HotelCrush: a vehement, furious, downright pathological appreciation for hotel design and culture
We love hotels. We love room service. We love poolside cocktails. There is nothing more decadent than a trip to a hotel, the epicenter of our social circles and respite from our daily life. They are destinations in themselves, with the acumen of the location converged in the design and the sensibilities of its inhabitants. Hotels are daydreams made real, with amenities at your fingertips and a dip in the water just steps away. More than temporary homes, today's hotels aspire to be just like home - whatever home it is that you are looking for.
The hotel cocktail can be overpriced, rushed, and cranked out with the same care as a beer on tap. But it can also be deliciously reviving, the perfect complement to a sunny afternoon or evening outdoors. Here are our favorites to move you gently through the last few weeks of scorchingly pleasant weather.
The Parker Palm Springs - Fresh Squeezed Lemonade: We love the cold, tart taste of fresh squeezed lemonade and the Lemonade Stand at the Parker is devoted solely to this. With poolside ordering and shady lounge chairs, this is our favorite setting for an hour drowned in our Kindle and some Balzac.
W Hollywood - Berry Caipirinha: A good caipirinha is neither too sweet nor too sour, and the W Hollywood has struck the perfect balance of both. We love the addition of muddled strawberries which nearly turns the drink from a cocktail to a Jamba Juice.
W D.C. - Mixed Berry Mojito: Nothing seems more decadent than sipping a mint and berry cocktail on a weekday afternoon against the backdrop of snipers patrolling the rooftop of the White House. We love this refreshing cocktail for all the reasons we love mojitos (mint, lime) and berries (sweet, slightly acidic).
On the topic of D.C. travel our friend B, who's from D.C., turned to us and said, "Oh you HAVE to go to Donovan House, it totally reminded me of you."
So, we did.
The Donovan House is a case example of an extraordinarily marketed, well-photographed property with extremely good web presentation. The hotel's public spaces (the lobby, rooftop, pool, Zentan restaurant) appear much larger on the site than in person. Both the rooftop and lobby are shallow, essentially the same six-step width, and a bit claustrophobic despite the glass doors and open air.
After viewing the roof, we grabbed a quick dinner at Zentan, an Asian fusion restaurant with a solid sushi selection.
Yes, we ate everything!
View from the rooftop:
The Donovan House Lobby and Rooftop Pool (A.D.C.):
Notorious as much for its trysts as its lack of a public restroom, the Mayfair was a perfunctory listing in our black book that we pulled through without incident. With its immense ceiling, '80s brass fixtures, and obvious strain on non-tourist traffic, it was the only hotel in town that reminded us specifically of Las Vegas, a different kind of infamy we'd like to see it overcome.
The Lobby and Hallway:
Rounding the circular driveway to the Hay Adams is like stumbling on a Jamestown village or a Civil War re-enactment scene. The lobby is small, immaculate, and brightened by vases of fragrant white flowers. We loved the intimacy of the space and the dining room just up the stairs, the perfect setting for our next martini lunch lobbying for the removal of railroad tracks from the Washington Mall.
The Elevator Vestibule and Flowers:
The Dining Room:
Our third Mandarin Oriental was located outside of the downtown crush, past the Washington Memorial. Walking the distance from the W (a little over a mile in the summer heat) we were ready for refreshment and a walk-in freezer by the time we arrived. The Empress Lounge, located just past the lobby, serves tea buffet-style Thursday through Sunday from 2:30-4:30pm.
We loved the scones (though there was a slight dough-y taste undetected in either the Plaza's or Peninsula's), the smoked salmon on mini croissants, and the vegetable pinwheel sandwiches, along with the strong pot of delicious green tea.
The Mandarin Oriental Lobby and Flower Arrangement:
Afternoon Tea Buffet
Empress Lounge and Bar
Afternoon Tea Selection
Just next door to the W (formerly Hotel Washington) is the iconic Willard Inter-Continental, as stylish and architecturally competitive as when its current 12-story building opened in 1901. We love the breezy, spacious quality of the lobby and the stunning corridor, a sconce-lined transept that extends from the main entrance on E Street to the back entrance on F. If you're weathered from a walk through the park (or just in need of an afternoon Pimm's), the Nest Bar is your destination. Just take the rounded staircase in the lobby to the second floor speakeasy, and have a toast to the Beaux-Arts.
The Hallway and Nest Bar
D.C. is as culturally far from San Francisco as London is to Miami, but the bright gastropub with chalkboard specials and fresh fruit brimming from the mixologist's bar brought us back to the heavy cocktailing and SOMA eateries that SF is known for. Our stop at Hotel Monaco was for Poste, the glass-walled restaurant located in the courtyard. Though it's the perfect happy hour stop after work, we made this the first toast on our Saturday evening design prowl.
The Hotel Monaco Lobby and Entrance to Poste
The St. Regis is known as Starwood's flagship luxury brand, and each instance shares the hallmarks of quiet opulence and comfortable leisure. Our first venture in D.C. brought us through the doors of this beautiful property two blocks above Lafayette Square. A full drawing room extending the length of the building, the lobby is accented by the chandeliers that come standard issue in this town. But it's the north end where you'll want to pause for a glass of rosé on the blue velvet tufted couches in the bright, secretive corner lounge.
The St. Regis Lobby and Rosé Toast
The St. Regis Lounge
8/5/11: it's not going to happen, dc
We accept certain things as hotel standard issue – body lotion as part of the bath amenities, a chocolate brownie on 24/7 room service, negotiable checkout of at least +1 or 2 hours, and, if the climate is widely known as one of the most humid and punishing on the East Coast, a body of water to park next to with a lounge chair and glass of lemonade. So things aren't exactly coming together for us. We love the W with the passion of 13-15 room keys, and have found pools in unlikely (and no doubt underappreciated) circumstances like the W San Francisco. So, a few steps from the White House (also known as a building with prime undeveloped rooftop real estate), our horror was realized as we ascended to the roof and took a stark look around. Reality setting in, we acknowledged the obvious – we should have checked Tablet.
Roaringly theatric like the scene of a masquerade, the lobby of the W welcomes you with more than high ceilings and plumes of red, white, and black ostrich feathers. The W's signature purple and slightly sweet room fragrance are at full crank, as is the blue light filter and showroom cluster of white couches, tall black and cream chairs, and red vinyl opera couches. We clocked in hours in the lobby catching up with friends and plunging through our latest Gilded Age read, and spent afternoons on the rooftop with our sketch book and a plate of something delicious. Perfectly on beat with our morning, afternoon, or end of the night, we're smitten with another W and feverishly on the path to collecting them all..
The Lobby and Bar:
The Lobby Lounge Day and Night:
P.O.V. Lounge on the Rooftop Day and Night:
View from P.O.V.
The Hotel Room:
The Bathroom and Bliss Spa: