In February of 2012, Intercontinental Hotel Group, IHG, announced a new brand called Even. According to its website, EVEN™ Hotels is the first hotel brand designed for business and leisure travellers who maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and are looking for a complete wellness experience at a mainstream price point.
To date, there are only two Even Hotel locations. One in Norwalk, CT and one in Rockville, MD, the one I visited. I choose to stay at the Even Hotel solely based on location first and price second. The hotel, which was converted from a Holiday Inn Express, was completely demolished and rebuilt before it opened in July of 2014 as Even.
The hotel is very modern and well designed. I had originally booked a Sunday – Thursday stay, but due to weather, was delayed and didn’t arrive until Monday. I called the hotel and spoke to whomever answered the phone, she was pleasant and happily changed my reservation for Monday check-in, without any fees.
When I arrived at the hotel the lobby was buzzing. The staff is dressed kakis and polo shirts, they looked like they might work in a gym, and were all friendly and welcoming. There weren’t enough people, or computers, to check everyone in efficiently. I had about a 15 minute wait because the people in front of me had some kind of issue with their reservation. The manager apologized several times for the delay, but wasn’t able to move things along or help anyone else check-in. I think self check-in kiosks would work wonderfully at this hotel. Once I did get to the front of the line, the check-in process was easy.
The key card cover really sets the tone for the entire experience. It says “oddly enough all rooms are even.” The hotel is quirky, perhaps even a bit kitschy at times.
The lobby hosts a Cork & Kale bar and restaurant with grab and go and food made to order options. Some of the grab and go items were priced reasonably while other items were excessively priced for a mid-level hotel. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a pretty limited menu. I paid $28 for an iced tea and kale salad with grilled chicken and while I thought the salad was okay, the grilled chicken was dry and tough. The one redeeming element of the salad was the quinoa, which was very good.
The lobby also hosts a guest lounge with plenty of seating, TVs, a business center and free wifi. On the opposite side of registration is a very large and bright gym. The 1200 sq ft gym “Best-in-has three sections. One for cardio, one for weights, and mat/floor exercise. In addition, there is a separate Flex Room for instructor-led classes. A schedule of classes is posted in several locations in the hotel.
The hotel rooms are large and well designed. There is more than ample lighting in the room and plenty of electrical outlets – everywhere! There is a stand-up desk that folds down from the wall, creating a lot of extra space between the desk/wall and the bed. There is a small fridge and complete black-out shades on the window. The TV swivels so that it can be seen from almost everywhere in the room and features dozens of workout routines on demand. Also included in the room is a balance ball, yoga mat and other workout equipment. The best item in the room perhaps? The jar of Clorox Wipes!
My room had a king-sized bed and it was surpassingly comfortable. It featured an angled headboard which is meant to support your back while sitting in bed and working and the lines were some of the best hotel linen I’ve ever slept on – perhaps that’s because it’s all brand new and hasn’t been washed 9 million times, but I also think it probably had a high thread-count than the average hotel linen. One of the quirky aspects of the hotel is the mood lighting next to the bed.
The bathroom was large and had a walk-in shower with wall-mounted amenity dispensers featuring EO bath products. There were two types with bath gel each with a different scent, a shampoo and a separate conditioner. There was EO hand lotion next to the sink. There was very good water pressure in the shower. Above all else, the hotel is extremely clean and is excellent condition.
For the room, I paid $113/night compared to the Hilton Hotel almost directly across the street that was priced at $257/night and about 1 mile from the Marriott that was $389/night. The closest Starwood hotel is about 30 minutes away, and could take as long as an hour to get to in traffic, making the Even hotel is a great alternative. There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel as well.
Even though I experienced a challenges with check-in and check-out, overall the hotel is great and I will stay again when in Rockville. I suspect that as the staff settles in they’ll work out the small kinks. I wouldn’t choose to eat at the hotel again, but it was great to have a bar where you can sit with friends/colleagues and enjoy a drink. Personally, I’d eat outside the hotel in the future, but it’s very convenient to run downstairs to get an iced-tea, smoothly or freshly squeezed juice.
This is a great concept hotel for IHG and while only two are open today, there are several others slated to open in 2015 and they are looking to further expand the brand. If they can keep the hotel is good condition, I think they’ll be very successful and will keep me as a customer.