The Jefferson, Washington DC Rating: 5.0 Pearls
After a massive renovation, this historic boutique recently reopened, and regained its place among D.C.'s most elite hotels. The elegant hotel subtly blends technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping call buttons; a luxurious spa with innovative "vinotherapies") and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter).
The Hay-Adams Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The hotel of choice for the world's powerbrokers -- even Obama snagged a suite with his family prior to his inauguration -- the intimate Hay-Adams, located in the White House's unofficial backyard, is quite possibly the most famous hotel in the capital. Built in 1927 over the homes of John Hay and Henry Adams, it is a distinctly D.C. boutique hotel, with its stately vibe, exceptionally doting service, classy bar and restaurant, and unique details to individualize each guest room, like an ornamental fireplace or some decorative carvings.
W Washington DC Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The gorgeous, 317-room W Washington D.C. opened in July 2009, taking over the historic Hotel Washington's 1917 Beaux Arts building. With fusion cuisine from Jean-Georges Vongerichten; a fashionable rooftop bar; a great spa and gym; Whatever/Whenever service, well-equipped (though small) rooms, and stunning design, it's the hippest hotel next to the White House.
Hotel Palomar DC Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Fun boutique flair, at a fair price. The 335-room Hotel Palomar has an outdoor pool, a lively bar and restaurant, and a great location near the Metro subway station and the nightlife of Dupont Circle. And being a Kimpton hotel, it has great perks -- free wine hour; free Wi-Fi; pet pampering; great beds; top-notch service.
Hotel Madera Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Donovan House Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Forget gilded mirrors. The small-scale 86-room Ritz-Carlton Georgetown is housed in a historic industrial building (a former trash incinerator) in the beautiful heart of Georgetown; the original brick and steel beams help give the lobby far more boutique appeal than a conventional Ritz-Carlton. But, as with any Ritz, the guest rooms still look traditionally dull.
The Hotel George Rating: 3.5 Pearls
A decade ago, this stunning, 139-room Kimpton-managed hotel was Capitol Hill's first hip boutique. Today, it sees big competition from the Liaison -- a new hotel, just around the corner. But the George's airy, urbane lobby, swank guest rooms, well-equipped fitness center, top-notch French restaurant, and free nightly wine hour still make it a solid choice.