Washington DC is a city which exudes diversity and inclusion at every turn. It’s clear from the exhibitions in its museums, which highlight the fight for equality for women and for people of colour, to the fabulous Hotel Zena where I was based for my stay. Hotel Zena is perhaps my favourite hotel of all time. Why? Because this hotel’s messaging immerses guests in a world of inclusion through relatable and quirky art that packs a punch in a fun way. Just take a look at the ode to high heels that makes up the reception desk in the photo below. The best bit about Hotel Zena is that it is wheelchair accessible and located in Logan Circle, at the beginning of Washington DC’s vibrant 14th corridor, an area of the city which makes for easy wheeling to the National Mall. The White House is only a couple of blocks away so you’re in good neighbourhood!
Hotel Zena – accessible accommodation Washington DC
In my travels I’ve had the opportunity to review many hotels. Often it feels like the same experience in a different city. In other words, there’s nothing that sets one hotel apart from another. That’s fine if you are just looking for somewhere to lay your head for the night but when I travel I like unique stays. I love nothing more than to be wowed by an element of a stay, whether that’s accessibility features, service or decor. It’s even better if it’s all three. Prior to my arrival in Washington DC I checked out Hotel Zena’s website to see if there was any information about accessibility and I was immediately impressed with the detailed information I found. I felt like Hotel Zena had rolled out the welcome mat to all with its access and inclusion and I hadn’t even set foot in the hotel.
During my time at Hotel Zena I stayed in a suite but as always I was keen to review an accessible room so I could share all the details with our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community. I’ll share images and information on my gorgeous suite at the end of this review for anyone who doesn’t need a fully accessible room and would like a bit more space to spread out.
Walking into the accessible room I was happy to see that the design elements and signature pink hue present throughout the hotel continued in the guest rooms. Accessible features include a double-peep hole (one lowered), a doorbell, a visual alarm and lowered air conditioning control and light switches.
Entry door facts – 90cm clearance.
Non-carpeted flooring within the accessible room and sufficient space for transferring on either side of the bed makes for easy circulation for wheelchair users. A small bar fridge in the room is handy for snacks or for storing medication which needs to remain refrigerated. Chromecast on the television allows guests to cast their favourite shows to the tv.
Bedroom facts – Bed height 65cm and clearance under the bed 16cm.
Hotel Zena accessible bathroom
A wide sliding door provides good access to the bathroom which has a good layout.
The bathroom offers grab rails throughout, room under the wash basin for a wheelchair user, a lowered magnifying mirror, step-free shower with shower bench and height adjustable shower head.
Towel rails, light switches and all amenities are at a lowered level.
The hanging rail in the wardrobe is not lowered.
Bathroom facts – Bathroom door clearance 85cm, shower bench height 45cm, toilet height to pan 43cm and toilet height to seat 47cm.
Take a video tour of the accessible room I inspected at Hotel Zena.
Hotel Zena – accessible facilities
Hotel Zena offers step-free access from the street. Entry is via either a revolving hotel door or a standard door, which would be heavy to open except for the friendly valet staff who have the door open before guests even have time to lift a hand to reach for it.
After a day of sightseeing the rooftop pool is the perfect place to relax. Lift and ramp access are available to the rooftop and a pool seat is available to assist with transferring into the pool.
In the evening the rooftop transforms into a cosy place to enjoy sunset views over the city while sipping on a cocktail from Hedy’s bar.
After swimming laps or soaking up the sun, Figleaf Bar and Lounge is ready with a menu to help guests refuel and with artwork that will entertain and engage. Hotel Zena prides itself on being a property that is part gallery and part hotel and many of the artworks celebrate the contributions and courage of women.
Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, the late Supreme Court Judge who was a beacon for equality, looms large in Figleaf Bar and Lounge. The mural is made from almost 20,000 hand-painted organic tampons and was designed as a tribute to Bader-Ginsburg’s strength and unrelenting commitment to gender equality. People who are not staying in the hotel have a drink in the bar just to see the art in the hotel. I met two ladies while waiting in a museum queue who were so excited to hear I was staying at Hotel Zena because they’d had dinner at the hotel just to see the Ruth Bader-Ginsburg artwork.
A wall covered in 12,000 protest buttons serves as a reminder of the many battles that have been fought for gender equality and the many unresolved issues women face daily.
I wouldn’t mind popping a couple of the buttons on to remind people I meet on a daily basis to be a bit more open minded and kind.
The hotel’s Zen Shed is where you head for any additional entertainment during your stay including gaming consoles, board games and anything you need to help you capture your memories of Washington DC. GoPros, digital camera accessories and polaroid-style cameras are all available to hire. Hotel Zena has really thought of everything.
The Zen Shed also sells Sudara clothing which supports women overseas who are at a high risk, or are survivors, of human trafficking with fair pay for their beautiful creations. Sadly the hotel was out of my size in the lovely lounge pants I wanted otherwise I’d have come home with a souvenir which helps make a difference.
Hotel Zena suite accommodation
My little home away from home was a spacious suite with everything I could possibly need for a comfortable stay. It’s always tempting to stay put when a room is so comfy but Washington DC had too many attractions to do that. It was a fabulous spot to come back to at the end of each day’s explorations and the bed was just right.
The suite accommodation at Hotel Zena offers floor to ceiling windows, two bathrooms, a lounge room with television and separate bedroom (also with television) with a king-size bed.
Everything about the suite is spacious.
The main bathroom adjoins the bedroom and has a circular shower with a small step up.
Hotel Zena has a CVS Pharmacy opposite which is great for stocking up on snacks and everyday groceries. Planet Word, one of my favourite attractions in Washington DC is about a block away, the White House Visitors Centre is a couple of blocks away, Macy’s and the National Mall are all within a half hour walk or wheel of the hotel. A Metro station is also nearby.
If you are visiting Washington DC and looking for a hotel which isn’t a carbon copy of every hotel chain, then Hotel Zena won’t disappoint.
You can read more about the accessible features on the hotel’s website.