One thing visitors to Washington, D.C. notice is that it lacks the soaring skyscrapers of cities such as New York and Chicago. The rationale is simple — city code prohibits building anything taller than the width of the street it faces. As a result, no building in the city is greater than about 14 stories tall, so nearly every rooftop event space in town offers panoramic views of major Washington sites from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument and more. Rooftop event spaces in Washington are relatively plentiful, but most are available only for hotel guests or used solely for private events. Here are a few of our favorite spaces that you can visit at your leisure.
Georgetown’s newest boutique hotel, which just opened in April, is getting buzz not only for its all-suite layout, but also for its swank rooftop bar that’s quickly becoming a local hot spot. The Observatory, as the rooftop is called, offers near-panoramic vistas of the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument and historic Georgetown. Serving specialty cocktails like “The Real House Wife,” made with brut, Hanger One Orange vodka and orange bitters, or the “Smoking Gun,” with tarragon-infused Casa Noble tequila, Cointreau, lemon, lime, sage and smoking rosemary, the bar is a sure spot to scout some of the city’s most fashionable denizens this summer.
Discover the essence of Miami in downtown D.C. at the newly-remodeled DNV near Thomas Circle. Billed as an urban rooftop retreat, the bar and nightspot, located in the city’s trendy Donovan House hotel features a sleek design of dark wood, glass and chrome surrounding a sparkling swimming pool. Nosh on Asian tapas such as smoked salmon rillettes or rock shrimp tempura and creative cocktails (such as the Wonder Powder Sour, a twist on the whiskey sour incorporating yuzu, a five-spice reduction and egg whites) from downstairs restaurant Zentan, or sip seasonal libations including Tea Lights, drinks that incorporate freshly-brewed teas. Officially, the name DNV stems from the abbreviation for the Donovan House Hotel and provides a little mystery — it was named after former CIA operative Bill Donovan — but locals also joke that the name stands for “Damn Nice View.”
Overlooking the White House lawn and offering panoramic scapes of downtown D.C. and the Washington Monument, POV (Point of View) at the W Hotel is the city’s quintessential rooftop bar. Open year-round (heaters, blankets and boozy warm drinks keep things cozy in the winter), POV offers small bites from J&G Steakhouse downstairs (think black pepper shrimp to chili-rubbed beef skewers) as well as a seasonally rotating menu of craft cocktails such as summer sangria with white wine, St. Germain, strawberries, oranges and pineapple, and a refreshing mojito, many of which are offered by the glass or pitcher. While available to the public, get there early because the reserved seating and limited space for non-hotel guests makes it an exclusive spot.
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Breij