Photo courtesy of PBJ Pictures
Mansion on O Street
The Mansion on O Street is an original, pleasantly eccentric D.C. destination. Five row houses are interconnected by a labyrinth of passageways, staircases, and 70 secret doors. Get lost in its 100 rooms, which are filled with an ever-evolving collection of antiques, fine art, memorabilia, and tchotchkes. Fall in love with something? It’s yours, for a price. Everything inside is for sale, from the crystal chandeliers to the guitar-faced toilet seats. Novelty aside, the mansion has been a haven for artists and the civil rights movement for decades. There is even a room dedicated to Rosa Parks, who used to stay here. This intimate use of the space, combined with its eclectic juxtaposition of old-world elegance and cultural kitsch, creates a truly authentic historical record, one that memorializes the everyday and the treasures that brighten it up.
By Susan Mason, AFAR Local Expert
The House of Leonards
If you've ever wanted to stay at an offbeat luxurious hotel containing various themed rooms like one with original Tiffany windows, the Art Deco Penthouse Suite, the two-story Log Cabin room, the John Lennon room, the Rosa Parks room, or the John Wayne room, then the Mansion on O is for you. Originally a trio of 1892 red brick rowhouses, current owner H.H. Leonards bought the property in 1980 and combined the homes into a 30,000-square-foot museum/hotel/event space/maze of sensory overload. Trinkets, tchotchkes, antiques, and memorabilia (in which almost 90 percent is donated by visitors) adorn the 100-plus rooms, two wine cellars, 14 kitchens, and 32 bathrooms. And they're even for sale! But the most awesome part is finding the 70-plus secret doors that H.H. installed. Her children are still looking for 22 of them. I've found only eight... so just 62 more to go! Even if you're not a hotel guest (guests have included Hollywood celebrities and high-profile politicos), visitors can reserve online for self-guided tours daily 11am-4pm. Different themed tours are available as well.
By Christian Mirasol, AFAR Local Expert
2020 O St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Sun - Sat 11am - 5pm