The Hay-Adams Hotel is just a few steps away from the White House in Washington DC.
It is one of Washington’s most impressive addresses, located across from Lafayette Square and St John’s Church, known as the Church of the Presidents. The Obamas often walked from the White House to the church across the park. The boutique hotel is just minutes from many well-known museums, Washington Monument, Capitol Building and the Mall.
This classic hotel takes its name from earlier residents of its site, John Hay, private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later secretary of state, and Henry Adams, an acclaimed author and descendant of U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.Originally designed and built as a residential hotel it was rebuilt in 1927 in an Italian Renaissance-style with impressive architectural embellishments such as Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting and intricate ceiling treatments featuring Elizabethan and Tudor motifs – many of the features are still preserved.
Over the years it has been the home to Washington’s elite, including Ethel Barrymore, Amelia Earhart, Sinclair Lewis and Charles Lindbergh. They enjoyed the setting and views, as well as the large suites, kitchens, steam heat, elevators, circulating ice water and, in 1930, Washington, DC’s first air-conditioned dining room.
Renovations reflect elegance, comfort and heritage. The hotel is known for its exceptional service in a discreet, intimate atmosphere. Step through the doors and you are immersed in another world and you never know who you will bump into. President Obama and his family lived here for some time before moving into the White House.
The Lafayette Room offers contemporary American cuisine and overlooks Lafayette Square and the White House. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Breakfast is excellent offering delicious fresh juices in a rainbow of colours – think beetroot based or go for healthy greens. The menu offers an impressive selection to start the day.
The oatmeal soufflé tastes as good as it looks and is worth waiting for – it takes 20 minutes to prepare. It comes with toasted pecans and a wild berry sauce.
Another guest confided that the broiled Maryland-style crab cakes have a great following.
Head to the hotel’s famous intimate watering hole Off the Record cocktail bar, that’s chic and inviting- just wander down stairs.
It’s popular with politicians, lobbyists, well-heeled locals and guests – Frank Underwood from House of Cards would fit in well.
With a name like Off the Record and its proximity to the White House, it intrigues before you even sit down.
Known as the best place to be seen and not heard, you just wish those walls could talk as you sip a Trumpy Sour made from Knob Creek Whiskey, lemon juice, thyme and honey. Check out the caricatures of the city’s political elite both past and present on the walls and appearing on the famous coasters.
Top of the Hay is the hotel’s upstairs private reception centre with the most breathtaking views over Washington DC and the White House. It’s perfect for weddings and special occasions.
The hotel offers 145 rooms and suites with a choice of three views – the White House, Lafayette Park and St John Church. Not surprisingly the White House rooms are most favoured.
Book the Federal Suite with a private balcony for the best views of the White House.
The luxe accommodation features fine European linens and marble bathrooms with Etro bath products. Toile trimmings and luxurious furnishings. It would be easy to stay put but Washington DC has so much to see and do.
Can’t sleep at night or suffering from jetlag? Just pick up the complimentary pocketsize colouring book, commissioned exclusively for the hotel and created by Pulitzer Prize cartoonist Matt Wuerker.
Almost a year in the making, the 13-page book sports drawings of 11 iconic monuments in the nation’s capital along with some more intimate settings in and around the landmark Hay-Adams, situated steps from the White House. It comes with coloured pencils.
Wuerker’s work can also be seen in Off the Record, as he was one of the artists commissioned to create some of the collectible political drink coasters.
Feel like some exercise but want to skip the gym- there are bikes that come with a helmet and bike lock, cycling maps with points of interest and snack-stopping options along the way
You can pedal all the way to historic Mount Vernon taking in the Mall and its monuments, the tidal basin, and Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia on a designated biking trail.
If you venture too far – call the hotel for a complimentary pick up.
The Downtown area includes Federal Triangle, Penn Quarter, Foggy Bottom, West End, Mount Vernon Square, Chinatown and Logan Circle. There are also many public parks such as Farragut Square, McPherson Square, and Lafayette Square located in the heart of Downtown.
Sit in the lobby and take it all in – you never know who you will see coming and going.
Forgotten to book museums, restaurants or shows ahead of your stay – the amicable concierges can help – nothing is too much trouble.
What I loved
Apart from the delicious chocolate ‘White House’ filled with decadent morsels which greets us in our room on arrivel, there’s a sense of history about the hotel and those White House views are to die for. The hotel lives up to its motto – “nothing is overlooked except the White House.” It’s all about great service and the hotel well deserves its many accolades.
The Hay-Adams Hotel
Address: 800 16th Street NW, Washington DC.
It is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.