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    Courtyard Washington, DC
    I was in D.C. to take part in Courtyard by Marriott's Behind-The-Bistro Experience (more on that in a minute). They put us up at the Courtyard Washington, D.C./U.S. Capitol (website). When I pulled up to the hotel at 10 p.m. I was disappointed to learn it wasn't in the heart of the city. It's one metro stop from Union Station and a few from downtown. I guess I should've Google mapped it, but I didn't. The good news is there's a brand-new metro stop just a hundred yards from the entrance of the hotel. My driver told me this is a new, up-and-coming area, so I shouldn't go wandering off in the wrong direction at night. It did seem a little sketchy on the outskirts, but once I got inside the eight-floor, 218-room hotel I felt completely safe.

    When you enter the hotel there is a friendly security guard on the ground floor. He directed me to the new state-of-the-art lobby on the second floor, which is the only floor one can access without a room key. After checking in I was bummed to learn that the hotel's Bistro closed at 10 p.m., so I just missed getting dinner. I didn't want to walk a couple blocks to the nearby Wendy's, McDonald's, Pot Belly, and others, or order takeout from one of the nearby restaurants that deliver (the front desk has a book of takeout menus). Instead I hit the Marriott Market, which is behind check-in and is basically a 7Eleven convenience store on a much smaller scale. I grabbed a bottle of water ($2) and a nasty Hot Pocket Spicy Chicken Burrito ($4) and heated it in the Market Place's microwave. FYI: There is a 7Eleven downstairs.

    What's nice about Courtyard is that most of them have remodeled their lobbies, making them inviting for guests to hang out in. It really is a nice relaxing environment, and there's free Wi-Fi throughout the lobby (and hotel). There's also a GoBoard, which is a monster LCD touch screen that has easy access to the latest news, weather, and airport conditions. In addition there are two free computers (30-minute time limit if people are waiting) and a "boarding pass computer" to... print your boarding pass (duh).


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