In a city surrounded with history and culture, The Jefferson, Washington, DC stands out on those accounts and more. Only blocks from the White House, the hotel’s proximity to the pulse of the government and popular tourist sites make it an ideal stay for those seeking comfort and convenience in America’s capital city.
Originally built as an apartment building in the beaux arts style by renowned architect Jules Henri de Sibour in 1923, through the years the building has named many of the world’s elite as residents or guests. It was converted into a hotel in 1955 with considerable care taken to preserve the integrity of the architecture. Renovations over the decades have assured that the hotel remains among the most sought-after accommodations in the capital city. The lobby, ceilings and halls of the public areas are lined with bas-relief borders glossed in gold, while the guest rooms feature wall moldings and recessed ceilings.
Take a moment to wander through the lobby, where you’ll see historic documents signed by Thomas Jefferson. Stroll under the spectacular skylight ceiling above the Greenhouse restaurant which offers breakfast and lunch in a bright and cheerful setting. Linger in the Book Room, a cozy library designed after Jefferson’s personal library at Monticello. Here you’ll find wall-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with leather-bound volumes selected in topics Jefferson or his contemporaries might have pulled down and read beside the fireplace.
Everyone from hot, young staffers to Capitol Hill power-brokers often gather at Quill, a chic lounge with an extensive wine menu and food service. You can follow Jefferson’s wine journeys through historic copperplate engravings of the wine regions of France placed upon the walls. When the weather’s fine, guests can step outside to the terrace where those in the know puff on cigars.
Some of the most intimate and sought-after tables are found at the Jefferson’s Plume, a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its culinary creativity. Trained in classic French cuisine, executive chef Ralf Schlegel joined Plume in 2011, having worked in some of the finest kitchens in Europe before coming to America. Dinners are prix fixe and pricey, beginning with amuse bouche and working through entrée choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Among the entrees, consider the bison strip loin with barbecue spice served with yellow corn soufflé.
A stay at the Jefferson means five-star service from arrival to departure. A doorman ushers you inside the black and white, marble-floored lobby, but instead of a reception counter, you’re seated at one of two antique desks to check-in. All guest rooms feature 24-hour butler service, round-the-clock room service, maid service twice daily, turn-down attention, and a private car on call.
The Jefferson carries on the tradition of bespoke service with 99 guest rooms, including 20 suites lavishly designed with period detail of which its namesake would approve. Historic artwork adorns the walls, reflecting such well-known Jefferson interests as wine, horticulture, music and books. Guest rooms and suites are easy on the eyes with soft patinas of either platinum or gold. Bathrooms feature Italian marble, with posh cotton robes and slippers, fine linens and upscale bathing amenities. I loved the television inside the bathroom mirror for listening to morning news while I prepared for the day.
The third president himself would be comfortable in the hotel’s presidential suite, a sweeping array of multiple sitting rooms, including a baby grand piano; a study; a dining room with seating for ten; a kitchen; a bedroom with double closets and a master bathroom with bidet; deep-soaking tub, and separate marble shower. An adjoining one-bedroom unit connects the Thomas Jefferson suite for those who need additional space. The Martha Jefferson suite offers similar luxury in a smaller footprint. Eighteen deluxe and executive suites have sitting rooms with dining areas and additional sleeping options.
Single guest rooms are available in three levels, all of them spacious and artfully appointed. The list of amenities is long, but topping the list of luxuries not already mentioned, are complimentary shoe shines. Just place your shoes outside the door before going to bed and they’re ready for you in the morning. Wi-fi and local and long-distance calls are complimentary. This doesn’t seem like such a perk to Americans with mobile phones, but it’s a terrific perk for international travelers with limited cellular service. While there was no coffee service in the room, coffeemakers can be requested for those like me who want their morning coffee without delay. A finishing touch to the stately rooms is the complimentary drinking water served in an elegant frosted glass decanter.
Before or after a day of meetings, tours or shopping, guests at the Jefferson can rejuvenate at the hotel’s Petite Spa. As the name suggests, the Petite Spa has limited availability, but offers extensive body therapies and facial treatments. Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, guests can also arrange for services beyond these hours through the Jefferson’s concierge.
If you haven’t walked around the capital city enough and need more exercise, the Jefferson’s fitness center provides all of the basic necessities of a good workout. The footprint of the Jefferson doesn’t include a pool, but guests are given complimentary entry into the tony University Club aquatic facilities and gym across the street.
The Jefferson is delightfully pet-friendly, offering four-legged guests cushy beds, bowls and special treats. You can pick up a map of nearby pet walking routes from the concierge, as well as recommendations of pet-friendly establishments and parks throughout the city.
Check the Jefferson’s website for special offers that often combine accommodations, dining and tours at package rates.