Archives Hotels

Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa: Review

Kimpton Lorient Hotel & Spa Lobby
Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa lobby

Years ago, when it first opened, I stayed at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, VA. I wasn’t a fan, so I approached a recent visit with some trepidation. Not to worry! As the hotel has come into its own, everything about it has improved to become one of the better lodging options in Old Town Alexandria.

Décor: Contemporary mixed with historic accents

Favorite in-hotel experience: Happy Hour at Brabo

Location Advantage: Quiet end of King St.

Location Disadvantage: Somewhat shabby block.

Most distinctive public area: The courtyard you walk through to get to the entrance.

The Property

Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa courtyard
Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa courtyard

The Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa mixes contemporary décor with accents of Georgian architecture. For example, the property is set back in a traditional courtyard, with brick pavers underfoot and an old-fashioned clock in the center. The hotel nods toward historic Alexandria while still emphasizing contemporary clean lines and colors.

Public area in the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa

The public areas of the Kimpton Lorien are open and inviting. Because the hotel, like all Kimptons, offers a free wine hour starting at 5 pm, it has a large sitting room area adjacent to the lobby to accommodate guests. You can sit and read, or meet with friends, or chat with other guests. Brabo, the hotel’s restaurant, offers meals and an excellent Happy Hour.

The Room

King room at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa
King room at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa

Our king room was clean and modern, mostly white but with green/blue Rorschach blots on the wall above the bed. It had a large screen Samsung TV, a huge and wide mirror for checking dress from head to foot, and a long desk with mini bar fridge and storage.

For those like me who travel with tons of electronic devices, the room had plenty of open outlets. I especially appreciated that outlets, plus USB ports, on both sides of the bed.

The bathroom had a tiled shower with clear glass shower door. The Kimpton no longer uses individual bottles of shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner. Instead, you’ll find huge refillable dispensers of them, something I hate. Those dispensers make me feel as though I’m in a cheap hotel. Likewise, the small, rough, and thin bath towels didn’t match the hotel’s image.

The Staff

The desk clerks must be on the lookout for returning guests because they seemed to open the doors remotely when we approached them. Every employee we interacted with met us with a smile and complete attention. Housekeeping was thorough, resulting in a clean, fresh room every day.

The Location

The Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa sits on the far end King Street, close to the Alexandria Metro station and about a mile from Waterfront Park. Because of its location, it tends to be less touristy and therefore more quiet than other Old Town hotels. That said, everything is still within walkable distance: the historic sites, the restaurants, and the stores.

The Verdict

I would stay again at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa without hesitation. Because I’m a walker, I didn’t mind the distance to the waterfront. Besides, most things in Old Town Alexandria were much closer.

For nearby dining options, see my post Dining in Old Town Alexandria.

Debbie Lee Wesselmann

Archives Restaurants

Dining in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Fresh bread and house-made butter at Vermillion
Fresh Bread and House-made Butter at Vermillion

Two and a half days in Alexandria, Virginia? For me, that’s about perfect, especially when it comes to dining in Old Town. Since the DC metro stops right at the end of King St., you can easily combine visits to both Alexandria and Washington. Below I’ve reviewed some of my favorite restaurants in Alexandria, VA. The historic section may be small, but it has plenty of dining options. We stayed at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, and everything below was within walking distance.


My favorite meal, hands down, was at Vermillion, a small, cozy restaurant on King Street. You won’t find white tablecloths here, although the food certainly deserves them. The chef creates dishes that sound simple but are really a complex melding of flavors and textures. Even the butter is house-made.

The menu changes with the season, so you can’t expect everything to be the same; however, you just know from the first bite that you can’t go wrong with anything.

Cocktails are excellent, and they have a wide selection of draft beer. The wine list is limited.

Recommended: roasted Wellfleet oysters; anchovy toasts (two tiny pieces); prime New York strip steak; Skuna Bay Salmon; Marcona almond tart.

Hank’s Oyster Bar

Hank's Oyster Bar
Window seat at Hank’s Oyster Bar

We lunched at Hank’s Oyster Bar, also on King St. and my second favorite dining experience in Alexandria. The restaurant has a typical long, dark bar in one room and a small, bright dining room in the other. You can eat in either room.This casual restaurant has a large selection of oysters — 7, the day I ate there — so of course we had to start with oysters on the half shell. (My favorites were Glacier Point and Salty Wolf. )

Neither one of us could resist the Maine lobster roll with Old Bay-seasoned fries. Yum! Stuffed with sweet Maine lobster meat, easy on the mayo, they were worth every penny.

Lobster roll at Hank's Oyster Bar
Lobster roll at Hank’s Oyster Bar

In a distinctive touch, Hank’s serves a small bowl of chocolate chunks when the bill arrives.

Recommended: oysters any way you like them; Maine lobster roll.


We stayed at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa on King St. Their brasserie, Brabo, is a hopping place. For convenience, we ate there twice, for Happy Hour and for dinner before we left for home. We thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the drinks. My husband was a huge fan of Le Burger, a hamburger topped with gruyere, black truffle aoili, and pickles. The only dish I wasn’t wild about was the roasted cauliflower with capers. The flavors just didn’t meld.

Recommended: mussels mariniere; cheese and charcuterie board; Bartlett pear and goat cheese salad; Le Burger.

The Wharf

Sidewalk seating at The Wharf
Sidewalk seating at The Wharf

After a full morning and early afternoon of sightseeing, I turned once again to King St., this time closer to the waterfront. I had wanted to try The Warehouse because of its excellent reviews; however, the day was so gorgeous that I couldn’t bring myself to enter the darkened interior. Instead, I opted for The Wharf and its sidewalk seating area. (They also serve inside, in a dark and clubby space.)

I ordered a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and a crab cake. The food and service were competent, good without being excellent. Of course, what I really wanted was to enjoy the day, and The Wharf gave me that.

Recommended: Sidewalk seating for lunch.

Crabcake at The Wharf
Crabcake at The Wharf


One of my favorite restaurants from past visits to Alexandria was Bastille. I had high expectations, and I was disappointed. The restaurant has located to a more traditional building that makes it feel somewhat staid and like any other French restaurant. Gone are the exciting, modern vibes of a farm-to-table restaurant.

The chef offers a Monday pris fixe bistro menu of three courses for only $29. They also offer $29 bottles of wine. Both are great deals. Still, the waiter actually asked me how I would like my duck confit cooked. (Duck confit is a dish slow-cooked in fat to preserve it.) The dishes were flavorful and artfully plated, but all far too salty, as if prepared by a smoker.

Recommended (if you don’t mind salty food): duck confit with roasted pear, greens, and potato chunks; filet of beef with fries; arugula salad with salmon rillette, radishes, and cucumber

Debbie Lee Wesselmann