Don’t get me wrong – I love a middle-of-nowhere, blissfully disconnected getaway as much as the next city girl. However, in Washington, DC, the only way to stay is smack-dab in the center of things. And the Dupont Circle Hotel, a polished, luxury stay, is located right at the nexus of, well, everything, making for one of the most enviable addresses outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr Smiths ditched for the weekend, my friend and I escaped for a girlfriends’ getaway. The all-blue skies and blooming cherry blossoms welcome couldn’t have been lovelier. And, our eating, drinking and general leisure agenda couldn’t start soon enough. DC may be a high-powered city but it’s also one that understands the value of large green spaces, early happy hours and plenty of outdoor seating – all of which we planned to take abundant advantage.
Upon check-in, it quickly became apparent that meeting our every indulgent agenda item this weekend would not be a problem as everyone was exceedingly (almost disturbingly) nice and helpful. Perhaps it’s because we’re from New York, but the staff seemed suspiciously accommodating – from the sunny receptionist who informed us that of course our room was available at 11am on the dot, to the staffer who left his post to help us track down a copy of that day’s paper.
Our second wonderful realization of the day was the hotel’s proximity to just about anything – an almost-impossible feat in a city actually designed to confuse an invading army with its roundabouts and distinct lack of a grid. Set on well-heeled Dupont Circle, the hotel is a straight shot from the Mall and a leisurely walk to the buzzy bars and restaurants of U Street and Logan Circle, not to mention a hop and a skip from Dupont favorites.
Bags deposited in our tranquil, elegantly modern room with its grey textured walls, shapely white lamps and chic neutral palette, we surveyed our surroundings. Plush bed, large windows and conveniently located outlets should we (heaven forbid) need to plug in our laptops and do a little work. By far the best part of the room though was the shower: a large, spa-like space stocked with lovely Aromatherapy Associates toiletries. A little squirt of said bath potions and we were headed to (where else?) the bar to get in the off-duty mood.
Bar Dupont may be an after-work favorite, but it’s just as good (if not better) during the day, when the light streams in through the huge windows and you can sip a glass of wine while watching the parade of fresh-faced co-eds and tourists outside. It’s also a great spot for scoping out your fellow guests: a mix of dapper European couples (no fanny packs – AKA ‘bum bags’ to the Brits – in sight), young parents with mysteriously well-behaved kids and a few doe-eyed lovers.
Curious, we explored our home for the weekend further (no one said we couldn’t go upstairs), and it became obvious that the Dupont Circle is a full-service hotel frequented by political elite that masquerades as an intimate boutique property. There were ballrooms tucked off the petite, light-filled lobby, as well as a full gym and plenty of helpful staff. We also discovered Level Nine, the swanky hotel-within-a-hotel. Located on (yes) the ninth floor, it’s a slick enclave of suites that each come with deep soaking tubs, private concierge service, and expansive views – mental note to save up for one for next time.
But DC isn’t about staying in, no matter how attractive your hotel. That night, we popped over to U Street for dinner at Estadio, a trendy tapas bar known for its potent cocktails (try the house-made gin and thyme-tonic ) and convivial atmosphere. The next morning, we hopped out of bed and laced up our sneaks for a run down to the National Mall; the combination of the bursting cherry blossoms, crystalline sky and awe-inspiring monuments made for a blissful and restorative outing. High on endorphins, we brunched at the hotel’s Café Dupont: fluffy omelettes, crisp and slender French fries and plenty of strong coffee. From there, we wandered over to Georgetown for a little window-shopping before ending up at Kafe Leopold for late-afternoon wine and pastries. By the time we returned to the hotel, all we wanted was room service and HBO – both of which were readily available and eminently satisfying.
Waking up on an equally picturesque Sunday morning, we ambled over to Filter, the neighborhood’s hipster-cool coffee shop. Sipping our cold brew, we perused the Circle’s popular Sunday farmers market, already packed at 10am. Taste-testing local cheeses and pastries, and ogling the just-picked lettuces, wasn’t enough, though, and we vowed to return when we had time to shop. Next trip, for sure.
In full denial that our luxurious weekend was, in fact, ending, we took a chance and requested a late check-out. Our cynical New York selves were once again surprised by the obliging response – free of charge, of course. So, before heading to Union Station to catch our train, we decided to end the trip as we began it: with one last cocktail (a well-garnished Bloody Mary) and a toast to a most Capital City.