When you think about our Nation’s capital—which you should visit only in fall, after the swampy heat of summertime—”cozy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Yet, in a city full of sprawl, The Henley Park Hotel is just that.
A member of Historic Hotels of America, the building was constructed in 1918 as Tudor Hall, an apartment complex used by senators and congressmen. During its conversion, The Henley Park Hotel kept its historic charm, and you can see little original touches everywhere, from the gargoyles on the building’s exterior to the Mercer-tiled floor in the lobby. In keeping with the historic theme, the hotel and its modestly sized guestrooms are decorated with Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Queen Anne furnishings.
The result feels like a blend between a boutique hotel, a snug B&B, and an English manor, all scaled down to a manageable size. The public spaces are carved into a few different nooks: a skylit restaurant, The Tavern at Henley Park, which feels like a private dining room; a chic, clubby bar that makes room for a piano player; and a parlor room with a fireplace, perfect for curling up with the paper. There’s a fitness center, too, but it’s the size of a regular bedroom, and only has a handful of machines.
And, though you may feel nestled in the hotel, you’re actually right in the thick of it all. The Henley Park Hotel is about a mile from the White House, the National Mall, the National Portrait Gallery, the Verizon Center, and Chinatown. A short cab ride will take you to Dupont Circle, the Washington Monument, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, or Union Station.
Dine: Though you may be in Chinatown, you should skip the generic General Tso’s and try the pizza—yes, pizza. Matchbox’s Chinatown location (matchboxchinatown.com) is cool and urbane—located in an exposed-brick, three-story building that was once a Chinese grocery—and its wood-fired specialty pizzas rival New York’s pies. Or, if you’re looking to go all out, there’s the Mediterranean Komi (komirestaurant.com), the Modern American CityZen (mandarinoriental.com/washington), and Virginia’s The Inn at Little Washington (theinnatlittlewashington.com), restaurants that earned the top three spots on Washingtonian’s 2013 list of the “100 Very Best Restaurants.”
Explore: Sure, you’re a stone’s throw from the National Mall, with the National Air and Space Museum (airandspace.si.edu), National Gallery of Art (nga.gov), and all that good public space. But if you want a museum with a little bit more, dare we say, danger, then visit the International Spy Museum (spymuseum.org), located just a half-mile from the hotel. You’ll be told to memorize a cover story on your way in, then—after looking at
cigarette-pack cameras, learning about spies throughout history, and separating fact vs. fiction in the James Bond franchise—you’ll be tested to see how many details about your new identity you can remember.
Insider tip: If the hotel’s chintz curtains and Chippendale furniture put you in the mood for tea, you’re in luck: The Henley Park Hotel serves afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, petit fours, and a selection of nearly a dozen brews. Teas are by reservation and cost $25 per person—$30 per person if you want to add on a Kir Royale.
926 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC
Distance from White Plains: 4.5 hours
Details: Rooms start at $109 for double occupancy over Labor Day weekend (but rates can be much higher if there are conventions in town). Keep an eye out for the Weekend Getaway Package, which comes with full breakfast for two, free valet parking, a bottle of Champagne brought to your room on arrival, and other goodies.
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