If you casually observe D.C’s skyline on any given day (ideally over a cup of coffee or locally brewed The Corruption IPA-style beer), you’ll see at least 60 cranes hard at work hoisting steel and glass. Chances are, many of them are creating shiny new digs to keep up with the demands of the city's visitors.
To be more specific, the demand for more stylish places with a sense of place is ever-increasing -- around $9 billion worth of hotel improvements are currently underway. And both boutique hotels and bigger chains have risen to the occasion by creating places you’ll want to call your second home, at least for a few days. Here are a few of our favorites:The Embassy Row Hotel
This 231-room hotel, reopened last summer, marries artisanal charm with a stellar location: it faces historic embassies in the Dupont Circle neighborhood (on a street formerly known as Millionaire’s Row) and is also steps away from cultural getaways like The Phillips Collection, one of the city’s modern art museums. On the heels of a $15 million renovation, the lifestyle-driven lobby offers a bar with coffee flowing from D.C.-based Compass Coffee and welcomes guests with brandied cherries. Food incubator Union Kitchen also provides partners with the hotel to offer freshly made treats, and the lobby restaurant, Station Kitchen & Cocktails, offers cheeky libations, communal tables, and nook seating. The rooms are cozy and colorful, featuring design-conscious items like pillows embroidered with the Washington D.C. skyline -- which you can find on shopping menu cards along with other covetable items that you can purchase to take home.
From $179 per night.
Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown
Personalization and intimacy are the key words at this beautiful 49-room hotel that opened in the spring of 2013 and overlooks the C&O Canal. The small property is all about creating a tranquil space to check into, from a guest lounge flanked by pieces from the hotel owner's private art collection to the pewter and gold finishes everywhere. While guests can expect to pay at least $500 per night (and at least $595 when demand is high), tons of amenities are folded into a stay here: complimentary WiFi, refreshment center, 24-hour concierge service, and even five items for laundry pressing. The rooms have everything you'd expect of a luxe stay, too, including bathrooms outfitted with Italian marble floors, soaking tubs, and rain showers.
The Watergate Hotel (Fall 2015)
The hotel whose name will forever be linked to scandal is actually quite luxurious, thanks to a recent $125 million renovation. It originally opened in October 1965 under the vision of Italian architect Luigi Moretti and is reopening this fall. Here, 95 percent of the rooms will boast views of the Potomac River, which means that you can take Instagrammable pictures to your heart’s content. (The rooftop bar will offers great vistas, too.) But the best part about this 337-room hotel may not even be the rooms. We think the true standout feature is going to be the staff costumes designed by Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, as a throwback to the 1970s when the hotel was in its heyday.
From $400 per night.
Trump International Hotel, D.C. (2016)
If location is everything, it doesn’t get any better than the city’s Old Post Office building, situated blocks away from The White House. Trump International was selected by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to redevelop this landmark, and the result is a $200 million, 271-room property, scheduled to open sometime next year. Thanks to the sheer size of the block, guests can expect street-level restaurants, a café, library, and a 4,000 square-foot Spa by Ivanka Trump, as well as rooms filled with light through soaring windows and 16-foot ceilings. We're guessing the crowning achievement of the property will be pricey: two presidential suites will be located in the former historic offices of the Postmaster General.
An all-suite Cambria Suites opened last year on 9th street, a few blocks from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and D.C.’s first Hilton Conrad property is slated for a 2018 launch. Kimpton recently took over the Carlyle Dupont Circle and is in the process of renovating and reopening another in Burleith north of Georgetown.