Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor MD

Exterior of Gaylord National Harbor MD

Anyone who’s been to Opryland Hotel in Nashville TN will recognize Gaylord’s signature architectural element; multiple acres under glass, enclosing burbling brooks, secondary buildings, stone pathways, water features and interior gardens. Though about 2/3rds the size of Opryland (in number of rooms), the 1,996 room Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor MD, is the tallest of the Gaylord Hotels (19 stories), featuring the largest (1.5 acre) single atrium.

View From room, Gaylord National Harbor, MD

The pure scope of it can be overwhelming, but Gaylord knows how to bring things down to the personal. Check-in (at one of a multitude of desks) is like clockwork, and, though the reception section of the hotel is a bit humdrum aesthetically, the service is quick and friendly. Just know that in short order, you’ll be impressed by that stunner atrium and views out to the Potomac River.

Atrium, Gaylord National Harbor MD

Interior designers incorporated nautical elements (referencing the Potomac) and nods to downtown DC, with Georgetown style brick buildings housing gift shops and eateries. There’s a nightly Fountain Show, and in the popular Christmas season, a profusion of lights and indoor snowfall, which gives guests the fantastical impression of being inside a humongous snow globe.

Rooms at Gaylord National Resort

Room, Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, MD

Guestrooms are elegantly traditional. Crisp white duvets, gray and white striped wallpaper, sand-hued carpeting, and local photos as art leave the drama for the spectacle outside the window, especially if you request a room overlooking the enclosed atrium. Vertiginous from higher floors, it’s a perfect perch from which to watch the activity below.

Dining at Gaylord National Resort

National Pastime Sports Bar, Gaylord National Resort

Though there’s a selection of casual eateries at Gaylord National Resort (Pienza Marketplace, National Pastime Bar and Grill), Getaway Mavens readers will want to experience at least one of the two upscale restaurants.

Capital Wheel at night, National Harbor MD

The Belvedere Lobby Bar, overlooking the atrium’s ground floor, is actually a Sushi Bar, and it’s thrilling to watch the Fountain Show each evening on the hour between 6pm-8pm, the lit up Capital Wheel, and beautiful sunsets while munching on Spicy Tuna Rolls and other raw fish delights.

Old Hickory Steakhouse, Gaylord National Harbor Hotel MD

But for the best meal in National Harbor, book a special dinner at Old Hickory Steakhouse, and be prepared to settle in for a few hours in a room imbued with Southern charm. The restaurant is named after Andrew Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory,” who was known for throwing parties, featuring big wheels of cheese, in the White House.

Cheese Diva at Old Hickory Steakhouse, Gaylord National Harbor MD

Your meal begins with a selection of artisanal cheese, in fact, carted to the table by the Maitre D’Fromage, aka “The Cheese Diva,” who helps you choose several to enjoy either before or after the main course. Crusty breads are divine, and steaks ($40-$52), of course, are phenomenal, but so are other dishes. Though located in a large resort hotel, Old Hickory Steakhouse is destination dining at its best.

Amenities at Gaylord National Resort

Gaylord National Harbor Conference Center Hallway

The massive Conference Center wing of the hotel – a whopping half a million square feet of meeting space – includes a main hallway so long, you can lay the Washington Monument (555 ft.) on its side and still have a few feet of corridor left.

Pool at Gaylord National Harbor, MD

A state of the art Fitness Center contains every single cutting edge machine you’d ever need, and the near-Olympic-sized indoor pool is a favorite with kids and lap-swimmers.

Gaylord National Harbor from Marina

Outside on the Potomac Riverfront, local Water Taxis stop at Gaylord National Resort’s private dock to take guests to and from Old Town Alexandria (just across the River), Georgetown, Mount Vernon, and even the Nationals Ballpark.

Relache Spa at Gaylord National Harbor, MD

But most impressive is the in-house Relache Spa – one of the largest full-service spas in Metro DC area with 20,000 sq ft of space featuring 11 treatment rooms, a Riverview Relaxation Room, and a Hair and Nail Salon.  I can attest to the elegance of the décor, warm reception, and quality of treatments, having had one of the signatures – a 50-minute exfoliating/moisturizing wrap ($150). I met out of town patrons who drive considerable distance to get here, so hotel guests are lucky that Relache is a mere elevator-ride away.

Just the Facts

Rooms rates from $125 per night, with multiple packages for families and adults available. Check website as they change seasonally. 

You’ll find more to do in National Harbor MD in THIS Getaway Mavens post.

In Category: Food & Drink, Girlfriend Getaways, Hotels, Maryland, Spa Getaways, Wedding Venues

Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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