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.

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Best Boutique Hotels in Washington, D.C. (1 of 32)

 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.
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. The Hay-Adams' regal canopied beds have Sealy mattresses, 400-thread-count Frette sheets, and plush pillows. Service is as good as it gets: warm attentive, and efficient. The hotel's motto -- "Where nothing is overlooked but the White House" -- applies to everything, but it would be fair to suggest it is referring primarily to the service. Room service is available 24-hours. The hotel has several lovely, intimate meeting rooms that are perfect for big-time dealmaking in small numbers. After a massive renovation, this historic boutique recently reopened, and regained its place among D.C.'s most elite hotels. In-room technology includes TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors and electronic housekeeping call buttons. The Jefferson's luxury spa is a rare hotel amenity in D.C. Highlights include specialized "vinotherapies" to reflect Thomas Jefferson's love of wine. The hotel's charming book room has a fireplace, newspapers, magazines, and a huge collection of hardcover books about the Jefferson era. 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. The W's brand of trendy nightspots have varying success from town to town, but when POV opened on the W's rooftop in July 2009 it became an immediate hit in Washington's rather sparse downtown bar scene -- in no small part due to its incredible views of the White House and the Washington Monument. While lines can be long, guests of the W can just show their room key and slide right in. The hotel's handsome J&G Steakhouse is helmed by the world-renowned fusion fine-dining chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Rooms are a bit smaller than others in D.C., but they're equipped with top-tier electronics and whimsical touches, like a lamp shaped like George Washington's head. 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. Befitting the "Art in Motion" theme, the rooms at the Hotel Palomar have more flair than a typical chain hotel. Voguish touches like the faux bearskin blanket, the Mosaic lamps, the illuminated nightstands, the leather headboard, the mirrored side table, and the paintings on the wall give the room a distinctive flavor. Evening wine tastings take place from 5 to 6 p.m., and are paired with Wii tennis tournaments. The dimly-lit 173-seat Urbana restaurant offers a mixture of dishes from northern Italy and southern France (as well as a solid wine list) from the up-and-coming young chef, Alex Bollinger. The bar at Urbana -- which serves signature cocktails, small plates, and brick-oven pizzas -- can be hopping on the weekends, though it generally caters to a more mature crowd than many of the other bars in Dupont Circle. This 82-room boutique with stylish interiors sits on a treelined residential street in Dupont Circle -- D.C.'s center of nightlife and dining. A can-do staff, up-to-date guest rooms, a jewel of a restaurant, and a vibrant location (coffeehouses, a farmers' market) add up to a solid value. The rooms at Hotel Madera are spacious (from 400 to 500 square feet) compared to the average in D.C., and you can choose from one of three, unexpected varieties: Deluxe Standards, Cardio Rooms, which are outfitted with a cardio machine, and Snack Rooms, which throw in a mini-fridge, sink, and microwave. The hotel's Firefly restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner, and handles the hotel's room service orders. The memorable menu and whimsical atmosphere make it popular among hotel guests and Dupont Circle residents. Opened in 2008, the Donovan House, a sexy new boutique from Thompson Hotels (of SoHo's 60 Thompson fame), is helping to define Obama-era D.C. cool with its eggplant-and-white "Erotic City" color scheme, pod-shaped "cocoon" showers, rowdy rooftop pool parties, and delicious Pan-Asian restaurant, Zentan. The seasonal rooftop pool (open basically from Memorial Day until it gets too cold) is a welcome respite from Washington's sweltering summers and sweaty lobbyists. "Iron Chef America" (and Thompson LES) vet Susur Lee heads the Pan-Asian Zentan. Zentan is Cantonese for "spy," and it's got enough dark corners to hide Robert Hanssen and Eliot Spitzer alike. Zentan's low-lit wood interior is livened up by little flourishes like communal tables, faux candles, glass faces smiling out from behind the bar, and colorful patterns watching over the sushi station. Being one of the "it" places in town often translates to a too-hip-to-care-about-you attitude from the staff, but it's not the case at Zentan, where a friendly attitude is more important than who is on the guest list. Rooms are clean, relaxing, and more sensual than what button-down D.C. is known for, what with the leather headboards and canopies, Veuve Clicquot in the minibar, and a "Pleasure Pack" with not one, but two, types of personal lubricant. At Art and Soul, James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Art Smith (perhaps better known as Oprah's former personal chef) puts a modern spin on classic soul food with dishes such as pecan-crusted chicken and maple glazed veal chops with chestnut puree and caramelized brussel sprouts (entrees range from $18 to $34). At Art and Soul, James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Art Smith (perhaps better known as Oprah's former personal chef) puts a modern spin on classic soul food with dishes such as pecan-crusted chicken and maple glazed veal chops with chestnut puree and caramelized brussel sprouts (entrees range from $18 to $34). At Art and Soul, James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Art Smith (perhaps better known as Oprah's former personal chef) puts a modern spin on classic soul food with dishes such as pecan-crusted chicken and maple glazed veal chops with chestnut puree and caramelized brussel sprouts (entrees range from $18 to $34). 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. Fahrenheit serves American cuisine in a dramatic setting. Even though the space has soaring ceilings and industrial loft-like windows, it still feels warm and cozy. What the rooms lack in style, they make up for in size. The most basic room (dubbed "Premier") starts at an exceptionally large 450 square feet and has a huge flat-screen TV, a plush feather-topped bed, and a large slate and limestone bathroom with a walk-in shower and a separate deep soaking tub. A decade ago, this stunning, 139-room Kimpton-managed hotel was Capitol Hill's first hip boutique. Its 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. Hotel George's guest rooms offer a welcome mix of luxury details and modern touches, from the oversize all-marble bathrooms to the stocked minibar with plenty of gourmet treats. Popular among congressmen, powerbrokers, and local celebrities, Bistro Bis is consistently voted as the "Power Spot" by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. But it's not stuffy -- overhead, you'll hear French pop music -- and the space feels more like the Tuileries Garden in Paris than somewhere on The Hill.
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