Motto by Hilton Washington DC City Center

Motto Washington City Center



4.1/5 Pros

  • Great location
  • Amazing staff
  • Lovely rooftop cafe Cons

  • Very small (but functional) rooms
  • Cash price is too high

Is this already a hotel? Or is it something like an upgraded hostel? I was really curious when I had my first stay ever at a Motto by Hilton hotel. Finally, apart from my curiosity, the aggressive pricing of US-American hotels nowadays pushed me to the decision to give it a try when I had two days in Washington D.C. during my April 2024 Pittsburgh Penguins trip. Here is my review of the Motto by Hilton Washington DC City Center.


Motto Washington City Center – Location

The micro hotel, how the Hilton Group is branding Motto stays, is having an excellent location. Based in Chinatown, right next to the famous Friendship Archway, it is also just across the street from the Gallery Place – Chinatown stop of the Washington Metro. The station features three lines, the Green, Yellow and Red Line. By that, it has short non-transfer connections to Washington Union Station as well as Reagan National Airport (DCA). The National Mall with all the museums is just a short metro hop or a some ten minute walk away. For me, it was also very important that the hotel is less than five minutes walk away from the Northern entrance of Capital One Arena. On one of the evenings, I watched an ice hockey home game by the Washington Capitals there. The arena is also home to the basketball team Washington Wizards.

Even though Washington in general features some spooky beings, the area is overall safe. It features several basic restaurants. A Walgreens store is just around the corner, offering drinks and snacks. Due to safety concerns, the door to the hotel is always closed from outside. Either reception staff or your key card is opening it.


Motto Washington City Center – Room

The hotel offers several room types. At my time of booking, I just could choose between two options, a twin bed or bunk bed room. I went for the bunk bed, because it looked like you simply have more free space in there. I did pay my room with Hilton Honors points. The daily rate, including tax, for my two night stay in April, Wednesday to Friday, would have roughly been 300 USD per night. The room is basic and comes with a total size of 150 square feet, which is roughly 14 square meters. The room is very intelligently designed, but you cannot deny it is compact. There was complimentary water for Hilton Honors Diamond members, but no fridge, microwave or similar items. The upper bunk bed had an own reading light. I would have loved to have it on the lower bed as well, where you could only switch on a light, which more or less illuminated the whole room – might be bothering if you stay with two people.

The bunk bed is high enough that you can also place major suitcases underneath. I also appreciated the high number of power outlets everywhere in the room. The bathroom is divided from the remaining room by a sliding door, which alternatively closes the door to the hallway. The bathroom is very compact as well, but it worked out. A rather unusual item in the room was the steamer, which I rarely had in a hotel room before. The size of the bathroom also leads to the situation that the shower is just divided by a light curtain. There is no water running out of the shower while using it, but the chimney effect causes that the curtain sticks at you while showering permanently. Amenities are provided by dispensers. They were actually really nice.


Motto Washington City Center – Food / Rooftop Cafe

The Motto hotel does not have a hotel restaurant, but a really nice rooftop cafe, which is also popular among the locals. I surprisingly got an 18 USD per night food voucher as a Diamond member, so that I checked out the place one morning. The staff was very nice and offers basic breakfast items. The quality of the breakfast burritos and pastries was absolutely fine. The stunning feature of the cafe is the lovely terrace with a view. I guess it is a blast in summer. There used to be a restaurant at ground level as well. However, it has been closed during my stay for renovation.

One side note is that, as a hotel guest, you cannot access the cafe from your room directly. You first have to go to ground level, where a member of security staff activates the (possibly: same) elevator to the top floor by his key card. In the opposite direction, of course, you don’t need to take that detour if you want to head from the cafe back to the room.


Motto Washington City Center – Service

The staff in the hotel is excellent. There was a touch of hostel in a positive sense in the Motto by Hilton Washington City Center. You felt a rather close and personal touch in the way the guests were treated. I absolutely enjoyed that. WiFi in the room came with excellent speed as well. In the basement, the hotel is running a pretty neat gym.


Motto Washington City Center – My View

First of all: the Motto hotel concept is a valid one. And the Motto by Hilton Washington City Center are living it with pride and a lot of enthusiasm. I felt very welcome and enjoyed the excellent location and short connection in the US-American capital. Based on my needs, the hotel was an excellent choice. However, you have to state that the cash price feels to high, even despite the location. The hotel room is very functional and thoughtfully designed, but even compared to other US hotels, I would not pay much more than 200 USD per night for the hotel. In fact, there are peak times where you pay over 400 USD, non-refundable. If people pay that, it is the right of a hotel to demand it.

Another question I have, which does not influence my rating: People book a Hilton. They expect a Hilton. Maybe a Hilton in the sense of a Hampton by Hilton. Does Hilton damage its own branding with the Motto brand? During my stay, I thought a lot about the hotel The Retreat Palm Dubai – MGallery by Sofitel I stayed in 2021. Several hotel guests got very confused by the branding Sofitel and expected something very different. The Motto by Hilton brand has the potential to lead to a similar confusion. in Washington D.C.

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