Bed Check: Adam's Inn: a basic, low-priced bed-and-breakfast in the middle of Washington

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 27, 2010; F06

When I got back to Adam's Inn after a recent night out, I came upon a man drinking beer and eating pizza in the living room.

That's the kind of place this bed-and-breakfast in Washington's Adams Morgan neighborhood is: more group house than B&B.

I was intrigued by the idea of spending a night in a bed-and-breakfast in the middle of the city. Most of the B&Bs I've stayed in have been on charming streets in quaint little towns. But here, turn the corner and you'll find nightclubs, restaurants and bars that get rowdy on the weekend. Still, with its tree-lined streets and Victorian houses, Adams Morgan does have charm.

But I wouldn't call the inn, which consists of 26 rooms in three adjacent Victorians, charming. Yes, there are nice touches, such as cookies set out on a tray outside the main office, along with a basket of Peppermint Patties (one of my favorite sweets!). And there's a front porch where guests can sit and people-watch. But there's also a pay phone, which seems more hostel than B&B. And the employee who checked me in, though friendly, didn't exude the same warmth that a B&B owner welcoming a guest usually does.

Still, she ably showed me around the house. The living room is stocked with newspapers, books, magazines and a TV set. The main dining room holds one large table and another smaller one. Another room with a table handles the breakfast overflow. And there's an outside patio and a well-groomed back yard with a fountain.

Back inside, the clerk handed me my key and pointed upstairs. My room was in the main house, on the second floor facing the street, right across from a fire station. (Terrific, I thought.)

Adam's Inn bills itself as an affordable alternative to most D.C. hotels and, sure enough, for about $150, I'd gotten a room with a queen-size bed and two twins, big enough to fit a family. I could have gotten an even cheaper room if I'd been willing to share a bathroom, but I'd sprung for a private one.

The room, however, was as basic as you can get. The linens on all three beds were white, which made me feel as though I'd checked into a hospital. There was no TV. And no shampoo or conditioner; a sign on the bathroom mirror informed me that I'd have to request them from the main office. (I could also request a hair dryer, a razor, toothpaste, shaving cream and nail polish.)

After dinner, I took a walk through the house next door. It, too, had a living room with a TV. There was also a kitchen, where guests could leave food and drinks. The fridge was full of items marked with people's names, just like my group house in college.

The next morning, breakfast in the dining room of the main house was spread out on a long banquet table against a wall. Once again, it was as basic as you can get, but more than sufficient: cereal, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, bagels, English muffins and toast. Pitchers of orange juice stood on the tables. As I contemplated my options, a woman wrapped in a towel walked out of a bathroom between the main dining room and the auxiliary dining area. So glad I'd opted for the private bathroom.

It was 7 a.m., and only a handful of people were up. Some were speaking another language. (I was told that the inn attracts lots of foreigners.) An elderly couple took the table by the window. Everybody kept to themselves.

I grabbed the newspaper and went outside to the patio, where a woman was sitting on the steps having coffee. Her eyes were closed and she had her face turned to the sun. "It's so lovely here, isn't it?" she asked me.

I closed my eyes and also pointed my face toward the sun. Yes, it was lovely. So who needed charming?

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