We just got back from a weekend stay at the Lorien and have high regards for this new Kimpton property.
Property: The exterior of the Lorien is decked out in colonial red brick and white trim. It blends seamlessly with its neighboring original colonial buildings. The street entrance is really just an arch into a secluded (no cars) courtyard surfaced with red-brick pavers. A beautiful clock oversees the courtyard. The lobby entrance at the back of the courtyard is unassuming and the front desk is about 3 steps into the entrance. Off to the right of the front desk is a lounge/library with chairs and couches. It had a perfect funky colonial vibe. Beyond the lounge/library, Lorien sported another inviting courtyard. The elevators in the Lorien were near silent. Living in the city myself, I can appreciate noiseless elevators. The Lorien is not a big hotel and its hallways on each floor were easily traversed. Ice is only available through in-room dining and no ice was delivered in the afternoon or evening as a matter of course. My biggest complaint about the property in general is that there is a lack of hotel common areas to gather (save for the two courtyards which are less inviting in February). I think as Lorien gets more popular guests may get frustrated by a crowded lounge and lack of private seating areas to enjoy the company your with. Also, there are no grand spaces. You will never be in awe by any of the common areas or feel any sense of grandeur (like you can be at many five star hotels). The lobby is small, the hallways narrow and the layout a little cramped. Sure, the décor and some of the common space is neat and funky, but the space is remarkably modest. Perhaps this is what Lorien was going for, but for rooms starting at $350/nt, the common areas were quite limited.
Rooms: We booked a King room (at $149/nt) and we were upgraded to a King Suite. Thanks Lorien! The king suite was spacious. The bathroom was the best feature of the room. The bathroom had an open layout with the bathtub, shower, toilet and vanity all in the same room. In other words, if a guest needed to use the toilet and someone was (a) at the vanity; (b) in the tub; or (c) in the shower the guest could not use it without having a spectator (that’s okay for some folks; not for others). The bathroom was enormous (appox. 10’x18’) and had Kohler fixtures. The shower head was a perfect blend of gentle with plenty of pressure. The bathroom was clean and open and had great charcoal gray tile. The suites were painted in a light blue and were tastefully decorated. The common/sitting room had a desk that was made of polished concrete and a rock hard couch which concealed a pullout bed. There was not a whole of natural light in this area. One could walk out on a tiny balcony. Strangely, another room’s window looked immediately out to the balcony. It seemed more of a token balcony than one that could be used for any significant purpose. The bedroom had a window over the headboard and overlooking the balcony and was flooded with natural light. The bed end table sported an ipod docking station/alarm clock (iHome). My biggest criticism about the room was the staggering lack of closet space. There is a very tiny closet that houses the safe and mini-bar. It has a little space for hanging clothes (a foot across?), but no room for suitcases. All suitcases had to be kept out and in the open. This seems like a major oversight. I hope other rooms have bigger closets than ours, but I suspect not. The sitting room and the bedroom had very large (50”?) flat panel televisions. Only the local stations were in HD and the remaining cable stations looked pretty grainy on the large televisions. Lorien should look into adding some additional HD channels. The bed was smashingly comfortable and almost put our own bed at home to shame. High marks! It was the best sleep my pregnant wife got in a long time. The towels were extremely soft and not starchy like so many hotel towels you run across. L’Occitane bath products.
Housekeeping: No complaints. Notably, they did not have evening turndown service which I think often separates a four star property from a five star property.
Room Service: We ordered breakfast one morning and it was absolutely delicious. The homemade jam was extraordinary. They did not wheel in a table/cart like many places so we had to essentially eat from a coffee table. We were okay with that, but some people may feel differently.
The Fitness Area: Excellent Lifetime Fitness cardio equipment. I believe there were two ellipticals, two treadmills and two stationary bikes. These were top of the line, brand new pieces of equipment that integrated flat screen (hd?) televisions. That’s where the compliments stop. There were no free weights. They had only one jack-of-all-trades weight machine that was well-built (and probably expensive) but remarkably complicated as it transformed into dozens of different positions. It would also be awkward if others were trying to work on this machine simultaneously. They should simply rename this area the “Cardio Area” because that is all that could be really accomplished in this room. The fitness area was small and rather cramped. There were two large bottles of water that were left there and some plastic cups in which to pour the water. No cold individual bottled waters (which is pretty standard at five star hotels). Also, as a swimmer I was disappointed they did not have a pool (but realize that they probably did not have space for such a luxury given the size of the footprint the Lorien sits on). As a suggestion, I think Lorien should include additional weights or weight equipment in the secondary room beyond the cardio equipment.
The Spa: I only walked by it. We had no time for treatments. It looked nice though.
The Restaurant: We went into Brabo to grab a drink after our dinner in Alexandria. There were a few people that were still sitting in the dining room. When we got to the bar area, it was very crowded and we could not locate a seat for our group. We asked the hostess at Brabo whether or not we could grab a drink and sit at one of the tables in the dining room. She did not know and went to ask someone else. She came back and said no. We were surprised. We were essentially turned away. I chalk this up to inexperience, but would hate to see this happen in the future.
The Service: Very friendly, very accommodating. Check in was simple and fast. All the front desk clerks were very affable. The valet and bellmen were very helpful and courteous. We did not use the concierge so we cannot comment. I booked at a rate which allowed me a $20/nt discount on meals. That discount was not reflected on my bill. It was promptly removed without hassle at the front desk.
Overall this is a wonderful 4 to 4.5 star property. Rating it as such, I give it 5 out of 5. If I were rating it as a five star property, I would give it less than a 5 out of 5. Lorien needs some work to reach the five star level (turndown service; better fitness area; telling us we can’t sit and enjoy a drink in an empty restaurant). Some say I might be too picky, but frankly the small details and extra polish is what separates the four star properties from the five star properties. With that said, I would definitely return to Lorien when staying in Northern Virginia. This is a very nice property off to an excellent start. Bravo, Kimpton. Enjoy!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Centrally located in Old Town Alexandria, our luxury boutique hotel is a collaborative dream. Renowned interior designer Vicente Wolf created a space that is reflective of the past and grounded in modern sensibilities. Combined with the stylish calm of our spa, our destination restaurant, BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier, a striking environment and the amenities expected of a Kimpton Hotel, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa unites the elegance of yesteryear with the comforts of modern-day living. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lorien Hotel Kimpton