The Old Post Office in Washington, D.C. has been a landmark since debuting in 1899. Topped with its iconic clock tower and perfectly perched between the White House and the Capitol, the building served as the country’s General Post Office until 1914. Still owned by the federal government, the building underwent many transformations before opening as a Trump-branded hotel in 2016.
After a much-publicized legal battle, the hotel underwent a few key changes and recently opened as the Hilton-branded Waldorf Astoria Washington DC. Many guests have been eager to peek inside, and we have the scoop on what’s new, what’s planned and what remains unchanged about the iconic hotel. Here are the five things you need to know:
You Can Tour the Hotel
The belltower of the luxury hotel, managed by the National Park Service, offers a 270-foot observation deck with some of the best views of the city; it is D.C.’s third-tallest building. Board a glass elevator and enjoy a self-guided tour once every five minutes. Look down at the marble floors and notice impressive historic details — like markings from where post trolleys once carried mail — or view the original wainscoting, which was restored to glory during the renovations.
The Historic Elements of the Hotel Still Shine — with a Few Waldorf Astoria Twists
Throughout the years, the hotel remained true to its roots and adhered to specific standards of décor and architecture to retain the building’s history.
Historic details — like oversized oak doorways and rich blue velvet fabrics and original brass detailing — remain in place with the new management; Waldorf Astoria confirms it does not anticipate any significant physical changes in the short term, nor any closures to existing services.
However, you can now participate in the brand’s Hilton Honors loyalty program and personalized guest concierges. Many of the staff members are still in place from the previous management, a benefit for return guests, as the service was always a highlight at this luxury property.
The Property Boasts Hilton’s First D.C. Spa
The lower-level spa, the first Hilton-branded spa in D.C., feels like an oasis in the city. It offers 10,000 square feet of space, six treatment rooms and couples suites. Take advantage of the Himalayan salt chamber for extra Zen time pre- or post-treatment. Want to work up a sweat? The spacious gym is loaded with TechnoGym equipment for your fitness forays.
Additional benefits and service enhancements are planned in the coming months, and in the meantime, you can enjoy proximity to D.C.’s main attractions, most of which, including 14 Smithsonian museums, are walkable from the hotel.
The Hotel Pays Homage to Waldorf Astoria Traditions
We’d call many of the updates to the property to be “enhancements,” and one of our favorites is the addition of Peacock Alley, an all-day dining and bespoke cocktail program pioneered at the flagship Waldorf Astoria New York. The lobby-level bar makes a great place for people watching while perusing a drinks menu that pays tribute to Benjamin Franklin, the country’s first postmaster general. One of Frank’s publications was Poor Richard’s Almanack, circulated annually with seasonal weather patterns, witty sayings and enduring advice. Each cocktail on the menu is accompanied by a selection from the almanac as an homage to Franklin, a champion of the postal service.
For a more formal dining experience, Sushi Nakazawa, an acclaimed Japanese restaurant, has remained open throughout the change.
Acclaimed Chef and Humanitarian José Andrés Will Open a Restaurant
It has taken more than 30 years, but José Andrés will finally realize his dream of opening a restaurant inside the hotel. The chef, who was slated to have a spot in the hotel as part of its original conversion six years ago, pulled out following disagreements over political views with the Trumps. Later this year, he will debut Bazaar, a Spanish-style restaurant known for its over-the-top styling and dishes like salt air margaritas and tacos topped with Iberico ham and caviar, in the space formerly occupied by BLT Prime. There is a Bazaar outpost inside Miami’s SLS and Bazaar Meat concepts in Vegas, Chicago and a soon-to-open L.A. location.
Andrés, who makes his home in the D.C. area, is beloved by locals who flock to his gastronomic powerhouse Minibar, as well as more casual spots like China Chilcano, Oyamel and Jaleo.