Cherry blossoms jubilee: D.C. hotels get makeovers

This spring, a crop of new — or newly renovated hotels — all of them with exceptional design, will make the city more inviting than ever. The landmark Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown — the first Four Seasons property in the United States — is just completing a $13 million restoration of both its east and west wings. Its guest rooms are looking positively spruce, let me tell you, with a cream and taupe color palette that is not only timeless but also subtly references cherry blossoms in soft and muted wallpapers.

The hotel’s “power” restaurant, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, is newly swank, too, with refreshed upholstery and a gorgeous new stone mosaic inlay floor. The Four Seasons’ spa, meanwhile, one of the very best in the city — with its own lap pool, no less — has also had an upgrade. The enhanced locker rooms alone will make you want to take a second look.

Two blocks away, the recently opened Capella Washington DC is in an enviable position, right on the Chesapeake Bay and Ohio Canal and close to the Georgetown Waterfront Park — perfect if you’re a jogger. Designed by Peter Silling, this design-conscious, intimate, 49-guest room hotel sports the first floor high-gloss wood and onyx Rye Bar, a rooftop bar and a canal-side terrace, along with museum-quality contemporary art.

Dupont Circle Hotel, which to my mind has felt ever so slightly down-at-heel in recent years, is looking up. Minutes on foot from the White House, the Irish-owned Dupont Circle Hotel, part of the very well-run Doyle Collection (former Emerald Isle President Mary Robinson was checking out as I was arriving), boasts a terrific club lounge on the ninth floor with exceptional views across the city in all directions. This summer will see a complete renovation of the hotel’s restaurant, Café Dupont. Already a very social hub, I think this will be a relaunch to look for.

One of D.C.’s most famous hotels, The Watergate, which first opened in 1967 but had fallen into decay and disuse in recent years, is relaunching this spring after a $125 million renovation — big bucks even in a city where big bucks can often seem like loose change. Originally designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti, the “new” Watergate will offer 343 rooms (100 more than previously), a whisky bar called The Next, a restaurant called Kingbird and a rooftop bar called The Top of the Gate. Many of the hotel’s key interior spaces are the work of Israeli artist and designer Ron Arad.

And it doesn’t stop there: There’s a new Hyatt Place — the not-quite-budget brand from Hyatt — on K Street, near the White House; Marriott’s cosseting and rather sexy new AC Hotel at National Harbor and the totally reimagined “urban-lifestyle” Embassy Row Hotel, another Dupont Circle property, which has been completely made over. Headquarters for D.C.’s annual Pride Parade, The Embassy Row is looking very spry after its $15 million surgery, with a 24-hour “curated” chef’s pantry, an adult playground games room alongside a seriously well-equipped fitness center and a rooftop spa among its upscale offerings.

Spoiled for choice? You will be. But wherever you decide to stay in the nation’s capital this spring, don’t forget it’s not just about the hotel. After you’ve awakened and smelled the coffee (from the latest, state-of-the-art VertuoLine Nespresso coffee machine, no doubt), don’t forget exactly why it was you came to town in the first place.

That’s right: You need to get out and smell the blossoms.

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