With Washington, D.C.’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival (which honors the 105th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Tokyo to D.C.) coming almost a month early this year (March 15 to April 16), here’s the inside track to what’s going on in the city that’s new and exciting—hotels, restaurants, art, and more!
WHERE TO STAY
The Line DC
Housed in a neoclassical church that has been thoughtfully renovated to preserve the building’s architectural features, the new The Line DC hotel features 60-foot vaulted ceilings, millwork and brass detailing and large copper entry doors. The Adams Morgan property (the Sydell Group’s second hotel under The Line brand) includes 220 guest rooms, a live broadcast radio station, an indoor pool with sauna and steam room and a rooftop with sweeping views of the Washington Monument and the Washington National Cathedral. Spike Gjerde, Corey Polyoka and Erik Bruner-Yang (of Maketto fame) will be running the food and beverage program on the property, which will debut later this spring.
The Ritz-Carlton has recently completed a full property renovation which includes all the guest rooms and suites, Club Lounge, lobby, and the exciting new bar, Quadrant Lounge. The venue designed by Meyer Davis Studio, features four unique spaces in a moody and alluring color palette of faded grays and blues contrasted with strong accents of red, purple ,and worn leathers. Design highlights include an expansive bar with a luminous back-lit glass panel and Kenya Black stone bar top, plush banquettes and classic lounge chairs, a communal table perfect for happy hour gatherings, and a floor-to-ceiling Kenya Black stone fireplace flanked by low lit mirror shelves. It’s a great spot for a cozy date or a rowdy happy hour.
For the Cherry Blossom Festival, the entrance to the Park Hyatt has been framed by two six-sided transparent cherry blossom glass sculpture boxes by Amanda Weil. The newly renovated rooms also feature beautiful custom cherry blossom glass topped tables and glass topped desks by Weil. The West End luxury hotel, which has just undergone a top-down renovation by Tony Chi, features 216 spacious rooms and suites (made with rich woods, a yellow, blue and grey color palette and basalt bathrooms), a sky-lit indoor saltwater swimming pool and complimentary bicycles for guests.
WHERE TO EAT
Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons
The five-star Four Seasons Hotel has lots of exciting offerings for guests and locals to enjoy from room specials to spa treatments and everything in between. In a nod to Japan, the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Bourbon Steak, will offer a special duo of Japanese wagyu tasting during the festival. This sumptuous meal includes two cuts of wagyu from different regions in Japan—Miyazaki and Kagoshima—with the traditional wagyu accompaniments presented in a gorgeous bento box handcrafted from cherry wood trees along with two sake pairings. Fresh off a $13 million, two-part renovation, the historic Georgetown hotel now features contemporary rooms and suites with plush comforts.
Maketto is a brand new, 6,000-square-foot communal marketplace located in the up-and-coming H Street Corridor, combining retail, restaurant, bar, and cafe experiences. The venue spans two buildings, a courtyard, a roof deck, and a catwalk connecting the different spaces together and features a minimal, industrial environment. “We wanted to create a space where everyone felt at home, whether it was to enjoy a coffee and a pastry, a nice dinner, a great selection of wines, to shop for new shoes, or to just work quietly in the cafe,” says D.C. native and proprietor Will Sharp. The 60-seat restaurant features the team’s unique twist on Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking, the second floor all-day cafe serves sinful pastries and coffee by local roaster Vigilante Coffee, and the retail section offers a curated mix of clothing, accessories, books, and periodicals.
Bad Saint is a 24-seat Filipino restaurant in Columbia Heights that recently received the honor of Bon Appetit’s No. 2 Best New Restaurant in America, and the kitchen is run by a James Beard-nominated executive chef, Tom Cunanan. The boite serves delectable dishes like steamed littleneck clams with Chinese sausage, a stew with chicken, turmeric and burnt coconut, and freshwater shrimp fritters with sweet potato and cilantro. Just get ready to wait on line—the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
Pineapple and Pearls
Pineapple and Pearls on Capitol Hill (run by chef Aaron Silverman of nearby restaurant Rose’s Luxury) features a pricey but memorable 13-course prix fixe tasting menu. Look out for special dishes like beef tartare with caviar, a Perigord black truffle hoecake and a Middle Easter-style baked lamb. The eatery is also known for its all-day coffee bar and springtime patio area.
Bar Dupont Specialty Cocktails
The Dupont Circle Hotel’s Bar Dupont is featuring a menu of traditional Japanese Chu-hai (Shochu + Highball) cocktails over the next month. Its “I Shochu Chu Choose You” (seen here) is a simple but balanced combination of a clean shochu with juiced-to-order grapefruit along with Spanish flavors of oloroso sherry, sweet potato shochu, and green tea.
The Dabney, in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, was a semi-finalist for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant and was named as one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2016 Restaurants of the Year. Chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s menu features an eclectic mix of seafood from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed along with seasonal farmer’s market produce. The brick row house on Blagden Alley dates to the 19th century and the space, designed by firm Edit Lab, includes walls made from historic brick, reclaimed wood elements, and a mixture of herringbone brick and hardwood floors.
Tail Up Goat
Tail Up Goat is a modern Mediterranean spot in Adams Morgan, and its can’t miss dishes include charred chocolate rye bread, dukkah-spiced lamb ribs, and carrot ravioli with apricots. In a casual setting with attentive service and hearty eats, this neighborhood spot is a must visit.
Knead Hospitality + Design, in collaboration with six-time James Beard nominee chef Edward Lee, opened restaurant and bar Succotash in Maryland’s National Harbor with a revitalized Southern flare. The interior, along with the menu, evokes elements of the Old South with exposed brick and wooden coffered and beamed ceilings, murals from artists Claudio Picasso and Daniel ‘Krave’ Fila, and a custom sculpture comprised of old pianos created by local artist Howard Connelly. This summer, the group will open a second location in D.C.’s Penn Quarter.
WHAT TO SEE
The season’s must-see exhibit is “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshhorn Museum (on view through May 14th). The colorful show is a sensorial experience and celebration of the Japanese artist’s 65-year career (six of her captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms are on display) and showcases famed works which feature her signature pumpkins and polka dots.
Salamander Resort & Spa
Less than an hour from Washington, D.C. in the heart of horse country in Middleburg, Virginia, is the Salamander Resort & Spa run by BET founder Sheila C. Johnson. The 340 acre estate features 168 spacious rooms and suites, a 23,000-square-foot spa, restaurants, bars, a cooking studio, a Tree Top Zip Tour and a full-service Equestrian Center with unique programming, a 22-stall stable and riding arena. The spa alone is worth a visit if you’re in the area. With 14 treatment rooms, an infinity edge spa pool with poolside cabanas, whirlpool and vitality pools, a salon and gym, come for a massage and lunch and spend the whole afternoon at the spa.
Set on a 265-acre estate in the heart of Virginia’s wine and hunt country, Goodstone Inn is a romantic Middleburg country inn that features an award-winning French restaurant only an hour from Washington, D.C. Breathtaking vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding countryside appear from every vantage point of the six historic guest houses, elegantly decorated in English and French Country décor. With 18 luxurious guest rooms and suites on the expansive estate, you can enjoy an invigorating hike or bike ride on the miles of Goodstone trails or a canoe trip on Goose Creek with a gourmet picnic lunch. It’s the perfect escape from the city.
The Book Room at The Jefferson Hotel
The Jefferson Hotel’s Book Room and lounge was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s love of books (he famously said “I cannot live without books”) and his Monticello estate. Hundreds of volumes are on offer in the space, which features 15-foot ceilings, presidential crown moldings, wood parquet floors, and an Italian marble and cased gas fireplace. The plush emerald velvet sofa is the perfect place to curl up with a book and a whiskey.