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Jennifer Ceaser/Business Insider
With its monuments, museums, and of course, the White House, Washington DC is a beacon for tourists, counting a record 24.6 million visitors in 2019. But after months of lockdown due to COVID-19, the nation’s capital looks quite different these days.
Most major attractions, including the Washington Monument, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and nearly all the Smithsonian Museums remain closed. Those that are open, such as the National Zoo, now require advanced timed-entry passes. There are also many new restrictions for visitors, including wearing masks, even outdoors, except when exercising, eating, or drinking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) originally advised travelers from other countries or states with high COVID-19 rates to self-quarantine for 14 days. However, they have since removed those guidelines and are now sharing recommendations based on specific countries instead, which you may view here.
Such restrictions definitely impacted tourism. But I wasn’t in DC to see the sights. I visited on essential business, flying from Barcelona, where I currently live, to pick up my visa at the Spanish Consulate. It had been waiting there for me since mid-March when flights were suspended between Europe and the US.
I also wanted to quarantine for a week in the area before returning to Barcelona. Earlier in the year, Spain enforced a strict lockdown and maintains stringent mask-wearing and social distancing policies. So, chief among my priorities when booking a hotel in DC was to find one that was serious about its health and safety measures.
I looked for a centrally located property within walking distance of my visa appointment, and accessible to the airport by Metro. I also wanted to stay in a newer, upscale hotel. I didn’t have any scientific proof, I simply felt it would be cleaner and offer added peace of mind.
I decided to spend one night of my self-imposed week of quarantine at the Conrad Washington DC, a luxury Hilton Hotel, located in CityCenterDC — an aptly named high-end, mixed-use development. It had been open for less than a year before it shut down due to the pandemic.
The property reopened in August with new health measures in place, in accordance with Hilton’s CleanStay program. I felt reassured by this program, for which Hilton partnered with RB, the makers of Lysol and Dettol. The guidelines were in accordance with CDC and WHO and included frequent cleaning and disinfection of common spaces, extra disinfection of high-touch areas, and a seal on guest rooms ensuring they have not been accessed after being cleaned. Face coverings were also required in indoor public areas.
Also appealing were the large, modern guest rooms where I would be spending most of my time. As such, I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible and appreciated that they featured floor-to-ceiling windows.
The prices were also attractive, starting around $200 per night for an entry-level Deluxe room, with no additional resort fees, unlike similar hotels nearby. My rate was $219; with fees and taxes, it ended up being roughly $250 per night.
Finally, the design pedigree of the 360-room hotel, created by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architecture team Herzog & de Meuron, sealed the deal.