Considering its pop-art aesthetic and high-tech perks, it’s hard to believe the W Washington D.C. was built in 1917. Okay, so that’s not exactly true; the elegant building spent most of its life as the Hotel Washington—an Old World landmark whose location next to the White House, overlooking the National Mall, made it one of the District’s most popular pieds-à-terre for politicians and celebrities. Presidential balls have been held in the grand halls, parts of The Godfather: Part II were filmed on the rooftop terrace, and Elvis and President Nixon met here.
These days, in its incarnation as the W, the hotel projects a more modern vision of glamour, complementing the historic Beaux-Arts architecture with colorful lighting, street art–style murals, and live DJ sets in one of its three bars. The rooms are less flashy, but gilded mirrors, tufted velvet couches, and large windows looking out on the Mall guarantee they’re no less glamorous. And, while its look has changed, the rooftop bar is still one of the hottest spots in town, thanks to its unparalleled views; with the White House and the Washington Monument both looming nearby, it’s like having a drink with the President.
Rooms: 317 rooms, 31 suites. From $299. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Its decor may blend elegant neoclassical architecture with bold, modern style—one wall is covered in a mural painted by renowned Baltimore street artist Gaia—but Pinea serves authentic Southern Mediterranean cuisine like whole grilled branzino and house-made saffron pasta. Downstairs, the Root Cellar pairs specialty whiskeys and barrel-aged cocktails with shareable light bites; its popular happy hour attracts discerning staffers from the surrounding government offices. The lounge-like Living Room hosts a livelier scene, offering cocktails and bites amid slick leather and animal-print furnishings and colorful LED lights. The W’s hottest spot, though, is the rooftop POV bar, a year-round watering hole overlooking the White House that goes from fancy weekend brunch to breezy afternoon aperitif spot to trendy nightlife scene. Spa and gym details: The colorful, whimsical Bliss Spa offers a range of spa and beauty treatments alongside spa snacks and eucalyptus steam showers; in-room treatments are also available. The hotel has a 24-hour, fully equipped gym, with personal trainers and specialty equipment for boxing and yoga available upon request.
Who's it best for: Trendy couples, friends, and business travelers who like a room with a view. Our favorite rooms: With a location like this, it’d be a shame not to take advantage of the view; Pennsylvania Avenue–facing Fabulous Rooms on the ninth and tenth floors have panoramic, postcard-worthy views of the National Mall and the Washington Monument. Modern arrival: As the historic Hotel Washington, the hotel spent nearly 100 years hosting balls, presidents, dignitaries, and celebrities; get the insider treatment when you take advantage of the W’s keyless entry system, which lets you walk straight past the front desk and directly to your room, where your smartphone will open the door.