Washington DC has been on my travel list for as long as I can remember, so when our daughter who is at university in North Carolina suggested we meet in Washington, we needed no persuading!
I had been in conversation with Oliva Bardy at OB Luxury Travel about collaborating on a project so this seemed the perfect opportunity. If you too have had a yearning, go this year and immerse yourself in the West Wing in the run up to the 2020 election.
My brief was to see great views, eat at fun/local restaurants, take in any cool art exhibitions and of course the museums, monuments and pretty houses.
Washington| Hotel details
Olivia recommended The Darcy, a few blocks directly North of the White House. The location was pretty central and as clients of Olivia we were upgraded to a suite, which was perfect as it had a sizeable lounge area with a sofa bed for our daughter.
The Darcy is newly refurbished, groovy (as evidenced by Peloton bikes in the gym) and deserves a solid 4 stars. Relaxed, friendly, not stiff or fancy, and good value.
If you want 5-star luxury, look at the Hay-Adams (very traditional), The Line (stylish boutique) and the Rosewood in Georgetown (rooftop bar overlooking the Potomac River).
Washington| Eating out
Bluestone Lane | This little Australian cafe is the best breakfast spot if you are staying at the Darcy as it is next door. Delicious fresh food and good coffee. A lovely vibe.
Seylou | Recommended by the waiter at Maydan, we tried this neighbourhood coffee spot and local baker and really weren’t disappointed. The almond croissant was on point!
Zaytinya | Delicious, Greek/Lebanese influence, modern with a cool vibe, and a great outside terrace.
Maydan | Very atmospheric and really tasty, Middle East meets Africa, the blazing fire pit in the centre looks great, but be warned, there is no fire without a bit of smoke.
Ghibellina | Excellent local up-market pizza/pasta with a happy hour.
Fig & Olive | Sophisticated Mediterranean surrounded by high-end shops in the business district. Very pretty outdoor terrace.
Iron Gate | Neighbourhood restaurant, very close to the Darcy and well worth a visit. Excellent dinner and you can sit outside on a warm evening.
Founding Farmers | Very popular at weekends for brunch so book if you want to go as it’s not worth queuing for. It was buzzy but the food & coffee were average.
The Royal | Go for breakfast if you want a real non-touristy neighbourhood feel. Excellent, but out of the way.
Toastique | Recommended by a student, this is a healthy boutique gourmet toast and juice bar . We were very pleasantly surprised. The açai bowl was so good, as was my burrata salad. If you are near The Wharf, it’s certainly worth a visit.
Washington| Cocktail hour
Sunsets in Washington are spectacular, and best seen from a rooftop bar with a cocktail! We made every effort to find a new venue at the end of each day.
POV at the W Hotel | Order the We Can Do It cocktail, appropriately served in tin cans – the best rooftop bar in DC. Do this on your first night to get you into the swing. Has a view over the White House… just.
Rooftop Bar at the Rosewood | Perfect for a chilled sunset cocktail after shopping in Georgetown.
The Gibson | A speakeasy on 14th Street. Dimly lit and atmospheric. Designed for couples, so don’t go as a group. No view, but we had a really great cocktail or two here.. can’t remember!
Washington DC |If we’d had more time
Washington is known for its restaurant scene. Others recommendations included; Del Mar (Spanish at The Wharf), Rose’s Luxury, 1789, The Dabney and Centrolina (sophisticated Italian), which closed as we arrived due to an electrical problem! On our list for the next trip.
Breakfast : We would have liked to have tried; A Baked Joint, The Coupe and Elle.
On the bar front: We wanted to go to the Top of the Gate (highly recommended for the view), The Brixton and The Graham Rooftop.
Washington DC| Culture vultures
Culturally there is so much to see in Washington that it deserves a post of its own. Please go to Washington Culture Highlights to see what we did, and what we wish we’d had more time for.
Washington DC| Shopping
I would not go to Washington to shop, but wandering around the shops in Georgetown, along Main and Wisconsin, makes for a fun afternoon. Take the time to discover the very pretty back streets and look around the university. We did not have enough time to do this sadly… and left wanting to see so much more!
Eastern Market – no great shakes and not worth the hike.
We went in October and got our timing spot on. The trees were changing colour and yet the temperature was still mild. Spring is another excellent time to visit as the cherry trees are in blossom and in abundance.
If you can wake up early and take advantage of the sunrises, we had two spectacular mornings at Lincoln’s memorial and a bike ride to Capitol Hill.
Plan your day so that you don’t end up criss-crossing across town which is what happened to us.
Getting around Washington is easy. The metro works very well and there is a good bus system. But also use Capital Bikeshare and the scooters that are everywhere. Download the Lyft and Uber apps.
Although everything looks walkable, be aware that the blocks are deceptively large and the streets very wide, so a short walk turns out to be a very long walk…
Washington is the perfect cultural weekend destination. You can pack in as much as you want to and still have more to do – unusual for most cities. I think the hardest part of our trip was fitting where we wanted to eat around how much we wanted to do. So when I suggest plan.. I mean really plan!