20005 Travel Guide
File under: "Giddyup Glam."
It’s (almost) the Fourth of July. Cue the fireworks, grilled meats, and mental images of lassoing cowboys riding through the regal grasslands. Why? Because MURRICA.
But before our nation’s capital heralds the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air, it will celebrate the July 3 opening of a steakhouse that gets its inspiration from South America: Rural Society, opening tomorrow at the Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, DC. It’s the latest from James Beard Award winner and “Iron Chef” Jose Garces, who has launched about a dozen restaurants across the country.
Before and After / Hotel Renovations / Washington DC Hotels / DC Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / → All Tags
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
Above is how the Donovan House looked at the height of its Thompson times. Pretty standard, but still rico suave. Now, click below to see what the rooms look like today after a multi-million dollar renovation of all rooms and suites.
You know what celebrities are like at hotels. They check in under stupid names. They make ridiculous requests. They draw attention to themselves doing stuff like riding a motorcycle down the hallway.
And they do all that even when they’re a celebrity dog, as they found out at the Loews Madison Hotel in DC last week.
Norman the Scooter Dog (real name: Norman) checked in last week, rolling up to the lobby on his scooter (superb video here), possibly in homage to Led Zeppelin riding a motorbike through the corridors of the Riot Hyatt back in the day.
Political Hotels / POTUS Hotels / Hotel Packages / Washington D.C. Hotels / Presidential Suites / Barack Obama / Sweet Suites / → All Tags
Next week, as the world watches President Obama during the US Presidential Inauguration, eyes will be on you, too if you book The Madison Hotel’s "Inaugural Town and Country Package". Why, you may ask? Well as part of this $47K five-night extravaganza, you get your very own Social Media Butler. That’s right--someone will post your comings-and-goings during the inauguration festivities in real-time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. So if you’ve ever fantasized about being a celebrity for a day (or five in this case), this is your chance.
As part of the package you get four nights in one of The Madison’s Presidential Suites (sweet!), a private presidential inauguration tour for you and 22 of your closest friends (with you in person, that is – you can have hundreds visit virtually), a $5,000 shopping spree at Brooks Brothers, and a personal car and driver at your beck and call during your stay.
As we reported the changeover from Thompson happened on April 10 (apparently, the hotel was not up to brand standards.) Initially. we didn't think that Kimpton would be changing too much about the hotel (aside from going 100 percent smoke-free) but we've got word from Kimpton that they plan on giving a "light refresh" to the interior spaces and the rooftop bar area.
That will include new pillows on the bed, Kimpton's famous animal print bathrobes in the closet, pet-friendly perks, the all-important evening wine hour and Kimpton's EarthCare program which includes more than 100 eco-friendly operating practices.
And unlike with Thompson, the WiFi at Kimpton will be free, so long as you join the Kimpton InTouch loyalty program. We're excited already!
Have you stayed at the Donovan House since Kimpton took over? Let us know how it went!
[Photo: The Flying Mermaid]
As we mentioned the other day, the Donovan House in DC will go from a Thompson Hotel to a Kimpton Hotel and thanks to a recent and frequent guest, we've learned that the changeover will happen on April 10.
We've also learned that the Donovan House will be entirely 100 percent smoke-free when Kimpton takes over. This is interesting because we didn't even think the hotel had smoking rooms as so few places do these days.
Yet if you're a smoker visiting DC, Smokers-United.com has rounded up a few places in DC that will let you do your thing in your room. Those include mostly budget options (Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, etc) but also the Mandarin Oriental, The St. Regis, the Fairmont and the old school Hay Adams. But unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any in-between or boutiquey lifestyle brands.
[Photo: The Flying Mermaid]
After we got word that Thompson Hotels was dropping the Hotel Sax from its collection for "not being up to brand standards", we heard that the Donovan House in Washington, DC is getting dropped as well for the same reasons.
And just like in the case with Hotel Sax, the Donovan House is rumored to be picked up by Kimpton Hotels, although we are unsure of when the changeover happens.
HotelChatter Questions: In which, the intrepid HotelChatter editors and our hotel maven readers answer hotel questions that pop into our inbox. Have a question for us? Send it along. Think you have a better answer than we gave, or better yet, want to give a vote of confidence to our answer? Comment away below.
As hotel geeks we understand the concept of being teacher’s pet at school, which is why, this week, we’re helping out a teacher reader who’s looking for a hotel in Washington, DC. He writes:
I'm going to DC this weekend for Teach For America's 20th anniversary event. If anyone decides to annihilate DC off the map this weekend, this country is sh-t out of luck on the public education/social justice best and brightest front! Might try the Thompson Hotel (Donovan House) there; have you been and do you have a favorite DC hotel?
Yes, sir, indeed we have. We stayed at Donovan House when it was brand new, and we liked it a lot for its comfy beds, stylish digs, Kiehls amenities and, most importantly, its cocoon showers. And, of course, if you meet a lady teacher who gets you all hot under the collar (*Disclaimer: we know neither this reader’s marital status nor his sexual preference), you can smoosh in style at a teacher-friendly price.
Room rates are extremely reasonable, too – they start at $109 this weekend, and include free WiFi if you want to upload some photos to make your students jealous. In fact, the only thing we didn't like about the place, is that there was no view as such - you're looking at the street, and there's not much of interest on that street.
With plans for a D.C. weekend this fall, we're totally psyched about seeing Michelle Obama's Jason Wu inaugural gown at the National Museum of American History. Now we're wondering if we should splash out and have a much more presidential experience, with the First Ladies: American Style at the White House package at the St. Regis Washington D.C.
Forget the Real Housewives! We want to live it up like a First Lady. So if we can rustle up the $509 a night necessary, here's what we'd choose to do over being tacky and crashing a White House party...
Looking to get your curling on this weekend? No, not hair curling. Real curling, the Olympic sport where people throw a kettle down a sheet of ice and start sweeping up immediately after it.
Ok, so maybe that isn't the most technical way to describe curling but if you are curious about this sport and want to learn how to play it, pop into the Hilton Garden Inn at 14th and I streets NW in Washington DC where the hotel will be hosting a three-day curling exposition.
This particular hotel is actually the official hotel of the US Curling Association and the hotel's general manager (a curling fanatic) has gone to great lengths to get the curling expo set up at the hotel, including making a few trips to Canada. But he still needed the help of others. The Washington Post reports:
In recent years, Washington DC's downtown has transformed into a destination you might actually want to hang out. Or at the very least, those safe-clean-friendly claims being made about it a few years ago are now much closer to being true! Think haute restaurants, quality theatre and galleries, and much, much more foot traffic. (There's even a trendier name for the 'hood: Penn Quarter.)
For Marriott's part, they've responded to the neighborhood's spiffier image with an $11 million renovation at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, just in time to celebrate the hotel's 15-year anniversary. The 459-room hotel recently unveiled its new contemporary look and feel, which includes 32-inch plasma screen TVs, tech-friendly plug-in panels, and check-in self-serve kiosks. In the lobby, "semi-private seating nooks" give comfortable spaces for guests to work or mingle, particularly thanks to the free WiFi.
We’ll admit, we’ve always been suckers for a good pile of in-room magazines. But the Loews Madison in DC is offering something even better — the chance to step into, literally, one of everyone’s favorite magazines, National Geographic. To coincide with the National Geographic Museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Terra Cotta Warriors,” the Loews Madison is celebrating its close proximity — two blocks away — with a package deal.
The “National Geographic Museum Terra Cotta Warriors” package features two premium “anytime” tickets to the museum exhibition, overnight “deluxe” accommodations, and a 20-percent discount at the NatGeo store.
The exhibit runs Nov. 19 through March 31, showcasing 15 terra cotta warriors and other artifacts from the tomb of China’s first emperor, from stone armor and weapons to coins and bronze vessels.
Package rates start at $149 and is available throughout the exhibition run.