New Washington, DC hotels offering a truly local stay

When a hotel opening coincides with a pandemic, a different kind of hospitality (dare we say, better?) Occurs.

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A a surprising number of new hotels opened in Washington, DC in those months when leisure travel was not recommended. The usual influx of visitors and businessmen in the capital having been interrupted, some hotels have chosen to rethink their mission and their role in the urban fabric. They took a proactive approach by welcoming neighbors to their public spaces, supporting small businesses and offering programming that addressed residents as well as guests. In the lobbies, restaurants, and bars of these five DC hotels, you’re just as likely to sit next to a local as you are to another guest. And honestly, how do you get to know a city better than through the people who live there?

Hotel Zena is focused on women, from its sleek decor by a woman-owned design company to its art collection that celebrates the power of girls.
  • Piece: Thomas Circle
  • Book now: Starting at $ 259 per night, expedia.com

A recent addition to Viceroy Hotels’ Urban Retreats collection, the women-focused Zena Hotel was designed from Adam’s Coast of two previous hotels, a Holiday Inn and a Donovan House. The hotel doesn’t just name the cocktails after suffragettes or imprint a feminist credo on your key card to accomplish its mission: instead, the sleek interior was commissioned from a design group. owned by women; walls and ceilings crackle with a collection of vibrant and provocative art created by and depicting women; and even the general manager overseeing day-to-day operations is female (alas, still a rarity in the hospitality industry). While the cheeky piece of art celebrates the achievements of women (yes, that’s the face of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a pointillist mural created from stamps!), The curved surfaces and pink palette celebrate the female form. .

The female drive towards activism and education is also represented by an ongoing partnership with N Street Village, a non-profit organization that provides services (housing, medical aid and advocacy) to homeless women in DC. Hotel Zena also has a fun side, hosting weekly speed-dating nights at the Figleaf Bar & Lounge and meditation classes led by neighborhood wellness guru, Faith Hunter.

Thompson Washington DC

  • Piece: Arsenal
  • Book now: Starting at $ 213 per night, expedia.com

The newly constructed Thompson property, which opened in early 2020, fits comfortably into the Navy Yard, a colonial-era neighborhood experiencing a development renaissance. The hotel, steps from Nationals Park baseball stadium, offers views of the Anacostia River and the city. The interior design offers a glimpse into the neighborhood’s history as a shipping and shipbuilding port: expect plenty of crisp navy blue details and nautical curves on the walls and furnishings. You’ll also see items that reflect the industrial vibe of the area, like high ceilings and tall metal-paned windows in rooms and public spaces.

Downstairs, serial New York restaurateur Danny Meyer has opened Maialino Mare, a seafood-focused trattoria, which ensures that lovers of local cuisine will venture among the Navy’s other outstanding dining options. Yard. Oysters, crabs and Chesapeake Bay fish are on the menu. A rooftop terrace has almost become de rigueur in the capital, and Thompson’s Anchovy Social offers 6,000 square feet of panoramic city views, with indoor and outdoor seating. Among its other local partnerships, the Thompson is teaming up with DC fashion entrepreneur Aaron Crist, owner of Hyde Closet, for a pop-up. The Hyde Closet website offers a personalized weekly rental box of selected men’s clothing (and cologne!) From local designers and retailers, a sort of Rent the Runway for men’s clothing.

Yours sincerely

  • Piece: Circle of Dupont
  • Book now: Starting at $ 179 per night, expedia.com

If the staff at Yours Truly seem unusually engaged and upbeat, it is because they were maintained during the closure of the previous Wink Hotel in early 2020 pending a complete overhaul, and have been consulted on the new iteration. Another undeniable charm of the hotel also stems from the planning stages: the design firm was given instructions to envision the public space as a gathering place as much as a hotel, and of course, the bohemian and brutalist lobby is became a magnet for the inhabitants. It also doesn’t hurt that the music playing throughout the hotel comes from the turntable of Uncle Tony’s Donut Shop, a new and used vinyl store adjoining the lobby, or that Mercy Me, the cafe- The hotel’s South American-inspired bar, a project of Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana, the team of superstars behind DC’s Call Your Mother deli and Timber Pizza.

The brutalist 70s bohemian design of the lobby and rooms – with warm tones of burnt orange, gold and brown, plush vintage Persian rugs on sleek concrete floors – is reminiscent of the Dupont Circle era as a as the hub of the city’s counter-culture. The 355-room independent hotel offers discounts at local stores, bakeries, and galleries, as well as the Groom Guy site, a men’s ‘lifestyle agency’ that started out as a COVID pop-up, cutting hair in the hotel lobby. Finding the rhythm of a destination is easier when you’re sitting among the locals, with a tropical drink or a taco breakfast in front of you.

The Kimpton Banneker Hotel is partnering with nonprofit Black Artists of DC to select a rotating exhibition of work by local color artists.

Kimpton Banneker Hotel

  • Piece: Scott Circle
  • Book now: Starting at $ 178 per night, expedia.com

Benjamin Banneker, an 18th-century African-American freeman, was instrumental in the surveying and design of DC, including the mapping of the neighborhood meridian, which modern 16th Street follows. Banneker was a remarkable self-taught scholar, inventor, astronomer and intellectual who corresponded with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The characteristic energy of the hotel is urban and sophisticated. Toronto-based Studio Mason uses a palette of black, brown, white, and dark blue to provide a rich backdrop to the bold and mostly abstract artwork throughout the property. The art collection includes local and international artists. The hotel partners with the nonprofit Black Artists of DC to select a rotating exhibition of works by local color artists, including a striking mural in the lobby of the Nigerian-American artist based at DC Victor Ekpuk.

The rooftop bar, named Lady Bird for the former First Lady (and decorated with a subtle speckled nod to the city’s official bird, the wood thrush, thus scoring a double birdie), is already become a favorite with DC residents. A U-shaped bar provides a friendly opportunity to combat lingering symptoms of social distancing.

Eat a cardamom breakfast for breakfast or return for a lively dinner at Café Riggs, run by Momofuku alumnus Chef Patrick Curran.

Riggs Washington DC

  • Piece: Penn Quarter
  • Book now: Starting at $ 296 per night, expedia.com

The transformation of the historic and majestic Riggs National Bank into a hotel is almost miraculous. The new entity manages to honor the grandeur of the neo-Romanesque building without the chill that could have resulted from all those hard marble surfaces. Instead, the iconic building retains iconic banking facilities like coffered and barrel-vaulted ceilings, modified front desk counters, and seriously serious conference rooms, but spices it all up with a touch of whimsy: a display extravagant floral introduces color, plush theater-like seats and curtains introduce texture, and the crisp sounds of silverware and Riggs Cafe laughter all day shatter the solemn silence. The cafe, with a diverse and fascinating menu from Momofuku alumnus Chef Patrick Curran, has become a popular gathering spot, from morning acai bowls and cardamom buns to late night fried steaks.

The bank’s basement vault has been transformed into a stunning cocktail bar, Silver Lyan, which prides itself on unusual ingredients and thoughtful preparations. (Project Apollo, a gin sour, uses freeze-dried pineapple, the first fruit sent on the Apollo missions.) Upstairs, bedrooms have soft furnishings in elegant Voutsa hues. Four suites, named in honor of four first ladies, are decorated with items that reflect their interests. For example, you’ll find a grand piano in the suite named after music lover Louisa Adams, and a dizzying plethora of flower-printed fabrics in the rooms dedicated to Ida McKinley. The Riggs’ yin / yang play – where the soft is juxtaposed with the harsh, the pretty the austere, the cool the warm – holds a mirror to a city where the impulses often oscillate between sincere public service and cold ambition.

>> Next: Washington, DC neighborhoods you shouldn’t miss

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