I SPY CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL
Oh, say can you see … that we can’t get enough of the US? It’s Aussies’ No.1 long-haul international destination, with a return rate of 72 per cent. But if you haven’t visited the nation’s capital yet, now is the time to go.
Washington, D.C. is awash with change with $11.5 billion in major openings and renovations under way, including 21 new hotels. Espionage is being super-sized with the International Spy Museum more than doubling in size, Kennedy Center will bump up its performance space, and the iconic Washington Monument will reopen next year with a new visitor experience and elevator system.
Destination DC CEO Elliott Ferguson says travellers may come for the monuments but are staying for the museums, night-life, theatre, dining and outdoor activities. “Visitors are often surprised at just how green and walkable the city is,” he says.
As for where to stay? “Staying in Georgetown or at The Wharf is closer to the water, downtown hotels are closest to the National Mall; or stay in other historic neighbourhoods like Adams Morgan, Logan Circle and Dupont Circle for a local experience.” CELESTE MITCHELL
POD DC OVERNIGHT RATE FROM $US99 (ABOUT $139, QUEEN POD)
With so much to see and do in D.C., sometimes it pays to keep it simple when it comes to accommodation. Rooms at the light and bright Pod DC are compact and smartly designed. Eschewing “extras” like room service, a pool, and in-room coffee makers means prices are kept lean but you’ll still benefit from free Wi-Fi, hairdryers, a safe, and a fitness centre. Work to do? Enjoy access to The Cove Workspace, just around the corner. Join a free walking tour or make like a local and explore by motorised scooter. There’s a cafe, diner, and rooftop bar on-site, offering views over the Washington Monument, as well as a very cool subterranean whiskey bar. Located in Penn Quarter, you’re only three blocks from the Washington Convention Center and two stops on the Metro from Union Station.
EATON DC OVERNIGHT RATE FROM $US219 (CABIN QUEEN)
Is it a hotel? An office? A performance space? Or an artist residence? Well, it’s all these things and it’s shaking up the D.C. hotel scene. Touted as the “anti-Trump hotel”, Eaton DC opened in September with politically charged design elements and panel discussions featuring activists. But whether you swing left or right, there’s much to love about this new design hotel brand. Rooms not only have Wi-Fi for streaming but also curated records, “radical and rare” books and “rigorously sourced” sustainable snacks. Mattresses are organic, the skincare is all natural. In the lobby there’s a glass-walled radio station, American Son restaurant and Kintsugi coffee shop, a theatre and coworking space. As well as run-of-the-mill wellness options – yoga, massage – you can book in for sound baths and shamanic journeys.
INTERCONTINENTAL WASHINGTON, D.C. – THE WHARF OVERNIGHT RATE FROM $US329 (KING DELUXE)
Park yourself on the water with a stay at the top hotel in Washington, D.C., according to Readers’ Choice Awards 2018. Positioned in the revitalised Wharf precinct, floor-to-ceiling windows beam light and views into the Intercontinental’s spacious rooms. Hungry? Kith and Kin’s Afro-Caribbean cuisine is the star of the dining options while the aptly named Watering Hole is where to go for a leisurely G & T. The best views, however, are at the rooftop pool and bar, WAVES. Extras like the L’Occitane spa, 24-hour room service, fresh flowers, complimentary newspapers, overnight shoe shine and a shuttle service bump up a stay here to luxury levels. A rosé bar called Slips & Sips opens next year, adding to the line-up in this up-and-coming district.