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The Jefferson, Washington, DC

Jefferson Hotel: Bed Down at White House North
The Beaux-Arts-style Jefferson Hotel is such a magnet for political VIPs it’s been called White House North. (The Obamas live a few blocks away.) From $300

This appeared in the March/April 2015 issue.
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The Jefferson: Perfectly Made-over For The 21st Century
How often does it happen that you get out of your comfy bed, walk over to the window, and behold the Washington Monument in plain view? Well, that was just one of the unexpected joys I experienced during a recent stay at The Jefferson, which has undergone a far-reaching facelift since my last visit years ago. From the moment you enter the Beaux Art building there’s no mistaking the hotel’s rich past, especially the influence of Thomas Jefferson. At the same time, there’s nothing stuffy or old-fashioned about “The Jeff,” which is immediately apparent when checking in – the staff is professional yet friendly.

Once in my room, I loved the historical elegance of the period furnishings, while at the same time enjoying all of today’s modern conveniences (including “smart rooms" that call housekeeping or privacy with the touch of a button). Or, if you’re a bath lover like me, you could spend all your time in the oversized tub and be very happy – staying as connected or unplugged, as you want.

When last I was stayed at The Jeff, there was no skylight in the dim lobby. Fortunately, during the recent renovation workers rediscovered the original 1923 skylight, which now allows natural light to flood The Greenhouse, one of the hotel’s two restaurants. The Quill, the hotel’s bar and lounge, evokes a last-century speakeasy with ultra-contemporary selections of herbal-infused alcohols like cherry blossom infused vodka and pumpkin infused Bourbon. I say “Cheers!” to “The Jeff.”

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The Jefferson
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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The Most Elegant Cocktail in Washington D.C.
Salt rims on drinks? Passé, suggests Rachel Kling, mixologist at the Quill Bar at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C.

She and her imaginative colleagues are clearly into making drink accents that are practically amulets: sugary lace collars for rims, and wine pearls that act as both eye candy and palate cleaners.

A passionfruit pearl garnish for a Dr. Seuss cocktail was based "The Lorax"; “they looked like the tops of Truffula trees in the martini glass,” she says.

Because of Kling’s legal background, she named a flavorful, heady drink after one of her inspirations: the RGB cocktail is a nod to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The feminine lacy rim was inspired by the collar R.B.G. wears with her robe. It has all the elegance of a sugary Queen Anne’s lace.

Blue Coat gin was selected since this spirit commemorates “free-thinking revolutionaries” as stated on the bottle. In all honesty, it might be the most feminist cocktail I have ever imbibed (e.g. floral nod of lavender honey to the Lily Ledbetter case), and a dash of “Bitter Truth” grapefruit bitters again as a tribute to RGB’s no nonsense approach.

Other ingredients in the drink add to the beautiful sweetness: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc adds a grapey dimension to the gin; notes of lime and pomegranate juice liven the bouquet.

But the drink—despite all its intellectual elements—is like Audrey Hepburn in style.
It’s so good, it should be illegal.
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Federal Luxe
If you were to look up the word “swanky” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of the Jefferson Hotel right next to it. This place oozes old-world class and federal elegance, and I would expect nothing less from a luxury hotel of its caliber.

The hotel is not a large property, which means less building to attend to and more time to focus on servicing the clientele; the staff is courteous, friendly, and extremely helpful. You will be pampered from the moment you step foot inside the hotel and it will continue, every minute, throughout your stay! The hotel will even provide you with a car and driver to shuttle you about town, and you’ll likely take advantage of that because the hotel is located a bit off the tourist path though it is only a few blocks from the White House.

If you happen to stay for the weekend, be sure to reserve a table for brunch in the beautiful Greenhouse restaurant. Lucky me, I was recently treated to a meal there, and I felt like the most special person in the world!

Yes, staying at the Jefferson Hotel will set you back a large chunk of change, but everyone deserves to be spoiled now and then. Right? If you really want to splurge, book one of the suites with a view of the White House or Washington Monument for the full D.C. experience.

Metro stop: McPherson Square. Although if you can afford to stay at the Jefferson, you’re most likely not going to be coming or going by subway.
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1200 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
+1 202-448-2300
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