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, and street art–style murals. 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.