The Guide: Washington, D.C.
Written by Jura Koncius for ElleDecor
ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON, D.C.
The area code is 202
Commune with nature. The Georgetown hillside estate Dumbarton Oaks (339-6401; doaks.org) features ten acres of formal terraced gardens with seasonal shows of crocuses, roses, and wisteria.
Take the path less traveled. Stroll through the FDR Memorial (www.nps.gov/fdrm) on the western side of the Tidal Basin at dusk when the crowds have subsided. Don’t miss the waterfalls in the landscaped outdoor rooms near the famous Cherry Tree Walk (nationalcherryblossomfestival.org).
Shop for goodies. Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market (7th St. and North Carolina Ave., SE; easternmarket.net) was damaged in a fire last year, but vendors settled in a temporary hall across the street. On weekends, locals navigate the stalls of produce, cheese, and baked goods and the adjacent open-air flea market.
Experience capital culture. The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., NW; 467-4600; kennedy-center.org) hosts more than 2,000 plays, ballets, and concerts a year. Daily free programs at 6 p.m.
WHAT TO SEE
Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the Department of State, 2201 C St., NW, 647-3241; receptiontours.state.gov: This clutch of stately rooms where diplomats schmooze is appointed with priceless 18th- and 19th-century American paintings, furniture, and decorative arts.
Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave., NW, 686-5807; hillwoodmuseum.org: Fabergé and fabulousness courtesy of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887–1973) at her elegant, antiques-filled Georgian-style mansion on 25 acres.
The Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Rd., NW, 337-3050; kreegermuseum.org: Works by Monet, Cézanne, and Washington artists such as Gene Davis and Sam Gilliam are on view in this posh 1967 residence-cum-recital-hall designed by Philip Johnson.
National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW, 272-2448; nbm.org: This architecture, design, and urban-planning temple boasts a dramatic Great Hall with eight colossal Corinthian columns, a frequent venue for glittering galas.
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 456-7041; whitehouse.gov: Contact your Congressperson at least a month in advance to reserve a self-guided tour for 10 or more or go to the White House Visitor Center, which has exhibits of presidential architecture, furnishings, fashion, and pets.
WHERE TO STAY
The Fairmont, 2401 M St., NW, 429-2400; fairmont.com: This large, sunny hotel near Dupont Circle features French doors in some rooms that overlook a lush courtyard garden.
Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 342-0444; fourseasons.com: Luxurious yet understated Georgetown lodgings. The indoor pool, newly spritzed-up spa, and proper afternoon tea will tempt you to stay in.
The Hotel George, 15 E St., NW, 347-4200; hotelgeorge.com: Modern Kimpton boutique hotel a few blocks from Union Station, Capitol Hill, and Mall museums that’s popular with VIPs like Arianna Huffington and Al Franken.
Hotel Helix, 1430 Rhode Island Ave., NW, 462-9001; hotelhelix.com: Austin Powers–like vibe near Logan Circle with a lively lounge scene.
Mandarin Oriental, 1330 Maryland Ave., SW, 554-8588; mandarinoriental.com: Feng shui overlooking the Tidal Basin. Enjoy water views in rooms equipped with Japanese screens and state-of-the-art entertainment systems, as well as a soothing martini in CityZen restaurant.
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, 3100 South St., NW, 912-4100; ritzcarlton.com: Small hotel boasting 86 posh rooms and limestone baths with deep soaking tubs.
WHERE TO EAT
2Amys, 3715 Macomb St., NW, 885-5700; 2amyspizza.com: Neapolitan dough baked in a wood-burning oven is the star of this popular pizza joint.
Belga Café, 514 8th St., SE, 544-0100; belgacafe.com: Steamed mussels, cheese croquettes, and Belgian beers draw a crowd of young Capitol Hill staffers to this modern bistro.
Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U St., NW, 667-0909; benschilibowl.com: Serving legendary chili dogs since 1958, the counter and tables are always bustling.
Hook, 3241 M St., NW, 625-4488; hookdc.com: Sustainable seafood in sleek, sophisticated surroundings. Don’t miss the tautog and weakfish.
Lafayette Room, 800 16th St., NW, 638-2570; hayadams.com: Power-breakfast central in plush, Waspy digs at the Hay-Adams hotel. Plenty of fresh flowers, starched linens, and silver—plus drop-dead views of the White House.
Leopold’s Kafe + Konditorei, 3315 M St., NW, 965-6005; kafeleopolds.com: Schnitzel and Sacher torte are daily fare at this European-style cafe on quiet Cady’s Alley.
Rasika, 633 D St., NW, 637-1222; rasikarestaurant.com: Glam Indian food by chef Vikram Sunderam attracts luminaries such as D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty.
WHERE TO SHOP
A Mano, 1677 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 298-7200; amano.bz: Adam Mahr’s Italian-majolica-and-French-faience shop in a 19th-century Georgetown house also sells chic table linens, William Yeoward crystal, and Mark Spirito jewels.
And Beige, 1781 Florida Ave., NW, 234-1557;
andbeige.com. Neutral modern accessories, furniture, and lighting on the outskirts of funky Adams Morgan.
Apartment Zero, 406 7th St., NW, 628-4067; apartmentzero.com: Washington’s premier industrial-design store features furniture and housewares by Hella Jongerius, Antonio Citterio, Karim Rashid, and others.
Après Peau, 1430 K St., NW, 783-0022; aprespeau.com: Attractive Washington mementos (White House note cards, First Lady bracelets), Fornasetti place mats, and melamine salad servers in a cozy boutique.
The Christ Child Society’s Opportunity Shop, 1427 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 333-6635; christchilddc.org: Elegant consignments, from diamonds to silver.
Cowgirl Creamery, 919 F St., NW, 393-6880; cowgirlcreamery.com: The friendly staff at this charming old-fashioned shop knows everything about homemade organic cheeses.
Cusp, 3030 M St., NW, 625-0893; blogonthecusp.com: Twentysomethings head to this new Neiman Marcus spin-off and buy Diane von Furstenberg frocks and costume jewelry by Kenneth Jay Lane.
Gore Dean, 32140 M St., NW, 625-9199; goredean.com: Mrs. John L. Strong stationery, French silver, and rock-crystal chandeliers overseen by Washington insider Deborah Gore Dean.
Home Rule, 1807 14th St., NW, 797-5544; homerule.com. Treats for every room of the house; look for the irresistible bath mats and kitchen timers.
Marston Luce, 1651 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 333-6800: Where Barbara Walters and Carly Simon go for 18th- and 19th-century painted French furniture.
RCKNDY, 1515 U St., NW, 332-5639; rckndy.com: This new modern design shop stocks laser-cut trays, Italian wool pillows, and Australian porcelain.
Relish, 3312 Cady’s Alley, NW, 333-5343; relishdc.com: Proprietor Nancy Pearlstein handpicks an enticing selection of women’s clothes and accessories by Jil Sander, Marni, Narciso Rodriguez, and Nina Ricci.