has both a shower and separate bathtub, fresh flowers, a television speaker, and speaker phone.

The Sofitel likes to have fun, too, especially if you come on a French holiday. On Bastille Day, you are able to watch the wait staff compete out in front of the hotel in a race with trays of glasses.

The fitness center is large and modern, and all of the equipment was newly purchased in 2009.

Room amenities: Marble bath with separate glass-enclosed shower, two phone lines, LCD TV, minibar, dataport, voice mail, hair dryer, iron 

Hotel amenities: 24-hour business center with copy, print and fax; luggage storage; 24-hour fitness center; gift shop; car hire service desk; ATM; concierge; dry cleaning/ironing; translation service; overnight shoe shine; tourist information desk; currency exchange; pets allowed

Things nearby: The White House, Decatur House Museum, Renwick Gallery, National Museum of Women in the Arts