AC Hotel Brings European Flair to National Harbor

AC Hotel National Harbor, Marriott
A wide-open common area merges the lobby, front desk and bar into one.

Croissants flown in daily from France; red wine on tap; a sleek, new iMac for guests to use. When it comes to vibe, the AC Hotel National Harbor, just outside Washington, D.C., definitely has it.

AC is Marriott’s entry into the lifestyle hotel sector targeting Millennials. What differentiates it from other brands is its European roots: AC was founded in Spain in 1998 by Antonio Catalan, and now has 80 hotels there. This carries right into breakfast, for example—a spread of cured meats, sweet and savory tarts, and strong coffee.

The design of the common area—a wide-open space that merges the lobby, front desk and bar into one—is fresh, contemporary and inviting. A fireplace that almost feels as if it’s levitating, cozy seating and art books scattered about on coffee tables and shelves lend the area the feeling of a living room. Catering to the younger guest who might not be interested in traditional room service, the hotel has a nook with creative foods and snacks, even wine, for sale. Of course, WiFi is strong throughout—and free.

The 192 rooms, including 6 suites, are light and airy, with blanched wood flooring, crisp white down bedding, ample charging outlets right on the headboard and stylish bathroom amenities. For meetings, there’s 3,700 sf of space in three rooms, and a private event courtyard off the common area with a distinctly urban feel.

The hotel plays homage to its nautical roots with touches such as ceramic seals and wall art created from rope. It couldn’t get any closer to the water, and many rooms overlook the Potomac River. National Harbor, the site of the Gaylord National Convention Center (which became a Marriott property in 2013), is a new mixed-use community, with dozens of shops and restaurants, outdoor sculptures, a boardwalk and a central performance pavilion. It’s an ideal self-contained spot for convention guests, with plenty of options to explore in their free time. Anchoring it all is the 150-ft Capital Wheel, which lights up in vibrant hues at sunset, beckoning visitors to give it a whirl.


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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.