Now that spring is officially here — although you could argue that it came and went a few times between January and now — we’re ready to cure our cabin fever once and for all. We’ve got plenty of remedies to choose from: a stroll through the National Mall, a lap around the Tidal Basin to take in the cherry blossoms (or at least what’s left of them) or a picnic at one of Washington’s many parks. Then there are the hotels. Think outside the walls, because they are.
Taking advantage of premium real estate such as rooftops, patios and pools, hotels are offering wellness classes, drink specials, theme parties and quiet spots in the sun. And of course there are the opportunities off-property, too. Here’s a look at the ways area hotels are helping us soak up spring.
MGM National Harbor
101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.
The big new kid on the block is making its presence known during D.C.’s biggest spring break celebration: the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs though April 16 (rain, snow or shine).
The $1.4 billion, 23-acre casino destination boasts 3,300 slot machines and a variety of pricey gaming tables spread out over 125,000 square feet. Casinos are not exactly known for being sunny places (no windows or clocks lest gamblers realize what time it is), but MGM mirrors Las Vegas’s shift toward high-end, diverse entertainment offerings to attract a wider clientele. Hence restaurants by big names such as José Andrés and the Voltaggio brothers, along with a massive concert venue and striking floral displays.
To that end, MGM is bringing the outdoors in with cherry blossom-like lighting fixtures and floral décor throughout the sleek, expansive property. Take a seat outside at Blossom Cocktail Lounge, which will serve special Nellie Blossom drinks named after President Howard Taft’s wife, Nellie, who planted cherry blossom trees. The cocktail is made with vodka, cherry blossom tea, pomegranate, lemon rose syrup and champagne.
Rosewood Washington, D.C.
1050 31st St., NW
This 49-room hotel along the C&O Canal in Georgetown is going all out for the tiny pink blooms. The Cherry Blossom Festival Package (starting at $675 per night for a two-night minimum stay through April 14) includes a Capital Segway tour for two through the petals and a kite to fly.
The Rosewood also has a great rooftop space overlooking the Potomac River. There’s an indoor/outdoor infinity-style pool and a bar, as well as wellness programming such as Yoga on the Roof that is open to hotel guests and the public.
“We’re excited to welcome guests and locals back to the rooftop bar and lounge this May,” said Pascal Forotti, the hotel’s managing director. “In addition to the refreshing cocktails and light bites we offered last year, we’ll be launching a new lunch service as well, so guests can enjoy the gorgeous setting and panoramic views of Washington, D.C.’s skyline from day to night. Additionally, following the success of last year’s Yoga on the Roof events, we’ll be continuing our wellness programming with our neighborhood fitness partners.”
Willard InterContinental Washington, DC
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
One of Washington’s most historic hotels has partnered with Château d’Esclans, a winery in Provence, France, for the inaugural Rosé Romp ($99 per person) on April 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. An official event of the Cherry Blossom Festival, the romp will take place on the hotel’s outdoor terrace, which will be adorned with real cherry blossom trees and an “Art Walk” featuring blossom-inspired artwork and live music.
Fun fact: The Willard hosted Japan’s first delegation to the United States in 1860. To commemorate that milestone, the hotel will again put trees on display in the lobby and Peacock Alley and offer the Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea ($52 per adult, $22 for children ages 5 to 12), through April 14. On the menu are teriyaki-cured salmon with cucumber on Japanese milk bread and matcha green tea and cherry vanilla scones.
With 13 hotels in the Washington area, Kimpton’s boutique properties offer many chances to get outside from the comfort of a hotel. At the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter, Dirty Habit restaurant and bar will debut its new patio this spring. The expansive space offers couches, chairs, fire pits, oversize lamps and orb string lights for warm-weather fun.
“The patio encompasses an entire city block and it faces into the courtyard [as opposed to the street], so it’s truly a private urban hideaway,” said William Smith, general manager of Dirty Habit. “Also new this year is our sound system. Don’t be surprised if we have some parties out there. Guests can stop by for drinks before — or after — their Verizon Center shows. We’re right across the street and we’re open late.”
DNV Rooftop at Kimptom’s Donovan Hotel on 14th Street, NW, offers not only views of Thomas Circle but boozy ice pops called Selfie Sticks and cocktails served in a whole coconut. Rooftop programming for the season includes Sunday Pool Parties and #TBT Music Nights featuring a vinyl DJ every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.
The rooftop is also open for brunch, which has an Asian flair. For instance, Zentan executive chef Yo Matsuzaki dishes up shrimp and grits with crispy shiitake mushrooms and chicken and waffles with cashew butter.
“One of the most popular activities in the nation’s capital is enjoying a good brunch. And if it can be outside, that’s even more of a win,” said Katie Miller, general manager of DNV Rooftop. “Starting this summer, we’ll be taking our weekend events to another level by hosting pool parties on Sundays [that are open to the public]. There will be a DJ mixing up popular tunes, and our lead bartender, Matt Allred, will be creating fun cocktails.”
Know a gamer? Not the electronic kind, but the throwback kind. If Connect Four and Jenga are your thing, stop by Radiator adjacent to Kimpton’s latest swanky addition, Mason & Rook Hotel, to play life-size versions of these popular games. Additionally, the Radiator team is taking over the hotel’s rooftop bar, and starting this month, there will be a “Cocktail” pop-up daily at 4 p.m., based on the popular Tom Cruise bartender flick.
“We’ll be dressed in characters from the movie and serving ’80s-inspired beverages and bites,” said Andrew Carlson, Radiator’s general manager. “On some of the days, we’ll have flair bartenders flipping bottles like Tom Cruise. Everyone is welcome — not just hotel guests.”
The Embassy Row Hotel
2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Named “one of the best rooftop pools in America” by USA Today, the Embassy Row Hotel isn’t resting on its laurels. Now with three seasons under its belt, The Rooftop at this 231-room hotel is making some tweaks to better meet guests’ needs. For one, it’s adding more dining space under a canopy so rooftop-goers can eat lunch or dinner in the shade. The Dupont Deck, or lower deck, is also getting more furniture, and there will be more lounge chairs around the pool.
But other aspects are staying the same. For instance, it will still offer Sunrise Epic Yoga on the rooftop at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays with instructors from Epic Yoga, a local studio (free for hotel guests, open to the public for a fee), and Silent Disco will continue to take place Fridays at 7 p.m.
The Rooftop can accommodate up to 250 people and will open early this season, on May 5, thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures as of late. The only rooftop pool in Dupont Circle, The Rooftop space is a huge draw, said Sara Crisafulli, area director of marketing and communications at the hotel.
“It’s certainly one of our best-selling features,” Crisafulli said. “It feels, when you’re up there, that you are on vacation even if you live in the city.”
Capitol Skyline Hotel
10 I St., SW
Originally designed by Morris Lapidus, the architect of Miami Beach’s famous Fontainebleau hotel, this 203-room property recently underwent a complete renovation. But one of the hotel’s best-known features is its competition-size outdoor pool, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Membership to the pool for the season is available to the public at $575 for five passes, $375 for two and $250 for one. Day passes cost $30.
Fairmont Washington, D.C.
2401 M St., NW
Fresh off a $27 million renovation, this 413-room luxury hotel has a newly redesigned courtyard garden that has been leveled to welcome large events.
The lushly landscaped courtyard is now home to two new water features, and lounge-type furniture clustered around three different fire pits will ring the perimeter under a canopy of cherry blossom trees.
The rest of the lobby also evokes an outdoor feel. Designed by Amanda Jackson of Dallas-based Forrest Perkins, she drew her inspiration for the revamped lobby from the geometry of an aerial view of the city of Washington. For instance, behind the front desk is a geometrically abstracted map of D.C. in warm gold tones. These geometric forms are carried into open shapes of mixed metals that are artistically hung from the ceiling and appear to float like stars randomly sprinkled throughout.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
201 Waterfront St., Oxon Hill, Md.
The $25 million ballroom expansion, set to open in May, at this Marriott-owned property aims to bring the outdoors in. The freestanding, waterfront RiverView Ballroom provides a 270-degree panorama vista of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Potomac River, Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Old Town Alexandria. It’s being “dubbed the Capital Region’s first infinity ballroom, with views that make it appear that the building is on top of the river,” according to a press release. The ballroom has 16,000 square feet of meeting space and 10,000 square feet of outdoor event space.
The Liaison Capitol Hill
415 New Jersey Ave., NW
Home to the only open-air rooftop bar on Capitol Hill, the Liaison’s recently redesigned poolside retreat opens to the public on Memorial Day, with a $35 day pass or a membership ($500 for two adults and one child; $250 per additional adult; $100 per additional child; and $250 per individual). Cabanas punctuate greenery and amenities include poolside yoga with Embrace Yoga at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday for $13. There’s also Support a Cause on Tuesdays at 5 p.m., when the hotel partners with nonprofits to raise money; DC Home Grown on Wednesdays, featuring local guest chefs and others; the SiP & DiP DC! pool party on Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m.; and Art Soiree’s Art Fusion on Saturdays, 7 p.m. to close, with live music performances, art installations and live painting. Art and Soul’s executive chef caters the menu at the poolside lounge and bar.
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert St., NW
Front and center on the hotel’s website, the resort-style outdoor pool overlooks the Omni’s 11 acres of landscaping. It’s open April 12 to Oct. 31, and the Splash! pool bar serves drinks and light fare, such as salads, crab rolls, panini and Italian water ice.
W Washington D.C.
515 15th St., NW
The POV Rooftop Terrace at the W Hotel is one of the best places to see the White House without the fence (and to be seen). Dress to impress at the trendy hotspot, which is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
At ground level, Pinea, which serves Italian-inspired dishes, will have themed events for Cinco de Mayo, a Kentucky Derby horse race watch party on May 6 and a Summer Solstice party on June 21, all featuring music, drinks and food on its patio.
The Watergate Hotel
2650 Virginia Ave., NW
This famous D.C. hotel opened its first rooftop lounge, Top of the Gate, last year, and offers 360-degree views of Washington icons such as the Kennedy Center, the Potomac River, the Key and Arlington bridges and the Washington Monument.
Among the special cherry blossom-themed food and drink offerings are foie gras smoked in cherry blossom, walnut, cherry and white asparagus.
The Watergate is also featuring blossom-inspired pampering at its Argentta Spa. Packages, including the Hydrating Cherry Blossom Body Ritual ($265 for 90 minutes), a vigorous exfoliation that incorporates warming ginger-grass, bamboo, organic rice bran, yuzu mimosa sea algae and anti-oxidant-rich rose camellia mist. Afterward, the whole body is stretched and hydrated with a shiatsu-inspired massage and an application of plum blossom and silk cream.
About the Author
Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.