I haven’t visited Washington DC since I was toe high to the Lincoln Monument. An avid Lichtenstein fan, I took my own advice and planned a trip a few months ago. It wasn’t until the week before that I realize how perfect my timing was—I’d arrive two days after the presidential election and would still be in town to observe Veterans Day.
As I pulled up to The Hay Adams, a quick cab ride from Reagan National Airport, I squealed when I noticed The White House really is right across the street, making my entrance into the lobby that much more stately and sophisticated. However, before I had time to remove my sunglasses, I felt more like I was walking into someone’s gorgeous mansion and was warmly greeted upon checking in. I noticed hot chocolate and hot apple cider to-go in the corner and couldn’t wait to indulge. Those weren’t the only sweets; in my room was a white chocolate White House filled with homemade cookies.
Named for John Hay and Henry Adams, who once upon a time had homes on this site, the Hay Adams opened its doors in 1928. Hay was a personal secretary to President Lincoln and later as ambassador to the U.K. as well as Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Adams, a descendant of Presidents’ John Adams and John Quincy Adams, was a historian and Harvard Professor. In 2001, the hotel closed for over a year for an impressive $20-million renovation and again in 2010 so the Top of the Hay, over 3,000 square feet of private event space, could be completed. With 145 rooms and 21 suites within, the hotel was also home to the Obamas before they moved into The White House in 2009. Across the street you’ll find St. John’s church, a.k.a. “The Church of the Presidents”, where since 1816, every President has attended either a regular or occasional service sitting in pew 54. Although pew 89, the last in the church, is dubbed “Lincoln’s Pew” as he preferred to sit in the back.
The rooms are cozy, filled with a subtle toile fabric and feature historical touches like ornate ceilings. The Lafayette Room offers a serene scene for either a leisurely meal or a power breakfast, a few of which I spotted, and downstairs their Off the Record bar proved to be a hip spot for the young-up-and-coming D.C. crowd. But most of all, the location is perfect for exploring the monuments and sights of Washington D.C. Speaking of sights, while riding bikes on our way to Arlington National Cemetery, who did we see? Mr. and Mrs. President. Okay, so it was their motorcade speeding past, but that still counts!
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