After the longest and harshest D.C. winter in recent memory, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a welcome rite-of-spring tradition — at least we hope so. From March 20 through April 13, the nation’s capital celebrates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo’s Mayor Yukio Ozaki to Washington, D.C., with a series of special events, including a kite festival on March 29, fireworks on April 5 and a parade and Japanese street festival on April 12. But for the 1.5 million visitors soaking in the puffy pink-and-white flowers on breezy springtime walks, D.C.’s festive specials further gild the lily. Here’s where to stay during the month-long celebration:
Do good while being pampered with The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Give-A-Tree Package. At check-in, you will get a card with the official Cherry Blossom Festival artwork; for each card the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel gives away, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in a national forest. Breakfast for two is included, as is gourmet Japanese pocky (candy-coated biscuit sticks) made by the hotel’s pastry team, and for extra, Westend Bistro offers a special chef’s tasting menu for the occasion (indulge in pan-roasted crispy skin duck breast with handmade cherry bowtie pasta and Heering cherry liqueur sauce). Starting at $399 per night, the package is valid from March 20 through May 31. Sister property The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. is running the same promotion during that time: You’ll receive the card, breakfast for two and cherry s’mores instead of the pocky. The Georgetown hotel’s deal starts at $489 a night.
This West End hotel offers a Spring Cherry Blossom package (starting at $309 per night) through April 27. You’ll receive a pot of cherry blossom green tea from Park Hyatt Washington’s tea cellar, an upgrade to a Premier Park Deluxe room, breakfast for two at Blue Duck Tavern (one of Washingtonians’ favorite dining destinations — we recommend the short rib hash or biscuit breakfast sandwich with locally sourced lamb merguez), and a kids’ backpack with cherry blossom sightseeing supplies. Longing for an evening without the youngsters? Request the Families at the Park Plan and an adjoining room for $125 extra. On March 22, Blue Duck Tavern celebrates the blooms with Cherry Sips & Bites, an educational wine experience paired with cherry-blossom-inspired dishes.
At the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, cherry blossoms touch every part of your D.C. experience. Start with the Cherry Blossoms Bloom package, available March 14 through April 13 from $395 (with suite upgrades for an extra $200), which includes breakfast for two at Muze and festival-influenced treats. The deal includes a 20 percent discount on a cherry-blossom-inspired treatment at the Four-Star spa (valid Monday through Friday). Afterward, head up to the bar at Four-Star CityZen by Eric Ziebold, a local favorite, for a cherry blossom cocktail and views of cherry trees along the Potomac River and Tidal Basin.
Located just one block from the White House and graced with substantial historic charm, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Willard InterContinental offers a Very Cherry Blossom package that includes two Old Town Trolley Tour tickets to enjoy the trees throughout D.C. and breakfast for two at Café du Parc. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant has a full cherry-blossom-themed menu, and its patio is one of the best dining spots to enjoy a spring day alfresco. Starting at $299 per night and available through April 30, the package also puts you within floors of the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Red Door Spa, D.C.’s classic Round Robin bar and a lavish cherry blossom display. Daily Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea service presents such selections as cherrywood-smoked salmon sandwiches, brandied cherry cake and cherry champagne with live Japanese music, played by a kimono-clad koto player. After, take a trip to the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Chigusa and the Art of Tea” exhibit, where on March 23 and April 6, Willard guests will enjoy exclusive access to a Japanese tea presentation.
Photos Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group LLC, Park Hyatt Washington and InterContinental Hotels