Staying at MGM National Harbor
MGM National Harbor is the newest entertainment destination in the MGM Resorts family, and opened its doors overlooking the Potomac River in December of 2016. Visitors are greeted by a massive sculpture of MGM’s iconic Leo the Lion, which is just the first of many pieces or artwork located throughout the property. While located in Maryland, MGM National Harbor has clear views of Washington, DC, and due to building height restrictions in the city, it’s easy to spot the Capitol Dome and Washington Monument on the horizon.
MGM National Harbor is a massive structure, featuring 125,000 square feet of gaming, 50,000 square feet of convention facilities, 27,000 square feet of spa and salon, 18,000 square feet of high-end branded retail, a 3,000 seat theater, and more than 15 dining options. Oh, and did we mention there is also a 24 story hotel with more than 300 rooms? It truly is, Monumental. The building is also rated LEED Gold by the US Green Building Council, and the entire building (including casino) is thankfully non-smoking.
We were recently hosted for a weekend at MGM National Harbor, and there was so much to see that we split our coverage into two different articles. This feature focuses mostly on the hotel and staying at the property, while we have prepared a second feature that focuses on our dining experience. Keep in mind that we didn’t even do any gaming or shopping during our visit, and we think you’ll begin to appreciate the scope of MGM National Harbor, and just how much there is to see when you visit.
MGM National Harbor Conservatory
The 15,000 square foot conservatory is open 24-hours a day, and is essentially the lobby or atrium of the property. It is completely indoors with a brilliant glass roof and features massive seasonal displays contained in three large beds. However the decor isn’t limited to those three beds, as it also features elements suspended from the ceiling, lighting effects, and even music.
When we visited this summer, the Conservatory was decorated for “Summer on the Potomac” – a nautical / sailing theme that was combined with some tastes of Americana. Each evening, from 9 p.m. to midnight, light danced off 80 pounds of glass glitter imported from Germany, forging a spectacle that resembles a celebratory light show, similar to annual Fourth of July celebrations synonymous with the Capital Region.
Currently the Conservatory is decorated for Autumn, and we suspect Holiday decorations are soon to follow. The Conservatory is free to visit, and a return visit to each season (five variations per year) just to see what they do next.
Heritage Art Collection
The MGM National Harbor Heritage Collection is a permanent art collection featuring artwork inspired by the Capital Region’s rich history. We enjoyed exploring the property, and finding art and fresh flowers sprinkled throughout. A few of our favorites are featured in images below, but there is a guide available at the hotel lobby desk which currently lists 68 items in a growing collection.
Of particular note is Bob Dylan’s Portal gate leading into the Casino, Margaret Boozer’s soil constructed map of the region, and Alice Aycock’s Whirlpools which we featured at the top of this article. Between the Conservatory and the Heritage Collection, you could literally spend more than half a day just appreciating the MGM National Harbor as a gallery, and enjoying the beauty contained within.
Corner Suite in MGM National Harbor Hotel
The MGM National Harbor Hotel includes 234 guest rooms and 74 suites located in the 24 story glass tower. A quick check of their reservations page shows 12 different room options available. The top of the line Presidential and Chairman Suites look absolutely incredible, but we certainly enjoyed our 958 square foot Corner Suite with VIP check-in. Just look at these photos!
As you can see the suite was massive, and featured floor to ceiling windows in every room. There was more than enough seating to relax in either the bedroom or living room, with televisions located in both. The bathroom was simply spectacular, with its double sinks, double shower, and make-up vanity.
From our room we could see the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, Jefferson Memorial, Masonic Temple in Arlington, and nearby National Harbor. We could also see straight down into the Conservatory where the fireworks light show was going on during the evening. And yes, the photograph below is the sun setting over the Potomac River as captured from our room on the 11th floor.
While there is plenty of space to enjoy inside of MGM National Harbor, there is also an incredible amount of outdoor space as well. Behold the fountain on Potomac Plaza, a 171-foot oval-shaped pool that features white-water steps with cascading waters. As you can see, it also features 124 programmed vertical jets that shoot large-scale geometric shapes into the air that are lit by color changing LED lights. The fountain runs 24 hours per day, and while not as spectacular as the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, it can be set to music as well.
Potomac Plaza is also home to more artwork and flower gardens, along with an amazing screen which rotates between stunning scenic video and promotional messages for the property. From the Plaza you can see the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which we only pictured below to highlight how many roads there are nearby to help you get to MGM National Harbor. It really is in a convenient location. Also pictured below is a nearby Helipad, in case you’d like to bypass the traffic and arrive via Helicopter. Lastly we’ve shown how close MGM National Harbor is to the rest of the National Harbor development. While everything you need is on-site, it’s important to note that even more restaurants, entertainment, a Marina, Ferris Wheel, and additional convention facilities are located just a short shuttle bus ride away.
While we didn’t use it ourselves, there is a private pool for hotel guests located on the 2nd floor. Even if you don’t want to take a dip, there is plenty of seating available and it seems like a quiet place to take a break from the action.
The Theater at MGM National Harbor
Lastly we’d like to highlight the Theater at MGM National Harbor, which we’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice now. Our first visit was to see Boys II Men, and on this second visit we saw Journey in concert. It’s an intimate space, seating 3,000, which is absolutely perfect for experiencing your favorite artists. It was purpose-built with state of the art sound, video, and lighting. These cell-phone photos obviously don’t do it justice, but we much prefer seeing a concert here over the typical arena experience.
Dining at MGM National Harbor
Please see our accompanying feature, Dining at MGM National Harbor, for some mouth water photographs of everything we ate on our visit.
Additionally, Philip has served as Rally Director for the Washington Automotive Press Association, Speaker at IMPAcon and Blogs with Balls, Chairman of the Relay For Life of North Anne Arundel County, Examiner Team Leader for the Maryland Performance Excellence Awards, and Credentialed Founder of Capitals Outsider.