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Capital idea: Great ideas for a weekend in Washington DC
A week at the beach may be the ideal vacation for some, but for those with less time— or less interest in the crowds and sun— a day or two in D.C. can prove to be just as satisfying.
Edited by Sarah Gilbert Fox

Modern Chic Check into the newly opened, 317-room, luxury W Hotel (515 15th St., N.W., 202-661-2400, located in the former Hotel Washington (and directly across the street from the White House). The POV lounge on the rooftop and the W signature ultra lounge both offer walk-in seating (although on more popular evenings, reservations might be wise) and both offer spectacular views of the Capitol. Dianna Wong designed the new W around the theme of “power.” She cleverly pays homage to the idea that behind every strong man is a stronger woman, using pinstriped blankets (a nod to the suit) on the beds, and lace-trimmed curtains on the windows (a hat tipped to the negligee). All the rooms have the handsome modern lushness expected of the W brand, and the Extreme Wow suite has mirrors on both sides of the bathtub window, with a panoramic view of many of the city’s monuments. W’s Bliss Spa has a super “cold feet” mint pedicure for overly tired museum-trekkers. Don’t expect cucumber water here— instead, enjoy the Bliss brownie bar while you wait.  The hotel’s signature restaurant, Jean Georges Steakhouse, serves an upscale take on steakhouse classics.

Georgetown Pleasures Start your day with a blowout at the Hair Lounge Salon (2201 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., 202-337-0951,, where D.C. first coined the term “Upper North West Blond,” and where everyone comes for that wheat-colored oh-so-expensive-looking hair. This is the hair mecca for the political and international jet set (Jessica Alba comes here when she’s in town).  For shopping, begin at Hu’s Wear (2906 M St., N.W., 202-342-2020, and Hu’s Shoes across the street (3005 M St., N.W., 202-342-0202), where Baltimore homegirl Tori Amos shops for chi-chi designer fashions from Devi Kroell, Willow, Megan Park and the like.  Grab lunch at the Tackle Box (3245 M St., N.W., 202-337-8269,, a restaurant with wall-to-wall fishing tackle and large, shared picnic tables throughout.  Fish, burgers, salads, giant teas and great sides— lunch will run you about $13. After lunch, cross Wisconsin Avenue to hit Cady’s Alley, an arcade filled with designer home shops: Waterworks for everything from towels to tiles (3314 M St., N.W., 202-333-7180,, JANUS et Cie for outdoor seating (3304 M St., N.W., 202-333-8111) and Contemporaria for Pucci fabric-covered seats and more (3303 Cady’s Alley, N.W., 202-333-0193). Then head up Wisconsin Avenue, where antique shops and smaller boutiques can be found in historic townhouses. It’s a very pretty place to stroll, and it’s here where you’ll find Georgetown’s sweetspot, Thomas Sweet Ice Cream (3214 P St., N.W., 202-337-0616,

Politico Luxury The 175-room, 25-suite St. Regis Hotel (923 16th and K streets, N.W., 202-638-2626,, located two blocks from the White House, recently underwent a 16-month restoration, keeping the 1920s Italian Renaissance-styled historic facade intact, and calling in design firm Sills Huniford to update almost everything else.  Each room is painted in a different color palette (lavenders, greens, rust oranges, etc.), Pratesi linens grace the beds and damask curtains frame the Palladian windows. In the bathrooms, Remède Spa products line the marble sinks, and a 15-inch LCD television is recessed behind the bathroom mirror. In the suites you’ll have a 24-hour, on-call, English-trained butler, who has the ability to answer all your requests via e-mail.  Many American presidents have either stayed or visited here, making the Presidential Suite appropriately named (it has a private entrance, for security).  The outdoor Astor Terrace, with its twinkling lights and garden, takes on the spirit of a Firenze patio, but the real European connection can be found at Adour, the Alain Ducasse restaurant. There, executive chef Julien Jouhannaud whips up French-American fusion classics that practically beg to be served with the more than 400 wines that are available.

more to do…
Fourth of July fireworks on the Mall is the popular spot to be, but if you want to avoid the crowds, the Iwo Jima monument at the Arlington National Cemetery is a prime spot with a fantastic view of fireworks bursting over the Washington Monument. Plus, it’s walkable to one of the most popular restaurants in town, Yaku (1900 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, Va., 703-248-0844,, which serves up delicious seafood dim sum. 

Reserve a table at Blue Ridge restaurant (2340 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., 202-333-4004), where famed chef Barton Seaver (Oprah loves him) serves up sustainable cooking and gourmet Virginia grass-fed beef. 

The Teatro Goldoni (1909 K St., N.W., 202-955-9494, charms the palates of many politicians and journalists with experimental tweaks on cuisine, such as the smoked-in-a-cigar-box carpaccio. 

Hot night life can be found at the L2 Lounge (3315 Cady’s Alley, N.W., 202-965-2001, Here’s where you’ll see the beautiful people exchanging biz cards and connecting. 

Washington is often called “the ugly man’s Hollywood,” but at Cafe Milano (3251 Prospect St., N.W., 202-333-6183, the view will most likely be of Jennifer Lopez, Queen Noor, Tobey Mcguire or Stevie Wonder coming in the front door. If it’s celebrities you want to see, this is where you’re likely to find them.


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