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.

Our Favorite Hotel Summer Drinks

8/25/11: hotelcrush

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).


Donovan House

8/7/11: dc

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.

Our order:

  • 2 Spicy Tuna Roll, cut
  • Yellow Tail (2pc)
  • 1 Lobster Asparagus Roll, cut
  • 1 Lump Crab (2pc)

Yes, we ate everything!


View from the rooftop:

donovan house washington d.c. view from the rooftop A.D.C.

The Donovan House Lobby and Rooftop Pool (A.D.C.):

donovan house lobby donovan house rooftop pool


Self-Improvement at the Mayflower

8/7/11: dc

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:

mayflower hotel washington d.c. lobbymayflower hotel washington d.c. hallway


Back in the Day: The Hay Adams

8/7/11: dc

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 Lobby:

hay adams hotel washington d.c. lobby hay adams hotel washington d.c. lobby second view

The Elevator Vestibule and Flowers:

hay adams hotel washington d.c. elevator vestibule hay adams hotel washington d.c. flower arrangement

The Dining Room:

hay adams hotel washington d.c. Lafayette Room


Tea at the Mandarin

8/7/11: dc

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:

mandarin oriental washington dc lobby mandarin oriental washington dc lobby flower arrangement

Afternoon Tea Buffet

mandarin oriental washington dc afternoon tea sweets buffet mandarin oriental washington dc afternoon tea savory buffet with pinwheel sandwiches

Empress Lounge and Bar

mandarin oriental washington dc empress lounge mandarin oriental dc hotel bar

Afternoon Tea Selection

mandarin oriental hotel washington dc afternoon tea selection with loose teas


The Willard Inter-Continental

8/7/11: dc

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 Lobby

willard inter-continental hotel lobby willard inter-continental hotel lobby front desk

The Hallway and Nest Bar

willard inter-continental hotel hallway willard inter-continental hotel nest bar


Hotel Monaco

8/6/11: dc

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

hotel monaco washington d.c. lobby hotel monaco washington dc restaurant poste


St. Regis D.C.

8/5/11: dc

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

st regis washington dc lobby st regis washington dc lounge sparkling rose

The St. Regis Lounge

st regis washington dc amour lounge st regis washington dc amour lounge with view of amour restaurant


W-here's the Pool?

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.


Welcome to the W DC

8/5/11: dc

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..


  • immediate access to our room after arriving at 7am
  • check-out at 3pm
  • W welcome wagon from which children are allowed to pick a toy
  • full access to the lobby and P.O.V. rooftop for us and our guests without a wait
  • excellent room service, on par with or better than the P.O.V. menu
  • Easily reserved complimentary Acura car drop-off service within 5 miles (perfect for a trip to Georgetown), an amenity often completely booked in locations like New York

The Lobby and Bar:

w hotel washington d.c. lobby front desk w hotel washington d.c. lobby bar during the day

The Lobby Lounge Day and Night:

w hotel washington d.c. lobby lounge during the day w hotel washington d.c. lobby lounge at night

P.O.V. Lounge on the Rooftop Day and Night:

w hotel washington d.c. p.o.v. rooftop lounge during the day w hotel washington d.c. p.o.v. lounge at night

View from P.O.V.

w hotel washington d.c. view from p.o.v. rooftop lounge during the day

The Hotel Room:

w hotel washington d.c. hotel room view of the bed w hotel washington d.c. hotel room view of the desk and tv

The Bathroom and Bliss Spa:

w hotel washington d.c. hotel room bathroom and sink w hotel washington d.c. bliss spa


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