20036 Travel Guide
"Long as I got my suit and tie (and drill), I'm a leave it all on the floor tonight...."
Calling Hotel PR people! Hot new hotel construction awareness trend alert! No longer are time-lapse videos of hotel room renovations the way to spread the news about a hotel's make-over. Instead, it's time to photograph your general manager suited up and wielding a drill. That's right, we fell for it. Now onto the real news at hand.
Perhaps seeking to eradicate all traces of Eliot Spitzer, the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC has kicked off a $20 million renovation project with general manager John Montano overseeing the jack hammer work for demolition for the very first hotel room.
The renovation will fix up all 583 rooms and 74 suites at the historic hotel, which will remain open for business during the work with construction happening floor by floor.
Here's what the new rooms will look like when the makeover is completed, hopefully by March 2015:
Black & White margarita
If you want to toast the Oscars, head down to the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. Not only will the hotel's Quill lounge screen the Academy Awards, it also will serve up some special cocktails inspired by the Best Picture nominees.
While you pick out the star who will join swan-wearing Bjork and flower-boobied Charlize Theron in the Worst Dressed Hall of Fame, sip on libations like the Black Swan-inspired Black & White margarita—three muddled lime wedges, two teaspoons of white sugar, a half ounce of Cointreau, 1.25 ounces of white tequila, a half ounce of house-made aloe vera juice, and double-salt rim of black Hawaiian salt and thyme-lemongrass-infused salt.
When you book a room on the Dupont Hotel's ninth level concierge penthouse floor, you expect lots of extra amenities—packing/unpacking services, complimentary iPod to borrow, etc. But one of the best little-known perks is found in the minibar. You get a complimentary bar stocked with full-size bottles of premium liquor. Hard drinkers need to toast to that.
You'll be able to get your hotel party started with full bottles of Belvedere Vodka, 10 Cane Rum, Tanqueray, Black Label Johnnie Walker, white and red wine and a half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
To mark its one-year anniversary after a 2.5-year renovation, the Jefferson will be throwing a key party. Not those gross kinda key parties where swingers swap keys and partners. Instead, the hotel is selling antique keys for a contest to see who can unlock various prizes from the hotel.
On August 31 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., five locked boxes full of swag will be waiting to be unlocked in the lobby. People who have purchased keys will be invited to try their luck to see if they can open the boxes.
If you’re a political power broker in D.C. you already know that the Town & Country Bar inside The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel is an integral part of the city’s wheeling and dealing. You may even consider it as an extension of your office. But given the hotel’s history, the place was starting to look a little worn. That’s why people called it “distinguished” and “a classic” with “world-class charm.” No more! After being a closed for a month, the Town & Country has re-opened sporting $200,000 worth of renos.
Fans of that “distinguished” look will be pleased to know that the additions are being described as “subtle”—there’s new leather furniture, communal tables, and sleek mahogany and walnut floors. The menu got a makeover too. The happy hour menu has expanded to include grilled flat breads, filet mignon bites, and tempura chicken tenders. The best part? These new dishes are just 5 bucks apiece on weekdays from 5–7 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to midnight. Perfect for that senator’s intern budget!
Oh lordy, it’s begun. We speak, of course, of the inevitable descent of Dan Brown fanatics looking to unlock the secrets of the Masonry in DC as described in his new bestseller novel, “The Lost Symbol.” And just as inevitable: DC hotels looking to cash in on the influx of tourists. The new boutique Dupont Hotel leads the way with its “Ultimate Lost Symbol Package.”
With a $5,999 price tag, you might need to sweet talk Dan Brown into footing your bill, but that’s besides the point. True devotees know no cost, we suppose.
In this regular feature on HotelChatter, we choose a hotel and take a look at what other businesses or buildings are on its block. Because what's close by is nearly just as important as what's inside the hotel.
The Jefferson's enviable location – straddling the city's political and social scenes at the corner of 16th and M Streets NW – puts guests in the center of it all.
… D.C.'s liveliest neighborhood, Dupont Circle, beckons to the immediate northwest with a cosmopolitan mix of restaurants, coffeehouses, blue-chip galleries and trend-setting retail shops.
… The Jefferson is also near two of Washington's trendiest "new" neighborhoods: Penn Quarter and the U Street Corridor.
And they’re right on target: The hotel is located in a pretty prime spot for walking both downtown and to lively Dupont and Logan Circles, and a long but definitely doable trek to Penn Quarter and the U Street Corridor. And from its corner, you have a straight shot view of the White House, a nice reminder of where you are.
We popped into DC's shiny-new Jefferson Hotel this week for a nightcap at the hotel's bar, Quill. And true to hype, Quill delivered with a high-class vibe and top-shelf cocktails. We snapped a few (admittedly not amazing) photos of the bar and entryway.
A few highlights from our experience:
Even though we're younger and far less moneyed than the Jefferson's chi-chi target clientele, everyone we encountered — from the doorman to the bartender — struck us as genuinely appreciative of our patronage.
We ordered off the signature cocktail list ($15 each; pictures below), including one called the Master Mind that involved chatting with the bartender about our preferences and mood. He came up with a refreshing berry-infused vodka and ginger liqueur cocktail with mint, basil, cucumber, and a foamy pineapple puree topping. Our date ordered the Agave, a tequila, white peach puree, pineapple, cointreau, and vanilla sugar elixir.
Alright, so we confess we haven't yet had a chance to check out DC's Jefferson Hotel, which reopened Monday after a two-year, floorboard-to-ceiling renovation. When we toured the construction site back in May, the place was a long way from being guest-ready, but the parts that were ready were more than suitably swank. Of course, we're still skeptical about $300 and up introductory room rates, but that's probably more a reflection of our ever-thinning wallets. Anyways! We hope to have some real photos of the lobby and public areas next week, but to tide you over here's a press photo op that's sort of fun.
The photo shows managing director Franck Arnold (pictured right) and doorman Ahmed Omer doing the honors of the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Omer is The Jefferson’s longest standing employee, with his 25th anniversary coinciding with the hotel’s re-opening. When we met him briefly back in May, his dedication to the hotel struck us as endearing, so we like that he was honored at the festivities.
[Update: We were looking at the wrong room category. Room rates will be available for $300 for the hotel's classic king room category on the weekends. Mid-week rates will start at $380. We apologize for the error.]
We thought The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC would be open by now but when we went to check out the going rates, we found that we could not make reservations until next week, August 31. The Washington Business Journal has also confirmed the hotel's "new" opening date.
But aside from the delay, which to be honest is not all that bad in the scheme of things, the room rates have gone up. Last we heard, the rates would be around $300. Yet they've actually gone up to $440 a night. That's even with the special opening discount of 20 percent. Seriously, Jefferson? That's just not reasonable anymore. It's not like you even have a presidential inauguration to look forward to either. Why can't you just let the people experience your hotel first before jacking the rates? How can you expect folks to try a brand-new hotel at that rate? Surely, Thomas Jefferson would have something to say about this.
But if some of you out there are keen to stay here, hit up the hotel on the weekends when rates start at
an equally ridiculous a cheaper rate of $380 a night.
We’re still awaiting word on the official opening date, but here’s what we know: The Jefferson is accepting reservations starting Aug. 24, a fact that’s been confirmed by the Jefferson’s team. Here’s what else we know: The hotel’s restaurant, Plume, and bar, Quill, will be fully operational on Aug. 24. And the Jefferson is offering 20 percent off stays through October 3, with rates starting at $300 for a weekend night stay.
Pricey, of course, but that’s actually lower than they told us back in May. And we’re expecting a pretty nice value for that money. After all, this place has been revamped with all the bells and whistles Mr. Jefferson himself would have fancied.
As we busy ourselves heaping hype on the soon-to-open W Washington DC and soon-to-reopen Jefferson, we’ve pretty much ignored the capital’s new Dupont Hotel. Shame on us, we suppose: The hotel is a revamped, posher version of the former Jurys Washington Hotel. It re-opened its doors fairly quietly amid a flurry of cherry blossom excitement back in April.
Deftly coming to our aid is one Fred Bernstein of the New York Times, who apparently checked in during the hotel’s opening week and published a review yesterday. The hotel has undergone a “top-to-bottom renovation,” Bernstein says, and though the hotel will have its official opening at the end of the summer it was “operating nicely” during his April stay, which is always nice to hear.
Highlights: Not that this bit has changed, but it’s the only hotel actually on Dupont Circle, one of DC’s most popular neighborhoods among both tourists and locals, located about a block from the metro. Bernstein’s room was large with a “masculine, clubby décor” (think wood shutters instead of curtains, beige leather headboard, gooseneck reading lights). The top floor will feature 13 suites with “enhanced amenities.” Design “strikes a good balance between openness and privacy.” Wi-fi everywhere (though it’s not clear whether it was free). The bar overlooks prime people-watching perch Dupont Circle with floor-to-ceiling windows and is “cheerfully designed.”