It might be important to know that the Rock & Roll Hotel isn’t really a hotel. If you think you’re staying there for the night, you are sadly mistaken. Yes, the name says hotel, but this venue in Northeast Washington DC is not somewhere you would like to lodge for the evening.
The Rock & Roll Hotel is a very retro type of venue. Decorated with old-school posters, pictures, furniture, and the like, it’s the kind of place that just looks haunted. As you walk in, you have two choices of what to do. You can either go inside the concert hall itself, or go upstairs to the bar/dining area.
The hall itself is small, only holding about 400-500 people, which means you’re not going to see any huge acts performing here. The bigger acts typically hit up the 9:30 Club or the Black Cat. However, the Hotel can hold its own. The plus side of that is, if you’re really into the band, you’re able to get an incredibly intimate show. It’s a general admission floor, so it’s up to you how close you would like to get. But, considering how small the joint is, you won’t have a hard time seeing the band from anywhere in the room.
In the past, and more recently, the Hotel has hosted the likes of Hot Hot Heat, Ludo, Phoenix, Meat Puppets, White Rabbits, Matt & Kim, The Ataris, and so many other talented acts. As you can tell from the list, it’s a prime stop for bands on the rise, or for ones that have already hit their peak and are on their way back down. But, it’s not just a rock venue, either. Hip hop and electronic acts make their way through the doors, as well. DJ night is also a huge draw, as the DJ’s will usually spin 90’s hits and today’s jams.
The intimacy of the venue is its biggest strength. In most venues of this size, you may feel constricted, but at the Rock & Roll Hotel, it’s really easy to get to the front of the stage and with comfort. What’s nice is that some bands will even hang around afterwards and sign merchandise and socialize. Also, because the room is so confined, the sound just bounces off the walls, increasing the good vibes that keep a crowd going. While far from an elite venue, sometimes the best shows are those that aren’t overdone with production.
There’s also a full bar and dining area. This is a great place to go before and after the show. Their themed rooms are also available for parties. But, if there aren’t any parties booked for the night, you can hang out in them, allowing you to actually have a conversation. These rooms are the whole reason the place is called the Rock & Roll Hotel, so they are definitely worth seeing. Prices for drinks are priced relatively nice, but be sure to check for drink specials, because the bartenders might not always tell you. Oddly enough, though, the bar itself exudes a bit of a club-type atmosphere – even during a rock show. In other words, there will be some people there for a show and some just hanging at the bar. As a result, it can make for an interesting group of people mixing together when the show’s over, but that’s DC for you: always unconventional.
Rock & Roll Hotel
1353 H St
Washington, DC 20002
To get a complete listing of the upcoming shows, click here.