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Is there a more instantly recognizable name in political scandal than Watergate? This complex of curving concrete buildings in Washington, D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood was home to the infamous break-in that led to the end of a presidency. The eponymous hotel even played a role; the organizers of the break-in were stationed in room 214 while the crime went down. Now, after sitting empty for years, The Watergate Hotel is re-imagined as a glamorous homage to the 1960s -- complete with some appropriately scandalous details.
Budget Level: Upscale ($150-$300/night)
Lodging Type: Large Hotel (100+ rooms)
What You Need to Know
From the glittering gold walls of the lobby whiskey bar, to the handsomely monogrammed linens, everything about The Watergate Hotel is designed to evoke a throwback sense of indulgence. In keeping with the rounded corners of the building, you’ll find few straight lines in any of the hotel’s furniture. In the lobby, the walls themselves undulate in sculpted wood waves. This unabashed embrace of the hotel’s history -- scandal and all -- is refreshing.
Fashionable travelers young and old make the hotel their temporary home, but the buzziest part of the experience is on the top floor. Washington, D.C.’s it-crowd congregates daily and nightly at the hotel’s rooftop, Top of the Gate, to watch the sunset over Rock Creek while noshing on pizza — presented at the table in a delivery-style cardboard box — and sipping on frozen granita. Even hotel guests need to join the line -- which can get long -- to go upstairs, so make a plan and ask the concierge for timing recommendations. We had luck in the early afternoon, before the evening crowd showed up to watch the sunset.
Who Will Love It
Anyone with a keen sense of style or history -- or both -- will feel pampered at The Watergate Hotel, and charmed by its cheeky sense of self-awareness.
Who Might Not
If you need to stay within quick walking distance of the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, and Washington, D.C.’s other main attractions, the location of The Watergate Hotel can be a bit of a challenge. These sites are a metro ride away, or 15 minutes by car or taxi.
The Watergate Hotel’s personality reveals itself in the details. Vintage-style cut glassware, a logo umbrella, a Nespresso coffee machine in the room, a loofah sponge in the shower. Dozens of small touches like this, where a little extra attention was paid, make all the difference. The pencils on the nightstand are even printed with the words, “I stole this from The Watergate Hotel.”
Rates include the room only. Request a river-facing room for beautiful views. Wifi is complimentary.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
You’ll pay standard taxes and fees on the room. All food and beverages in the minibar, on the rooftop, and in the hotel’s restaurant, cost extra.
How to Get a Deal
We love the paradox of Washington, D.C. hotels: Because business travelers tend to clear out on weekends, you’ll find some excellent weekend rates throughout the city, including at The Watergate Hotel. Prices also tend to be lower in the dog days of summer, when the city's weather gets uncomfortably warm.
In the Neighborhood
The hotel is situated directly next to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, so if you’re in town to see a show, this is a great place to stay. The Washington Harbor area, which is home to a number of good restaurants and shops, is also an easy 8-minute walk from the property. For a longer but enjoyable stroll -- about 20 minutes each way -- head to the Georgetown and Dupont Circle neighborhoods.
The Reagan National Airport is an easy 15-minute drive from the hotel.
Nearest Public Transit
Catch Washington, D.C.’s metro at Foggy Bottom-GWU station, an 11-minute walk from the hotel.
The Bottom Line
For a hotel stay that captures a unique moment in history -- and does it in serious style -- The Watergate Hotel fits the bill.