Upon waking in a sumptuous suite at the Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson himself might be perplexed; why, he might wonder, can he see the Washington Monument from a room that appears to belong in Monticello, his Virginia country estate? The textiles adorning the furniture and draped around the windows seem like those he brought back from Paris, the carved wooden tables and pastoral artwork could outfit his own home.
His confusion can be credited to the designers of the Jefferson, a 1923 Beaux-Arts landmark (long known as the “White House North” for its parade of notable guests) transformed in 2009 into an homage to the third American president in the form of a luxury boutique hotel. Every detail has been attended to, from the parquet floors in the cocktail bar—recreated according to Jefferson’s designs for Monticello’s salon—to the guests-only Book Room, a refined library inspired by Jefferson’s own book room at Monticello and whose bookshelves are filled with leather-bound editions of his favorite volumes. Each of the suites has been themed according to various interests of Jefferson’s, such as architecture, bird-watching, and astronomy.
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A few blocks north of the White House, the Jefferson is within a stone’s throw of several of Washington’s coolest neighborhoods, abundant dining and entertainment, and all the landmark museums and monuments surrounding the National Mall. Dupont Circle, with its popular restaurants like Little Serow and cultural attractions such as the Phillips Collection, is in one direction, while the hip eateries and boutiques of 14th Street (Le Diplomate, Birch & Barley, and the like) are in the other. Lively U Street is only slightly farther, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—home to the District’s best theater, musical, and cultural performances—is just a quick cab ride away. The area immediately around the hotel feels most alive in the after-work hours, when its upscale bars and restaurants are filled with staffers and lobbyists.
Need to Know
Rooms: 95 rooms, 23 suites. From $319. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: A grand Beaux-Arts dining room adorned with crystal chandeliers and gilded mirrors, Plume is one of Washington’s most elegant fine-dining establishments, serving inventive gourmet cuisine inspired by the gardens of Monticello alongside an impressive wine list that includes over 50 of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vintages of Madeira. The airy and refined Greenhouse, set under the building’s historic skylight, offers breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea classics daily. With tufted leather banquettes, antique maps lining the walls, and a piano for near-nightly live music, craft cocktail bar Quill, which also serves light bites for lunch and dinner, is a trendy spot for discerning local residents and staffers; in the warmer months, the low-key scene spills out onto a garden terrace. Spa and gym details: The Petite Spa at the Jefferson offers a range of custom spa treatments designed to take advantage of the herbs and botanicals from the gardens at Monticello. In addition to a small, fully equipped gym on-site, the hotel offers free access to the nearby University Club health club, which has a lap pool.
Who's it best for: Luxury lovers with a sense of history. Our favorite rooms: All of the rooms at the Jefferson are elegant and intimate, inspired by Monticello and decorated with historic artifacts and artwork in keeping with the Jefferson theme, but the two specialty suites—the Thomas Jefferson and the Martha Jefferson—steal the show. Occupying the top floor, each has multiple private balconies with views of the Washington Monument, as well as a gas fireplace, parquet floors, and ornate living rooms perfect for hosting a soirée. As an extra bonus, any suite booked at the hotel’s best available rate comes with a thoughtfully paired bottle of wine, chosen to match the room’s theme, such as architecture or books. For history buffs: As a landmark building transformed into a tribute to Thomas Jefferson and early American history, the Jefferson is packed with stories, as is the surrounding area. Every Saturday, one of the hotel’s resident historians hangs out in the lobby to answer questions, tell stories, and point guests toward compelling historic sights that might otherwise be overlooked.