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Less scandal, more luxury

For most Americans, the name Watergate evokes the political scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s downfall and resignation—not the building where the inciting events took place. But that may change now that the Watergate Hotel is set to reopen to for the first time in nearly a decade. 

The renovation is a big deal for a number of reasons. First, of course, the history: To recap, in 1972, Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were assigned to cover a burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate. The subsequent investigation, which spanned two years, took them all the way to the top and changed the course of the American presidency (and, one could argue, the role of the American media) forever.

Second, the money: The hotel’s new owners, New York–based Euro Capital Properties, have sunk $125 million into the hotel over the past two years. That outlay is a sizeable investment for any hotel, let alone one with just 336 rooms (it had 251 rooms before the renovation).

Next, the redesign: On the outside, the Watergate still has its signature avant-garde facade (the brainchild of renowned Italian architect Luigi Moretti). Inside, however, the circa-1967 property has gotten a full makeover, complete with copper metalwork from Italy on the staircase, hand-carved white oak and marble finishes, and, according to an article in the Washington Business Journal, a ballroom ceiling that mimics the night sky. Standard guest rooms have balconies, upholstered beds, curvy light fixtures, and midcentury-modern furniture. Each of two presidential suites offers two living rooms, a dining room, a walk-in closet, and two private terraces with sweeping views of the Potomac River. (The article just cited includes photos of the new property.) 

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Finally, the amenities: a new rooftop lounge. A whiskey bar in the lobby. A full spa. A high-end restaurant. Ample event space, both indoors and out. 

While the interior has been entirely redone, the owners are still embracing the property’s past. A story on TravelPulse last week noted that guests will receive key cards that read, “No need to break in.” Room rates start at $425 per night.

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In more than 18 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Alaska Airlinesand more. He is a senior editor for the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.