What: Perched on Lafayette Square across the lawn from the White House, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel exudes history. The Hay-Adams was originally built in 1928 on the same property where the homes of both John Hay and Henry Adams originally stood, and much of the hotel’s original details—think intricate plaster ceilings and walnut wainscot—have been preserved. Each of the 145 rooms (including 21 suites) features interiors by acclaimed Washington, D.C. designer Thomas Pheasant that are residential in feel and include modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and Bose stereos complete with a CD selection that changes weekly.
Where: The Hay-Adams has one of the most prestigious addresses in the city—it’s about as close as you can get to the White House without knowing the First Family personally. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel sits on the corner of 16th and H streets just across the street from Lafayette Square. The Italian Renaissance façade and flags waving above the porte-cochère are the only clues you’ll see before pulling up to the historic hotel. And if you’re in D.C. to explore, you’re in a prime location for soaking up our nation’s capital; the National Mall is on the other side of the White House.
When: When The Hay-Adams opened in 1928, the stunning $900,000 building lured plenty of well-heeled guests. Perhaps one of the enticements—aside from the location—was being D.C.’s first air-conditioned dining room. The historic hotel closed its doors in 2001 to undergo a $20 million renovation, which included interior updates by Thomas Pheasant. And in early 2011, the roof terrace, Top of the Hay, was added. If it’s scenery you’re after, make sure to plan a trip during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival each spring when the powdery pink blooms blanket the city.
Why: The moment you walk into the ornate lobby, you can feel the historic presence. In fact, The Hay-Adams has played host to everyone from Amelia Earhart to the Obamas before the 2009 inauguration. Head downstairs to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s legendary bar, Off the Record, and you’ll get more than just a cocktail. The clubby bar is outfitted with political caricatures by well-known cartoonists, and is also known as the place to be seen and not heard. While politico gossip is great entertainment, it’s the commanding views from the guest rooms that we dig. Book one of the suites overlooking the White House and Lafayette Park, and you’ll be treated to unrivaled vistas extending all the way to the Pentagon.
Photos Courtesy of The Hay-Adams