If one is seeking a hip and trendy place to lay one’s head down in Washington DC, Eaton Workshop is such place. I was in Washington DC just two months ago last June for a week-long work trip. I stayed at Eaton Workshop for 5 days before I moved to another hotel. I did not really know what to expect when I reserved my room at Eaton. It was a busy week for Washington DC’s hotel business when I was there that I had slim pickings in terms of accommodations which lead me to transfer hotels during my visit.
Eaton Workshop’s website describes the hotel platform as:
Eaton Workshop is a global purpose-driven company and creative lab at the intersection of culture, media, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social change. Founded by Katherine Lo, whose background in activism and filmmaking fuels her vision of a new inclusive gathering place for changemakers and creatives, Eaton consists of distinct parts—Hotel, House, Media, Wellness, and Impact. Collectively, the pillars serve as an incubator for arts and culture, a beacon for sustainability, a hub for impact initiatives, a holistic healing center, and a global media presence. Building a community with a shared ethos of caring for today’s world and conceiving of how we can make it better, Eaton forms connections through its physical spaces, as well as through dynamic digital storytelling and experiences.
Please forgive me if I cannot help but roll my eyes and silently mutter “blah, blah, blah.” Being my life’s work as dedicated to social justice where every day my colleagues and I fight for the rights of the impoverished and look poverty straight in the face on a day to day basis, I have a difficult time when consumerism crosses over to real issues — because the fight is real. The people I interact with are real people who live in crack-infested hotels, starve and stare violence in the face everyday.
Staying at a place where a regular burger with tater tots set me back $40 (granted it was in-room delivery with a generous tip for the server), and a latte with pastry cost me about $10 every time, it was just a hard buy-in for me. It was ironic as I was eating my $40 burger while staring at the strategically placed hotel’s “hand-picked selection of radical and rare books” on my shelf, 10 Myths About World Hunger. (How about putting a coffee maker in my room so I did not have to shell out $10 every morning for coffee and pastry?) It is very rare to find spendy hotels without an in-room coffee maker.
As I have stated, please forgive me because I really do not concretely know what the hotel is doing to make a positively contribution to the betterment of the world. I am sure it does and the intention is in the right place. And I get the corporate hospitality business gimmick. I just cannot stand the romanticizing and glamorizing of social issues in the main stream society. I find it too pretentious and exploitative. I also cannot help but pass judgment towards guests and some staff who presented with a gait of self-righteousness masked as coolness and hipness.
As for the hotel itself, the public space is pleasant, open and decorated provocatively (as the website also states). I am not a fan of black and white photos of people I do not know which I found scary and somehow elicited sad and unsettling feelings. There were those photos in my room as well. (I showed this photo to Mr Sweetie who asked, “are those prison mugshots?”) Exactly my point!
There is an in-house restaurant, American Son, that seems to be celebrated in DC’s culinary world. I had lunch here and I truly enjoyed both the venue and food. The in-house cafe, Kintsugi, was lovely, the coffee was inconsistent and the one rude barista ruined my experience as a guest. (I will post separate reviews later.)
There was also a beautiful rooftop bar where I only took a peak as it was always packed. There were yoga and meditation classes for a fee.
As I have been traveling for work these last few years and have stayed at different hotels both chain and boutique, my bedroom at the Eaton was my least favorite. The stay was fairly comfortable enough although the room was stuffy. I did not find it cozy as the hotel advertised. I am not a fan of the Southwest and retro decors (and those creepy black and white photos of people!). I thought that my room was unattractive. The turntable was fun and I got to enjoy listening to jazz one time until it stopped working once I tried to use it again. I did not bother to let the staff know to have it fixed.
The bathroom was lovely with nice, relaxing toiletries. No complaints and I really like it. The boxed wines in the fridge were nice and I appreciated that they are available for purchase at the end of a long tiring day.
I am being harsh on Eaton Workshop. Mine is just one opinion. It was not a bad stay, just not a relaxing one because of its “provocative and radical” theme . Maybe if I had been in a different trade (and less of a cynical person), I would have appreciated it. The hotel staff were truly nice and welcoming. Taking everything into consideration, I am still glad for the unique experience of calling it my home base in Washington DC for 5 days. Location-wise, it was close enough to the sights but not as close as I would have chosen. The National Mall and museums were less than a hour away on foot but few minutes by Lyft/Uber.